Health & Medicine

For Movember (moustache November), men are letting their whiskers grow

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These men in London are participating in "Movember," or moustache november, an international effort to raise money for and awareness of men's health. (Photo by Rahul Joglekar.)

Story from PRI's The World. Listen to the above audio for a complete report.

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On the streets in London you can’t help but notice the number of men sporting moustaches these days.

It may look a bit goofy, for some especially so, but it’s all for a serious cause.

It is Moustache November – or MO-vember – a whole month when men decide to keep their moustaches and everything that comes with the hairy territory.

The event has humble roots. Movember started in Australia but has traveled far and wide. In England, it seems to fit very well with the tradition of growing a moustache. Little wonder then that the number of men taking part has doubled this year.

Around a wooden table at the Windsor Castle Pub in London some stories were being exchanged. Others were offering grooming tips to sculpt that perfect moustache.

Martin Foster, an accountant, listened very carefully.

“You shave on the first of November and reconvene on the 30th and see how you’re doing really,” he said.

His moustache is just a few days old. He's growing it for Movember.

“This is my first time," Foster said. "My face may not be pre-disposed to it, but I’ll give it a go. It is for prostate cancer charity basically.”

Movember began in Australia just a few years ago. Now it’s a worldwide trend.

There are more than 200,000 men taking part this year. The men growing a ‘stache call themselves Mo-bros.

London’s Handle Bar Club is a group of men with the most flamboyant moustaches

"My moustache is a full bushy dark brown moustache," said Handle Bar Club member Steve Parsons. "I unfurled it the other day and it's 20 centimeters in wingspan, which is about eight inches.”

Club members help neophytes with the fine art of growing and grooming moustaches.

Bertie Young, an artist, is a member of the club. He said he is helping Mo-bros get back in touch with their roots.

“I think it is harping back to this British Empire – conquering the world, generals with their big moustaches," Young said. "You know, a man with a moustache looks like he can lead people into battle. He looks like he can do the job that you give him. I think that’s important about having a moustache.”

But there are other practical considerations as well.

Kate Harrison’s boyfriend sports a moustache.

“It is really soft, it’s like a cushion when you kiss somebody," she said. "The only downside as a girlfriend, is that when we go out there are crazy women who want to take their photograph with him, touch him, maul him, stroke him.”

For some, moustache season will end in November, but for Handle Bar club members, moustaches are forever.

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PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston. More about The World.

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