With the onset of November expect moustaches to show their annual increase in number. Alix Norman looks at what is happening in Cyprus to mark Movember

For the past year, we’ve hidden the lower half of our faces from public view. But beneath the masks, there’ve been some hugely hairy happenings: moustaches – once the realm of porn stars, cowboys, and villains – are making a comeback!

From Timothée Chalamet’s wispy whiskers (spotted at a film gala in New York) to the facial stylings of rapper Lil Nas X (who favoured a pencil thin creation for most of 2020), the modish mo has overtaken the bushy beard to become the fuzz of choice. And as of Monday, more than a million new will moustaches appear worldwide, as men transform into walking, talking billboards for the Movember movement.

mo3An amalgam of November and moustache, Movember is the leading global charitable organisation in aid of male health, funding research around the world. Focused on mental health, suicide prevention, prostate and testicular cancer, the charity launched in Australia in 2003, when two gentlemen challenged 30 of their friends to grow ‘sponsored moustaches’ and raise money for men’s health.

Today, the number of Mo Bros is in the millions, with volunteers around the world garnering sponsorship for their pencil-thins, handlebars, and Fu-Manchus. And, with the resultant funds and awareness-raising campaigns, the organisation estimates it will have reduced the number of men who die prematurely by up to 25 per cent by 2030.

“On average, across the world, men die six years earlier than women,” explain organisers. “And the impact of prostate and testicular cancer on lives is substantial, with prostate cancer being the second most common cancer in men worldwide and the number of cases expected to almost double to 1.7 million by 2030. Moreover, suicide affects men more than women: three quarters of suicides are by men. The World Health Organisation estimates that 510,000 men die from suicide globally each year. That’s one every minute.”

In Cyprus, the situation is no less dire, says Leondios Tselepos, one of the local Movember team. “In some ways, we’re like ostriches,” he explains. “If we don’t feel really sick, then we just don’t do anything about it. Also, there’s always that ever-present fear of actually finding something that tends to stop us from visiting our doctors when we should. At the same time, many men here don’t realise how very easy it is to get yourself checked to see if anything does need medical attention.”

Under this year’s tagline of ‘Changing the Face of Men’s Health’, Movember Cyprus is working to improve the situation. Launched in 2013, the local campaign has raised in excess of €150,000 for the charity over the last three years; funds which go to support those affected by prostate and testicular cancer. But the key mission has been to raise awareness: encouraging men all over the island to get regular PSA checks, and seek support for mental health concerns.

mo1As part of this, Movember Cyprus (organised by Round Table 1 Nicosia and KEO Beer) will be hosting events throughout the month: hairy, happy happenings that will include public shaving sessions, photoshoots, auctions, exhibitions, and free PSA tests. The highlight of the campaign, however, is the Man Van – a roving barbershop! Tricked out with an iconic barber’s chair, mirrors, and products, this ‘mo’-bile salon will be roaming the island over the next month, rocking up at various venues complete with professional barber.

“As a one-of-a-kind, the Man Van is the focus of this year’s campaign,” reveals Leondios. “Last year, thanks to the pandemic, we couldn’t take it on the road. But in 2021, it’s back, and though we’re still planning to avoid public places and won’t be hosting massive shaving events, we’re certainly hoping to visit a lot of smaller destinations.”

Available for hire, the Man Van is ideal for businesses and corporate events. “For a fee” – which goes to charity – “the van can come straight to your offices, and employees can enjoy a shave on the spot. It’s a great idea for firms who want to offer their staff something a little different while contributing to an important cause,” Leondios adds.

“You’ll be also able to purchase your Movember merchandise – tshirts, hoodies, bags, mugs and masks – from the van, as well as through our social media channels,” he continues. “And this year, we’re also issuing licensed donation tickets for those who want to sponsor their ’tache…”

Sponsored mo-growing has always been the main money-earner. Around the world, a million men grow Movember moustaches, and many of these do so in the name of charity – garnering sponsorship and raising money throughout the month. Over the years, athletes, artists, actors, and celebrities from all fields have spearheaded the campaign. Stephen Fry, Bear Grylls, David Oyelowo and Tan France have all grown a mo, while in Cyprus, a Movember moustache has appeared on the faces of everyone from the President to the footballers of the National Team, along with thousands of locals who choose to convey the campaign’s crucial message.

mo2“Movember is fun; it’s a chance to join an ever-growing movement, take part in something bigger than yourself, and give back to the community,” Leondios concludes. “But it’s also incredibly serious: men’s health is a topic discussed far less frequently than women’s; men are dying too young because they’re just not aware of the issues. By raising funds and awareness, Movember is making a global contribution to men living happier, healthier, longer lives.”

At a time when everything 70s is trending (hello shagpile; hey there flares!), the moustache is having a moment. And this November, as style and conscience combine, it will also be contributing to a lasting impact on male health. Simply put, whatever you grow will save a bro. So why not be truly à la ‘mo’-de?

For more information, visit the Facebook page ‘Movember Cyprus’ or the Instagram account @movembercyprus