Movember 2021 in Hong Kong is about growing a moustache and spreading a message about the importance of looking after physical and mental health; here’s how to help
- Annual global campaign puts men’s health in the spotlight; knowing your family medical history and having a better relationship with your doctor is a good start
- Women can play their part too – Claudia Leung has raised nearly $250,000 in the six years since her father got a prostate cancer diagnosis
’Tis the season for moustaches – a time for brave men to grow a moustache and women to step up to support them to raise awareness about men’s health, especially prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health.
Now a global movement with more than five million supporters around the world, Movember began in a Melbourne pub in 2003. Chatting over a beer, a few friends hatched the idea to grow a moustache in the month of November and ask friends, family and colleagues to support their effort with cash donations to support men’s health.
There are basic ground rules: Mo Bros must begin with a clean-shaven face on November 1, grow and groom their moustache for the entire month, use the moustache to create conversation and raise funds for men’s mental health.
Robert Dunne met the Australian founders in London in 2006. He volunteered for the charity and is now Movember’s country director for Hong Kong. In the early days, he says it was a challenge to get people to grow a moustache. That changed.
“About eight or 10 years ago, it was hard to get people to shave them off, they got too attached to it, that’s the challenge of trends,” says Dunne.
In addition to raising funds through sponsorship, he says the Movember campaign aims to get some positive messaging out to the community about the importance of knowing your family medical history and having a relationship with your doctor; using exercise as a great preventive tool; and maintaining social connections.
“Men die younger than women. There are huge elements of lifestyle where we don’t look after ourselves as well as we should – diet and being proactive about health; we don’t have a strong relationship with medical professionals and often [only] present in a medical setting at the point of crisis,” says Dunne.
Mental health and suicide prevention have always been part of the movement but have taken on an even greater focus in recent years, and even more so during the pandemic. Movember aims to create a safe space where people can speak openly about sensitive subjects.
“The stigma remains around showing vulnerability. It is in men’s DNA to show strength, be the rock of a family – and for it to go into reverse and [have to] acknowledge that you might be struggling is hard. We are getting better. There is still work to do, but we’ve certainly seen a shift,” says Dunne.
Aaron Stadlin-Robbie, Movember ambassador and founder of Talking Mental, is cultivating his November moustache. This is his third Movember and he says he’s getting more creative with his tash.
“The reason I’m such a big fan of Movember is because of the way they use humour and language that is very relatable, it normalises things that are difficult to talk about. The ‘Know Thy Nuts’ campaign – it’s great humour about something serious,” says Stadlin-Robbie.
He also likes the way that Movember involves women as well as men – Mo Bros and Mo Sisters – making it inclusive.
“Women have this incredible super power of being able to open up quickly. For men it’s the opposite, we need to feel we are in control. Only if I really trust you will I slowly open my door. With mental health, because it’s something felt, it’s hard to be in control,” says Stadlin-Robbie.
Growing a mo’ is just one of a number of ways you can support Movember. You can also join a team or run solo to support the #MoSteps Challenge, rally a crew to do something fun to raise money, or join any of the Movember activities taking place across the month.
Claudia Leung has been a Movember supporter since 2015, when her father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Over the past six years, she has raised HK$249,000 (US$32,000) and last year was the largest fundraiser for the campaign in Hong Kong, bringing in HK$87,600. This year she has upped the challenge and plans to run 150km, row 200km, cycle 250km and lift a total of 100,000kg.
“It’s such a taboo in Chinese culture to talk about men’s health. When my dad was first diagnosed, he hid his cancer and was pretending he was OK,” says Leung.
“Movember enabled my family to talk more freely about cancer. It’s a great platform to get everyone more comfortable talking about mental health, prostate cancer.”
What’s happening in Movember
Movember-themed Highball cocktails: featuring Gin, Whiskey and Tequila. HK$20 from the sale of each Highball will be donated to Movember at Mo Bar.
MO Bar, Landmark Mandarin Oriental, throughout November
Beef & Liberty Movember Special Burger: for every sale of Impossible Bânh Mì, HK$10 will be donated to Movember throughout the month.
Restaurants in Stanley, Wong Chuk Hang and Hollywood Road, throughout November
Emmer Movember Special – Brussels sprouts pizza: for every sale of the Brussels sprouts pizza, HK$10 will be donated to Movember.
Emmer Pizzeria & Café, Shop no. 407, Level 4, Pacific Place, throughout November.
Nutty Spritz Movember Cocktail: Movember cocktail, exclusively designed by bar manager Princebir Singh, HK$10 donated to Movember:
Zzura, 23 Hollywood Road, Central, throughout November.
Complimentary dough balls: PizzaExpress is offering all registered Movember supporters complimentary dough balls. Just show staff your Mo Space page. (Min spend HK$250)
Let’s Get Quizzical: The Movember Edition: all-time favourite quiz night jazzed up Movember-style with happy hour drinks until 8pm and hosted by quizmaster Nick at Beef & Liberty Stanley. RSVP: [email protected] with your name, group size (max 4), contact number and team name.
Mo’ Beef Mo’ Liberty, Stanley, Friday November 12, 7.30pm
Keeping it clean for the last week of Mo: in partnership with Cuz Barber Shop. Pay for a shave and drink for free, or pay HK$200 for free flow Asahi (two kegs). All money goes to The Movember Foundation.
Movember Clean Vol 2 @ Musubi Hiro, 37 Cochrane Street, Central, Sunday, November 21 (from 5pm)
movENDER Party @ Musubi Hiro: time to go large with a movENDER party to raise mo funds, in partnership with Cuz Barber Shop.
Musubi Hiro, 37 Cochrane Street, Central, Saturday, November 27, from 5pm.