Celebrating 20 years of Movember 
How a Grassroots Initiative changed the global face of Men’s health.

It’s that time of the year. The cicadas are humming, the sky turns candy pink at dusk…

And blokes everywhere get a hairy makeover. 

From thick and straight, to cowboy style and pencil thin, moustaches are suddenly all the rage again in support of Movember, a global movement dedicated to raising awareness for men’s health issues.

This November marks twenty years of the moustache-growing charity event that has funded more than 1,320 men’s health projects, transformed the way health services support men and encouraged men the world over to build stronger social connections. 

To honour this incredible milestone, let’s take a look at how this grassroots initiative went from Melbourne pub to worldwide phenomenon. 

From humble beginnings to a global movement 

Movember was founded by Travis Garone and Luke Slattery in 2003 over a beer in Fitzroy. Like all good pub chat, the conversation turned to fashion trends: the duo was musing about how they could convince their mates to grow a ‘mo and bring facial hair back into vogue. 

Inspired by their friend’s mother who was raising funds for breast cancer by donning a pink ribbon, Garone and Slattery came up with the idea to build a campaign around prostate cancer. After finding 30 mates willing to forgo shaving during the month of November to support the cause, Movember was born. 

By the following year, Garone and Slattery’s campaign had started to spread like wildfire. Four hundred and fifty Mo Bros had joined the movement and a staggering $54,000 was raised for prostate cancer research, with all funds donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA).

In 2007, Movember launched in the USA while also gaining traction in Canada, Spain, the UK and New Zealand. Seven years later, Movember was ranked 72nd out of the top 500 NGOs (non-governmental organisations) in the world.

Today, Movember has more than six million Mo Bros and Sisters spread across  Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA. 

Meanwhile, the charity has taken on three of the biggest health issues affecting men in the modern world: mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. 

Sporting a ‘mo’ isn’t just a retro throwback anymore. It’s sparked important conversations, funded critical biomedical research and improved the quality of life for millions of men. 

Joining forces with Lifeblood in 2023

This November, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood has united with Movember to inspire millions of Australian men to donate blood or plasma with a limited edition Brothers in Arms bandage designed by Movember co-founder, Travis Garone.

It’s estimated that one in three meant will need blood in their lifetime, but only one in 30 is likely to donate. 

The moustache in November has always been a walking, talking billboard, a catalyst for conversation, and so the idea behind the Brothers in Arms bandage is that it will work in the same way,” Garone said.

Men care about their health, and they do talk about it, but the volume is too low. By drawing attention to mens health through the bandage, hopefully we can encourage more guys to have a conversation and donate blood, whether that's by themselves or with their mates. That is the ultimate outcome.

There is a simplicity to growing a moustache, and there is a simplicity to donating blood. Its a very simple act, and simple acts will change the world.”

How you can get involved with Movember

For those keen to grow their own mo’, Movember offers a handy guide to help style a striking moustache.

But if you’re, ahem, follicly challenged, you can still show your support. From hosting a themed event to running 60 kilometres throughout the month or coming up with your own fundraising vision entirely, there are endless ways to contribute. 

So, this November, whether you’re growing a mo’, donating blood, or simply asking a bro how they’re coping, remember that your actions are helping men live longer, healthier lives.

To participate in Movember, please head here. And if you found this article inspiring, you might be interested in learning about the Esteé Lauder Companies Breast Cancer Campaign

Kristina Roach

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Celebrating 20 years of Movember