The hairy secrets of Ma Vember

2012-11-28 11:22

I’d never heard of Movember until I noticed that my normally handsome, clean-shaven son had started to look like a dodgy 70s porn star coming out of a crack house.

“OMG are you growing a moustache?”

“Hmhh,” replies my son, a strong, silent type with tattoos on his biceps who engages me in direct conversation only when he needs to borrow my credit card or find out what’s for dinner.

I Google it and discover that Movember is an annual event whereby men – so-called Mo Bros - grow moustaches to raise awareness about prostate and testicular cancers. Now I am fascinated.

“Are you raising money for cancer awareness?”

“Gmguff,” he says.

“Are you raising cancer awareness for money?”

“Mmhamm.”

“I’ll pay you to shave it off, darling!”

“LMFAO”

I sigh. “Would you like to borrow my credit card now?”

“Depends. What’s for dinner?”

Already my son’s runaway retro-tache has raised my alarm bells, though admittedly they’re not clanging about cancer so much as about the gender-myth that only men can grow moustaches.

Most women I know have a moustache, only we call it Unwanted Facial Hair and spend a lot of secret time and money getting rid of it.

Female moustaches have to be managed, like difficult co-workers. Tragically, a Gillette Mach3 and a dollop of Prep aren’t up to the job. Instead we rip it off with boiled wax or burn it with chemical creams or pluck it out with the kind of tweezers used in advanced micro-surgery.

If I let my moustache grow unchecked, I boast to my family at dinner one night in early Movember, I too could look like Freddie Mercury by the end of the month.

A groan goes up from the table. One by one they declare they will fall down dead from embarrassment. And so this sc-hairy thought goes no further.

Secretly I’m relieved that nobody egged me on or dared me: I don’t care that much about prostate cancer. Anyway, it’s a Man Thing, and if we women can wear pink ribbons pinned to our vulnerable chests during breast cancer awareness month, then they can choose their own methods of drawing attention to cancers affecting men. Growing a moustache is certainly a more tasteful idea than pinning a blue ribbon to that part of the male anatomy most at risk.

Then I heard about Siobhan Fletcher. Siobhan Fletcher is a 36-year-old UK housewife who has done what I was too bang to attempt and grown a beard for Movember. Apparently she has raised thousands of pounds for men’s health, though her own husband, Jim, is not feeling too well. As I hear it, Jim is almost dead from embarrassment and, as December 1 approaches, bets are being laid on whether he’ll pull through before his wife’s next shave.

Shame, Fletcher has a medical condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which makes her facial hair grow like a man’s.

Once upon a time her problem would have been called a talent and she’d have found steady work in a circus. But in the civilized 21st century, she’s an ordinary housewife living in one of those weirdly named UK towns – Leak? Bleak? Except that she shaves every morning.

Tugging at a stray whisker that escaped my monthly nuke, I think about the Fletchers spending couple-time in the bathroom, dipping their twin blades in the foamy water at the His and Hers basins, perhaps chatting about what to cook for supper that night.

In an interview with that disgusting Closer magazine, Siobhan revealed: “A male friend mentioned he was doing it and it struck me I could do it too. I wanted to challenge myself, and prove if I can go out on the street with a beard, then surely men who are experiencing health problems can get over their hang-ups and get tested – it could save their life,” she says, adding: “Jim is good at keeping an eye on his health.”

Truthfully, I’m surprised Jim hasn’t gone blind with the strain of keeping one eye on his health and the other eye on his wife's bokkie.

As I write there are two days left in Movember. My son now sports an glossy hedge on his upper lip. It is the kind of macho tache that, back in the 70s, would either have turned him into a TV star on one of those shows where guys jump into cars without opening the door, or have made him a disco legend in shimmer pants with a gold medallion bouncing in his chest fur.

If I’d grown mine back in the 70s, I’d have been doing a double act in a tent with Siobhan Fletcher. No, I don’t know why God gave women Unwanted Facial Hair; personally, I’d have preferred wings. But, being merciful, he gave us Veet too.

Go, Mo Bros! May the fur be with you rather than with me.

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