Embracing the manly whiskers

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan
Graphic by Jennifer Kwan

Movember is upon us, and men all over the country are concentrated on growing out their whiskers. Tiny handlebar moustaches adorn mugs, pens, and a whole slew of paraphernalia. It’s cool, it’s hip, and it’s meant to draw attention to men’s testicular and prostate health. According to Canadian Cancer Society, there were approximately 26,500 cases of prostate cancer in 2012 and 4,000 deaths caused by it.

While the women help raise funds and awareness, men are sponsored to grow out their ‘staches. Last year, “Mo Bros” and “Mo Sistas” raised $125.7 million dollars Canada-wide. Although creating and maintaining their upper lip art can be time consuming and inconvenient, there are also many of benefits that come from their labours.

Studies have shown that moustaches actually provide protection against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Researchers in Australia used dosimetry, a measurement and calculation of how much radiation tissue can absorb, to see if facial hair provided any protection against the sun’s rays. Researcher Alfio Parisi and his fellow scientists came to the conclusion that facial hair diminished the skin’s exposure to ultraviolet rays by about one third. There were some variables, such as the angle of the sun, and the length of the ‘stache and beard. While this may seem like great news for you moustached men, Parisi did mention that this is a very small amount of protection, so don’t chuck out your sunscreen just yet.

In addition to some minor health benefits, moustaches actually bring about many social benefits as well. I suppose we can call it the Tom Selleck affect. A study held by the American Mustache Institute showed that men with mos make more money than clean-shaven fellows. According to the study, they make 8.2 per cent more than men who just have beards, and 4.3 per cent more than baby-faced blokes. The study also states that men sporting upper-lip flavour-savers are more likely to be hired at job interviews.

“When I am clean shaven, I feel exposed to the elements of the world,” said Aaron Cohenca, a Dawson College student who is part of a team raising funds for Movember. He said he believes the growth of a ‘stache is a respectable process.

If you’re not quite yet convinced to join in the Movember festivities, a study by the Journal of Marketing Communications states that moustached men are also seen as more trustworthy. Men sporting facial hair in commercials brought out more trust in the consumer. It must be noted that when we are talking about facial hair and moustaches, we are speaking about well-groomed, short to medium length beards. Nothing that looks like a bird could raise a family in.

“A moustache is a responsibility. It is almost like a baby and needs to be cared for daily,” said Cohenca. “People recognize this subconsciously and will thus automatically respect and admire men who have the courage and willpower to wear their ‘staches with pride.”

On the other hand, some people like McGill University student Chris Martin disagree. He said he feels “dirty” with facial hair, and that the image of a moustache is old-fashioned. “It makes me think of undeserved dominance and inequality,” he said.

Concordia student Maxie Kalinowicz, one of Cohenca’s team members, began growing out his facial hair in August. “It definitely makes me feel a lot older. And I have noticed that strangers seem to treat me as such,” said Kalinowicz. However, he added that he sometimes feels unkempt, and that facial hair can “be a two-way street.”

To introduce a female perspective, Concordia student Krystina Scenna willingly expressed her dislike with the idea of moustaches for that very reason. “They’re terrifying!” she said. “It looks like a dead rodent on your upper lip.”

If we’ve convinced you of the benefits of growing a moustache, consider doing it for a good cause and participate. If not, feel free to make fun of your friends all the more.


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