Yoni Zierler

Gotta Grow a Mo’!

This is an awkward conversation, but it’s got to happen. At some point in the years after the hairs have sprouted, voice dropped, and the various status changes have taken hold, fathers are wont to sit down with their sons and teach them about some of the more important male responsibilities. This one makes the birds and the bees look easy.

“The doctor sticks his fingers WHERE?”

Is there a guy in the world who doesn’t dread his 40th birthday checkup? Is there a teenager from the Tom Green era who didn’t squirm while glued to the “Testicular Cancer Special” on TV?

I still remember my father’s small attempt at comfort after informing me of my (long) impending rectal exam:

“It’s no picnic, but it beats the other option.”

A small secret:

Guys have an obsession with what goes on down there. As Joey Tribbiani of Friends once put it “If Little Joey’s dead then I got no reason to live”.

It is, after all, the source of our manhood and mojo, and our tool to creating future generations of actual “Little Joeys”.

Which is why I am sporting a moustache for all of November. Or should I say,  Movember.

Movember is an annual initiative that raises funds and awareness for men’s health issues, placing a strong focus on prostate and testicular cancer. Since 2003, the Australian movement has encouraged men to let their moustaches grow over the month of November.

Strangely enough, it would seem that these little patches of lip-fur attract big attention, which Mo-Bros (as participants are called) use to trigger conversations about men’s health awareness.

Over the years, it has grown from 30 participants to more than 850,000, spread internationally, and garnered over 200 million dollars of donations ($126 million in 2011 alone) towards research, education, and awareness efforts.

Some serious numbers for you to catch in that ‘stache:, the American Cancer Society’s website, lists prostate cancer as being second only to lung cancer as the most common cancer to develop in men. In 2008, over 900,000 men worldwide were afflicted with prostate cancer. In the same year, prostate cancer was responsible for over 250,000 deaths- the sixth leading cause of international cancer-related deaths.

According to the Israel Cancer Association website, in Israel (circa 2010) 2,890 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, with the risk for developing the disease standing at an estimated one out of twelve.

Growing a crumb catcher is no easy task. Next to the personal challenge of having blond facial hair is the harsh reality that, outside of the kibbutz world, the walrus has lost its charm. Generations of proud whisker-bearers have  turned their backs on the style. A symbol of manliness has fallen victim to satire, its pride relegated to the Super Mario Bros and the colorful cardboard of the Pringles cans.

But I’m doing this for the kids. Mine, yours, your children’s.

Last night, with my girlfriend on the phone, I stood in front of my mirror and sacrificed my offering to the gods of Norelco. Despite the preparation I offered her over the past month, the girlfriend nervously laughed as she listened to my play by play.

“You realize that this is bitter-sweet for me, right?” she asked. “I hate your beard, but trading it for a moustache?”

“You’re gonna love it. I look like a combination of a 1990’s PE teacher and a redneck truck driver,” I responded, as I carefully left behind a sandy ‘stache.

Sandy the dandy-stache

She might leave me. This is one of the risks I take. Her friends, she has reminded me, have dumped guys for lesser flaws. After all, “Balding Guy” didn’t choose to start losing his hair, and he got the axe. My fashion statement? It will test her love for me, but ultimately, it’s my cross to bear.

My upper lip has been colonized by a cute, fuzzy caterpillar, and the two of us will spend the next month  discovering whether or not blond lip-rugs have more fun. I’ll make sure to keep you updated. Men’s health is by no means a laughing matter. But my moustache might be.

——-Click here for more about Yoni’s Movember efforts.——–

About the Author
Yoni Zierler is the chief tour guide and Director of “Discover," the tourism department of StandWithUs – an international, non-profit and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism. Raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Yoni immigrated to Israel for his last year of high-school, and subsequently served (with excellence) in the IDF. A lover of history, books, and music, Yoni is happily married to Yochi and the proud father of Golan Noam and Klil Eden.