What is it about the month of November that leads clean-shaven, presentable men to experiment with the questionable delights of cultivating a moustache?
What could inspire so many thousands throughout Australia and across the world to opt for a Dali or a handlebar, an imperial, a walrus or a Fu Manchu?
The answer is, of course, Movember.
Who would have thought that the simple act of changing an 'N' for an 'M' would lead to what is now an international phenomenon? From modest beginnings in 2003, when there were 30 "mo bros", in 2009, 128,000 mo bros (and sistas) in Australia answered Movember's call to action, raising a remarkable $20 million for Movember's men's health partners.
Most people would agree there has to be a pretty good reason to spend a month growing and shaping a "coat of arms on your face", but in fact there 3,300 good reasons, for that is the number of men who die of prostate cancer each year.
Depression has also been taking its toll.
One in eight men will experience depression during their lifetime and the suicide rate is four times higher among men than women. By putting up with potentially humiliating facial hair, Australians raised more than $20 million last year for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, beyondblue, the national depression initiative and the Movember foundation.
It is not only men who get involved in Movember. There are also many thousands of 'mo sistas' ready to join the cause. While sistas are not expected to grow their own mo (although there is nothing in the rules to say they can't) they can show their support by recruiting mos, organising events and even posing for photos.
Unearth your inner gentleman
According to Movember co-founder Travis Garone, "To me, the moustache and modern gent go hand in hand, so as well as raising awareness and funds for men’s health in 2010, we are expecting to unearth many of Australia's hidden gentlemen." Of course there is only one way to test this theory grow one for yourself.
What happens in December?
Very little is said about what happens to the month-old mos when December rears its head. For many mo bros there has been a love-hate relationship and there must be many a tearful goodbye said in front of mirrors across the world. Perhaps some mos lose their grip on their host's upper lip in the dead of night at the hands of a wife or girlfriend who has endured the whispers of friends and family, had to compete for her man's affection and even share her bed for the last month.
However the end comes, come it surely does or else there would be many more Merv Hughes look-alikes wandering Australia's streets. But surely this is where the strength of Movember lies in the fact that for most people (save for an 'enlightened' few), the moustache is a source of curiosity and amusement rather than something to aspire to.
Where to from here?
The millions of dollars the mo bros and mo sistas have raised since 2003 has made Movember an international triumph. Take it to the next level by registering at www.movember.com.
Have your say: will you be a "mo bro" this year?