MOVEM­BER

Ho­bart se­cu­rity man­ager Tom Wind­sor has a pretty heavy rea­son for want­ing as many blokes as pos­si­ble to have a laugh and grow a mous­tache this month

Mercury (Hobart) - Magazine - - UPFRONT - WORDS TIM MARTAIN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY LUKE BOW­DEN

Tom Wind­sor has done a mar­vel­lous job pro­mot­ing this hi­lar­i­ous month of hair growth — and for good rea­son.

When the first Movem­ber was held in 2003, rais­ing money to fund men’s health aware­ness pro­grams, the mous­tache was no longer a ter­ri­bly com­mon fash­ion state­ment among men, es­pe­cially younger men. So the idea of get­ting peo­ple to spon­sor you for grow­ing an out­ra­geous, em­bar­rass­ing or epic mous­tache was an in­stant hit.

The sight of blokes of all ages, from all walks of life, go­ing out in pub­lic with soup-strain­ers in vary­ing states of growth and un­sight­li­ness has be­come a com­mon topic of con­ver­sa­tion ev­ery Novem­ber — ex­actly the in­ten­tion.

But in the in­ter­ven­ing years, a cu­ri­ous thing has hap­pened. The “ironic beard” crept into fash­ion among the young hip­ster set, spawn­ing re­lated off­shoots like the ironic porn star mous­tache and the ironic han­dle­bar mous­tache.

More re­cently, beards have ceased be­ing ironic and are a le­git­i­mate trend. Mous­taches have yet to reach the same con­tem­po­rary ac­cep­tance, but with fa­cial hair sud­denly as main­stream as jeans, does Movem­ber still have the same im­pact?

“Yeah there’s a lit­tle bit more traf­fic to cut through with your mos now,” says vet­eran Ho­bart mous­tache-grower Tom Wind­sor, 37. “It takes a lit­tle more ef­fort to re­ally stand out.

“But at the same time, I hope it makes more men feel com­fort­able do­ing it and to sign up for Movem­ber.

“We cer­tainly get more par­tic­i­pants ev­ery year, our team is al­ways grow­ing.”

The team in ques­tion is the Mo­bart Mo Bros, formed in 2006 so a group of a dozen Ho­bart mates could par­tic­i­pate in Movem­ber to­gether, with Wind­sor as the team’s cap­tain.

As of last year, the Mo­bart Mo Bros num­bered around 140 peo­ple — in­clud­ing Mo Sis­tas as well as Mo Bros — and have now raised more than half a mil­lion dol­lars for Movem­ber, with funds go­ing to­wards rais­ing aware­ness of men’s heath is­sues such as sui­cide and prostate cancer preven­tion.

The Ho­bart Mo Bros have been the high­est Movem­ber fundrais­ing team in Aus­tralia three times. They have set them­selves a tar­get of $130,000 for this year’s Movem­ber and, if pre­vi­ous years are any in­di­ca­tion, this mous­ta­chioed jug­ger­naut will most likely reach that tar­get eas­ily.

But for all the fundrais­ing suc­cess of the Mo­bart Mo Bros, the group has its ori­gins in a much more per­sonal show of sup­port for mates in need.

In 2005 Wind­sor lost his dad to sui­cide, some­thing that came as a shock to his whole fam­ily.

“Dad had been de­pressed for a cou­ple of months, we knew that,” Wind­sor says. “But he had done all the right things, he had told us about it, he was see­ing his GP, he was on med­i­ca­tion for it, he was do­ing all the things we al­ways en­cour­age peo­ple to do.

“So it com­pletely blind­sided us. It was a re­ally short bout of de­pres­sion but it ended his life.

“About a year later, some of my mates, mostly from the footy team I played in at the time, said we should give Movem­ber a crack. They wanted to do some­thing to sup­port me and help me and we thought this sounded like a fun thing to do to­gether as a group and they wanted me to be the cap­tain.”

In that first year the Mo Bros not only grew mous­taches for spon­sor­ship, but ran a 200km re­lay from Launce­s­ton to Ho­bart, calling it the Tache Dash. The event was so suc­cess­ful that it

grew year af­ter year, even­tu­ally spawn­ing a sec­ond leg from Swansea which was run in par­al­lel.

Soon the Tache Dash got so big that it was be­com­ing too dan­ger­ous to hold — the sheer num­ber of run­ners on the busy Mid­land High­way was be­com­ing a li­a­bil­ity.

So in 2010 the Mo Bros aligned them­selves with the es­tab­lished Point to Pin­na­cle run up ku­nanyi/Mt Welling­ton, be­com­ing the half-marathon’s of­fi­cial am­bas­sadors, help­ing par­tic­i­pants to reach the top and hold­ing a series of train­ing runs for other mem­bers of the Mo Bros team in the lead-up to the race.

And just to keep things fresh and in­ter­est­ing, this year the Mo­bart Mo Bros have added a new piece of mer­chan­dise to their fundrais­ing arse­nal: a spe­cially de­signed fish­ing lure called the Mojo 18.

“One of our long-time Mo Bros, Sam Shel­ley, has al­ways loved fish­ing and the benefits it brings to his men­tal health,” Wind­sor says. “So he ap­proached a lo­cal man­u­fac­turer, Wigston’s Lures, to cre­ate a cus­tom lure for Movem­ber.

“It’s based on their most pop­u­lar de­sign, the Tassie Devil, but in­stead of stripes down its back, it will have tiny lit­tle mous­taches. Only 100 will be pro­duced, sold for $6 each on­line and all pro­ceeds will be do­nated to Movem­ber.”

Shel­ley says fish­er­men will be en­cour­aged to share sto­ries of their Movem­ber fish­ing trips on­line.

“The main fea­ture of this pro­ject is that we will be en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to ac­tu­ally use the lure and get away fish­ing and ‘tackle men’s health,” he says.

“It kind of ticks all the boxes: you pur­chase some­thing that you might have bought any­way, you make a do­na­tion to Movem­ber and you get away fish­ing, which is great for your men­tal health.”

As smoothly as Wind­sor is able to slip into his Movem­ber am­bas­sador pat­ter, the Cover­all Se­cu­rity man­ag­ing di­rec­tor’s ded­i­ca­tion to the cause is still very much a per­sonal pas­sion.

“Our sole in­tent from the start was to cre­ate at­ten­tion around the cause, and the cra­zier the idea the bet­ter, as far as we were con­cerned,” he says. “So if we look a bit silly and the mos are a bit rub­bish in that first week or two and peo­ple laugh or ask you about it, then that’s the idea.

“Guys don’t al­ways know what to say to each other or how to start a con­ver­sa­tion with some­one about cancer or de­pres­sion but it’s pretty easy to grow a mo and have some fun and raise aware­ness that way.

“I think a huge part of our suc­cess comes from en­gag­ing the com­mu­nity so well. And peo­ple are fairly easy to en­gage be­cause, un­for­tu­nately, ev­ery­one has a story of their own around men­tal health or cancer, so it touches a lot of peo­ple. Prostate cancer and sui­cide are the two big­gest killers of men aged be­tween 15 and 45. And three out of four sui­cides are men, it kills more men than cancer or road crashes.”

Wind­sor says close mates were a vi­tal sup­port net­work dur­ing the worst days of his life and he thinks events such as Movem­ber are suc­ceed­ing in en­cour­ag­ing men to be more open and talk­a­tive about health and men­tal health is­sues.

“Movem­ber is held in 22 dif­fer­ent coun­tries now, and it has evolved to the point where it is not only rais­ing aware­ness of men’s health is­sues, but it’s also con­tribut­ing to chang­ing that male cul­ture in Aus­tralia,” he says. “In this coun­try we are so proud of our Aussie blokey cul­ture, we love it, but that cul­ture is pro­duc­ing some hor­ri­ble statistics around life ex­pectancy in men. It would be naive to pre­tend our con­cept of mas­culin­ity isn’t hav­ing a neg­a­tive im­pact.”

As part of Movem­ber, Speakeasy nights are be­ing held around the coun­try, in­clud­ing on Fri­day, Novem­ber 9 in Ho­bart — where men can gather to talk to oth­ers and learn how to com­mu­ni­cate more ef­fec­tively.

But Wind­sor says men shouldn’t just wait for or­gan­ised events such as this to en­cour­age them to check on their mates and talk about what is hap­pen­ing in their lives. It should be an ev­ery­day thing, and other struc­tures al­ready ex­ist.

“Take sport­ing and footy clubs, for ex­am­ple. They’re favourite places for blokes to hang out and get to­gether and when I lost my dad, my footy mates were the best sup­port I had,” he says. “Those clubs might breed that tra­di­tional blok­i­ness we are look­ing to ad­dress or tweak, but they are also the best place to fos­ter re­la­tion­ships that keep us safe and alive in the bad times.”

Wind­sor says ev­ery­one is in­vited to join the Mo­bart Mo Bros for Movem­ber — even the Mo Sis­tas, since there are other ways to be in­volved other than grow­ing a mo, such as par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Point to Pin­na­cle, mak­ing a com­mit­ment to im­prov­ing your fit­ness dur­ing the month, host­ing a fundrais­ing event, or find­ing other cre­ative ways to sup­port the cause.

As for Wind­sor, he calls him­self a tra­di­tion­al­ist and plans to grow a mo again this year as he has ev­ery year since 2006. Even if his ef­forts are usu­ally a lit­tle poor.

“I grow what I’m given and I usu­ally scrape in by the end of the month, that’s when it fi­nally starts fill­ing in a bit and look­ing less sad. It’s mostly gin­ger, but a bit of grey [is] creep­ing in. Some­times the worse it looks, the [more] con­ver­sa­tions it starts, and that’s all good with me,” he says.

“Sud­denly half of the men in Tas­ma­nia are turned into walk­ing bill­boards and when­ever some­one asks you why you’ve got such a silly mous­tache, that’s your chance to say ‘well, I’m glad you asked ...’”

And don’t worry if your mo is slow to grow. Or if you’re a bit hairier than most. Or if your sig­nif­i­cant other isn’t a fan of the fuzz. It’s all part of the fun.

“It’s def­i­nitely more ac­cepted in my house­hold these days, my wife is very sup­port­ive of the mo and what it rep­re­sents,” Wind­sor says. “And it’s amaz­ing some of the mos we’ve seen grown in 30 days. The of­fi­cial rules state that you need to shave down on Novem­ber 1 so you start from scratch and we all have to go through that tough early pe­riod to­gether. But by the end of the month, I’ve seen one guy grow his all the way down and blend it into his chest hair.”

So if you see some bloke walk past you in the next cou­ple of weeks with a re­ally em­bar­rass­ing mous­tache, don’t just point and laugh, or chuckle about it after­wards. Go over and talk to him about it, even if it’s just to com­ment on how bad it looks. Chances are he prob­a­bly al­ready knows. And if you’ve started talk­ing to some­one new — for what­ever rea­son — that wispy rub­bish mo has al­ready served its pur­pose.

If you or any­one you know needs help con­tact: Life­line 13 11 14 or be­yond­blue 1300 22 463.

Movem­ber runs un­til Novem­ber 30, rais­ing funds and aware­ness for men’s health. Movem­ber fin­ishes with the Mo­gala Party, hosted by the Mo­bart Mo Bros on De­cem­ber 1, 7pm-mid­night, at the Tas­ma­nian Club, 132 Mac­quarie St. Tick­ets are $150 per per­son and can be booked at movem­ber.com. For more in­for­ma­tion about the Mo­bart Mo Bros, visit mo­bart­mo­bros.com

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