Movember: Why would a woman choose to grow a moustache?
Why, oh why would a woman choose to grow a moustache? This was the question that passed through my mind in the moments following my discovery of Siobhan Fletcher, a 36-year-old taking part in “Movember”.
Movember, for those who might not know, is a campaign where men (well, usually men) grow moustaches over the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health – particularly prostate cancer. The “Mo Bros” are at it once again this year, hosting an array of moustaches from handlebars to imperials – and they mean serious business.
The Movember website states: “There is to be no joining of the mo to the sideburns (that’s considered a beard), there’s to be no joining of the handlebars to the chin (that’s considered a goatee) and each Mo Bro must conduct himself like a true gentlemen”.
But Siobhan Fletcher will not be conducting herself as a gentleman. The honorary Mo Bro suffers from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) which causes hormonal imbalance and can cause fertility problems. One symptom of PCOS is excessive hair growth and Fletcher admits that she has to shave every other day.
Is hosting a moustache a reasonable solution? She risks public ridicule and it’s hardly feminine. After a little time and reflection, I came to conclude the opposite; Fletcher is the epitome of a true woman. How do we define femininity? According a dictionary definition is it: “the quality of being female; womanliness: she celebrates her femininity by wearing make-up and high heels”. In a beauty-obsessed society, it’s unfortunate to say that the attributes of a woman amount to little else beyond her physical beauty, or should I say beyond “wearing make-up and heels”?
There’s nothing wrong with accentuating a woman’s natural beauty and a woman’s natural physique is something to be embraced and celebrated. But is “beauty” now an elusive concept? Women are constantly being told by advertisers that to be “beautiful”, that they need to change themselves physically in order to achieve it.
Also, in the 21st century what is considered ‘feminine’? We are lucky enough now to live in a world where we’re encouraged to be individuals rather than perpetuate stereotypes and tradition, but it may become difficult to define ourselves. One consistent attribute to women is motherhood. And a characteristic that can be drawn from motherhood is strength; to bear a child into the world requires great strength and courage.
If anything, the integrity Fletcher shows by taking part in Movember makes her a strong woman. After all, it takes guts for a woman to host a moustache in public. It takes courage to let the world learn details of private aspects of your life such as medical conditions. And it takes extraordinary kindness to face all this for the sake of altruism. Fletcher says her motivation is: “To use my PCOS as a tool for raising awareness for men’s cancer. If I get just one man to get checked out it will be worth it”.
If she has the guts to hit the streets hosting a tache, men should have the balls to get their health checks done (excuse the pun). She has raised over £500 already, along with this she has raised awareness of PCOS. On her Movember donation page Fletcher received a comment from a Jessica Smith, a fellow PCOS sufferer from Australia.
Smith says that Fletcher is: “an inspiration to us all”. A condition like PCOS has the potential to shatter a person’s confidence, Fletcher herself has suffered from depression in the past. By embracing her appearance she has overcome this obstacle, helping both herself and now others through charity.
Fletcher isn’t the only one using a medical condition to inspire others. The author of Be beautiful, Be you, Lizzie Velasquez was named the world’s most ugly woman by cyber bullies. Velasquez was born without adipose tissue meaning she has no body fat. The medical condition is so rare that there are only two known sufferers in the world. She endeavoured not only to empower herself but to empower others by writing her book.
She is also a motivational speaker and shares with audiences the troubles she faced both physically and emotionally dealing with bullies. When asked on the Dr Drew show how she copes with people staring at her she said: “I’m starting to want to introduce myself and say ‘Hi, I’m Lizzie, maybe you should stop staring and start learning’”.
If we take the time to consider a deeper meaning to beauty, we would realise how incredibly beautiful Velasquez and Fletcher really are. We need to learn from the resilience these women display on a daily basis. At some point or another, we too may be affected by syndromes, traits or simple misfortunes but we must strive to turn them into positive action.
For more on Movember visit uk.movember.comTagged in: Lizzie Velasquez, moustache, movember, PCOS, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, prostate cancer, Siobhan Fletcher, testicular cancer
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