Movember’s Fuzzy Origins

By: Kevin Yu ’18

With the beginning of December, the 2017 Movember will soon come to an end. Movember is a nationwide organization raising funds on behalf of prostate cancer research, and Bellarmine ASB signed up for Movember in 2010 under U.S. history teacher Ms. Troyan, who was ASB director at the time.

“I didn’t know how many years Movember had been going on, but word was getting around about what it was and one of our seniors on ASB, Andrew Clem, came up with the idea to change it to Movember and make it school wide,” Ms. Troyan said. “We ran the idea by ASB and talked to the principal, Mr. Meyercord, about it, and he was all for it.”

Movember began in 2004, in Melbourne, Australia and steadily grew until Bellarmine adopted it in 2010. However, Bellarmine had a similar contest, the Senior Beard Contest, long before Movember.

“We used to have something called the Senior Beard Contest. It was in the spring, just before Senior Ball. It was only seniors and we didn’t have a mustache category: it was just beards. You signed up, but you didn’t pay money,” Ms. Troyan said. “The categories were the same: ASB votes but there’s always one for dirtiest beard and best goatee. If you win in any category you get to keep the beard until prom. It was a fun rite of passage for seniors.”

The senior beard contest was a free competition for seniors in the spring and had been going on at Bellarmine for many years before Bellarmine switched to Movember. The two programs were so similar that ASB made a smooth transition, and Bellarmine has been doing Movember ever since.

“Underclassmen can’t grow facial hair anyhow, but we’re going to let them and have a t-shirt. Now you sign up and pay your 20 dollars,” Ms. Troyan said. “It was ASB that came up with the parameters of how it’s going to work. They decided that you’ll sign up online and sign up for Bellarmine’s team. We decided the seniors don’t have to pay, because in the past they got to do it for free. Everyone else got on board, and even the women teachers got on board to support the men. The faculty got excited about it.”

With the more open-ended campaign of Movember, which initially started as an individual fund raiser much like breast cancer awareness, many teachers have taken to growing or thickening some impressive mustaches.

“Mr. Adams always grows his beard around this time of year, partially because he always plays Santa at Christmas for some charity. Mr. Romano, the athletic director, was big on it when he was a college guidance counselor. Fleitas has done it. Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell who just has a mustache, and who is doing this,” Ms. Troyan said. “I’m not sure if Mr. Williams did it or just has a mustache. We had a lot of support.”

Movember provides a way for the school — seniors, underclassmen, and teachers — to have a community event, while contributing to cancer research organizations such as the American Cancer Society. Bellarmine has had a long tradition of beard-based contests, and Movember only taps further into it.

“So, that’s how it got started,” Ms. Troyan said. “We made it as a fundraiser, and everyone can do it.