The time has come once again when men around the world take a break from their clean shaven faces and for one month pursue the growing and grooming of that beloved form of facial hair, the moustache. The month of November is renamed ‘Movember’ all in aid of ‘changing the face of men’s health’. ‘Mo Bros’, as the male participants are called, grow moustaches to create more awareness for men’s health particularly prostate and testicular cancer. Originating in Melbourne, Australia in 2003 it has grown from 30 registrants in one country to over 800,000 registrants all across the world in 2011 making it a multicultural event.
Facial hair has had many different meanings throughout history and it has a rich, not to mention thick, curly and itchy history. When living and working overseas having an awareness of different views on beards and moustaches could help prevent misunderstandings and faux pas. Here are a few examples of differing cultures’ views on facial hair.
In ancient Egypt, beards were worn as a fashion statement. In ancient India beards were considered to be a sign of dignity and wisdom. Ancient Greeks considered beards to be manly and those not wearing beards were considered disgraceful. The ancient Romans, in contrast, considered beards to be a sign of laziness. Throughout the Renaissance and modern times, beards have fallen in and out of favour all throughout the world. Within history and within different cultures facial hair has been attributed with wisdom, knowledge or traps and vagabonds.
In Sikhism they believe that the beard and hair in general is given by God. Sikhs believe that God created the male body with hair therefore it is against his will to remove it.
Keeping beards in Hinduism depends on the Dharma that is being followed. The ancient text followed regarding beards depends on the Deva and other teachings, varying according to whom the devotee worships or follows. In the Dharma it is said that wearing a moustache is regarded as a sign of evil.
In Islam men are required to wear a beard because of the prophet Muhammad saying that men should grow their beards. Even the length of the beard can distinguish different Muslims, the longer beard being associated with Sunni and a closely trimmed beard being associated with Shi’a.
In the western world a moustache used to be a sign of stature but now is seen in an almost amusing way whereas a beard is often associated with being unkempt.
The views on facial hair vary hugely across cultures. In some countries facial hair is comical however in some its meaning is rooted in their key values and beliefs. A cultural awarenessof these differing views can help understand these meanings. However, Movember forms bridges across these differences and uses facial hair as a tool to gain attention of a serious cause through a potentially comical action. The international reach of this month-long event shows how people from all around the world can come together for a common cause, regardless on their culture or background.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2012