24 Nov Moustaches Are Cool, Cancer Isn’t
These days it seems that every horrid atrocity, whether it be a mass shooting or a disease outbreak, brings with it a plea to perform some random act (usually on social media) to “raise awareness” around the issue.
Right now your Facebook newsfeed is probably flooded with blue and white striped profile pictures created to “show support” for the awful Paris attacks that happened on Saturday.
Like the annual cancer awareness charade.
During breast cancer awareness month, Always will always add a strip of pink to its packaging, while tired-looking pensioners hand you pink ribbons in the mall and pink posters accost you with a curly font urging you to ‘visit your doctor regularly’. Because you’re a female so everything related to you is marked with this gender specific colour – even your cancer.
It’s as if, like the TV ads that use a hairless leg to advertise a new razor blade because the idea of seeing a woman’s hairy leg is too repulsive an idea for us all, the pink is supposed to act as a distraction from the undignified, painful, unfair reality that is cancer.
And then there’s Movember. The annual call for men to grow a moustache to “raise awareness” around men’s health issues. It has since become a style trend to assist men with upping their selfie game.
Now I’m sure that the many Movember specials offered annually raise much needed funds for the hardworking Movember charity, however, what I’m not sure about is what a cute moustache icon is doing about the stigma surrounding cancer.
Because while we’re all more than happy to sport the latest trend (sometimes even putting our money where our moustache is) we’re still tiptoeing around those who suffer from the disease, putting on solemn faces around them or worse treating them like lepers, denying them jobs and opportunities we don’t think they’ll be able to handle. But really, what do we cancer-free people know about their daily lives? About what they can and can’t do? Sweet nothing unless we know someone personally.
And so we grow facial hair, we buy a moustache-printed notebook from Typo and tell ourselves we’ve done our bit. While somewhere, a bald woman is heaving over a toilet bowl. A gaunt man is crying with pain as his family watch helplessly. Surprisingly, I do not think they are comforted by the hairy-lipped hipster or the pink tampon box.
Now I don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun. No wait, actually I do. I want us to grow fewer moustaches and talk more about cancer. I want less insulting pink and more listening to cancer sufferers and survivors. Because honest conversation leads to solutions. Surely, if we really want to help, we should talk to the people that need help and see what they need.
I think we’ll find a pink tampon wrapper won’t be very high on the list of things they ask for.
To those interested, this is a great cancer support group is holding a series of talks on living with cancer and Bev Rycroft has written some witty, heart-wrenching, gut-punching poems on the subject – check out her website.