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The previously unpopular moustache is making a comeback in the United States and United Kingdom, with many men sporting hair on their upper lip for fashion, coolness, and the month of Movember.
Text by: Charlotte Mountford
Photo: Courtesy of The Handlebar Club and public domain sites.
Country: The United States and England

oustaches were big in the ’70s and ’80s, a symbol of manliness and virility, popular among TV presenters and sports personalities, and even porn stars.

Then came the ’90s and the "tache" slid into sad obscurity, sported only by the brave and the slightly eccentric, but this may be changing.

"Moustache Parties," where all guests must arrive sporting a real- or fake-moustache, are currently all the rage in the U.S., even for children. "A room full of kids wearing pseudo ‘taches is non-stop fun!" claims an affiliated website.

Moustaches are even slightly "edgy." One stateside blogger declares, "moustaches are becoming a true trend again in Southern California. I kid not. It is not just for parties or No-Shave-Months, the moustache is truly in style, especially within the surf and hipster culture."

Many Moustache clubs and societies, who dedicate themselves to promoting healthy hair on the upper lip, are seeing their memberships rise.

One such society, The American Moustache Institute, is proudly "protecting the rights of, and fighting discrimination against, Moustached Americans."

They do this by promoting the growth, care and culture of the moustache,
even hosting the annual ‘Moustached American of the Year Award’ in memory of Robert Goulet, a T.V. personality famous for his tache.

Meanwhile, at the biannual World Beard and Moustache Championships, a panel of distinguished judges "chooses the best of the best in a variety of categories ranging from the most delicate of moustaches to the elaborate anything-goes freestyle full-beard."

The next World Championship will take place in Trondheim, Norway, in 2011 and there are sixteen categories of facial hair into which you can enter– so get growing!

The Championships say: "The United States is the world’s new facial hair super power," after the U.S. finally dethroned Germany – who had traditionally dominated the competition – in Anchorage, Alaska on May 23, 2009.

Across the pond, The Handlebar Club, based at the Windsor Castle pub in London was founded in 1947. This is an international club for men with handlebar moustaches still going strong today.

"The object of the Club was, and still is, to bring together moustache wearers socially for sport and general conviviality," say the club, but it must be noted, "beards are strictly prohibited."

Handlebar Club President, Rod Littlewood, a true moustached gentleman, ends his correspondence affectionately with "Yours to the last whisker."

Littlewood tells how King George VI of England in the late 1930′s was inspecting his troops at Windsor when, astonished at how young they looked, he decreed that they should all grow moustaches. "I’m a Podiatrist and one of my patient’s father was one of these troopers!" he adds.

"I’m not sure if taches are becoming more popular, even though more and more clubs are appearing" reflects Littlewood. "I think it’s just that with the Internet, it’s easier to connect with like-minded people."

"Moustaches are not liked by all," he says. "I believe they are not popular in the US Military for example, because they are associated with the gay community – wrongly in my opinion," he goes on. "Many men wear taches, gay or straight."

The aim of the Handlebar Club "was and still is to assist by all means at its disposal, any worthy charity or cause."

True then to the benevolent nature of the moustached man, they have gone on to inspire "Movember."

Movember (the month formally known as November) is the official month of the moustache. All over the world men spend Movember growing their facial hair for a noble cause. Friends will sponsor the effort and all proceeds go towards The Prostate Cancer Charity, to raise awareness for men’s health.

Richard Potts, 28, took part in London Movember 2010. "You would see other men doing Movember on the tube, giving each other nods of approval like we were in some secret fraternity," says Potts. "By the end of the month I had grown quite attached to it."

Jeremy Smith, 28, U.K., also took part in London Movember 2010. "My whole office got behind it and we had a few of the partners involved too," he says.

However Smith adds, "I struggled to get any sort of real ‘tache’ going, so was forced to go for the ‘Clark Gable’ look, rather than the ‘Tom Selleck’, mainly due to the lack of ability to grow anything better."

Despite the modesty of his moustache "it still was quite uncomfortable on my face," says Smith, "but I did it for prostate cancer and it was definitely worth it. Especially as my Dad is suffering at the moment, but battling though."

While unfortunately his moustache was, as one sponsor declared, "one of the worst moustaches ever," Jeremy Smith raised over £1150 for prostate cancer awareness. Other supporters described Smith’s moustache as "like a coffee stain," "woeful," and "a bit patchy," while another observed, "I can hairly see it."

Unlike some other moustached gentlemen, Smith would probably neither be admitted to The Handlebar Club, nor triumph at the World Beard and Moustache Championships. He might even be evicted from a Moustache Party.

Yet his fundraising efforts go to show the growing power of the moustache today, a facial feature that implies maturity, tradition, kindness, and gentility. And even if you aren’t Tom Selleck, you can still triumph in Movember.

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