There are many ingenious ways to raise awareness of how to check for early signs of cancer, but perhaps none quite so retro, as an ancient male fertility symbol getting made-over with a mustache for Movember. The Cerne Abbas Giant, in Dorset, England, a large feature carved into the chalky hillside, is imposing in a lot of ways, but it is fair to say that his most noteworthy feature, is his, er, how shall we say this, erect male member.
The 180 foot figure has been dated as 1694, and he stands there, proud and tall, to symbolize both fertility and spirituality, dominating the landscape with his awesome virility. He is now helping, 500 years on from his creation, to create awareness of a threat to male health. The twin deadly killers of prostrate and testicular cancer. By sporting his own handlebar moustache, made out of grass seed, the giant has added his facial hair support to an important campaign. Men who are participating in Movember will be hard pressed to emulate his awesome whiskers. They measure 36 feet by 9 feet.
Spokesman for the National Trust, Rob Rhodes, who looks after the land that the giant inhabits, said “It’s all a bit of fun to highlight an important subject” and also “I am sure the giant would approve.”
The Cerne Abbas giant, who wields a mighty club in one hand, became internationally renowned when he temporarily got a new buddy in 2007. This was when a chalk figure of Homer Simpson was carved adjacent to him as a promotional gimmick for The Simpsons movie. Now he has a new starring role as the poster boy for raising cancer awareness in his retro mammoth mustache which as makeovers go, could probably done wonders for his image as a fertility symbol if he had been wearing it all along. All he needs now is a gold medallion.
Movember has been a highly successful campaign to bring additional support to the understanding of prostrate and testicular cancer in men. The movement also shines a spotlight of attention over mental health problems. Men are notoriously reluctant to seek advice when they become unwell, or have problems that demand a greater level of review. Movember is a jovial way for all men to sprout some facial hair, give up shaving for a month and join in the brotherhood of braving up to these very real threats to their well being.
The MD from British Seed Houses, who provided the grass seed for the giant’s handsome ‘mo said “Movember is an important charity and with many men working in our industry, it’s one we are keen to back.” He also noted with no word of a lie “The giant is an iconic male symbol.” He is indeed. There is no getting away from the fact that the Cerne Abbas giant is every inch of a male!
No one really knows the true history behind the original sculpting of this extraordinary male specimen into a quiet and rural corner of the Dorset countryside. Some say he was meant to be a portrait of Oliver Cromwell, although this is just a theory. If is is true, it is particularly apt, as Cromwell was also the bearer of an especially splendid mustache. Serious historians are more inclined to believe that he dates back a lot further than that – possibly to the Iron Age.
As male fertility symbols go you cannot really get more fertile looking than the Cerne Abbas giant with his enormous, er, club. Now that he also sports a healthy upper lip he is doing his bit to raise crucial awareness of cancers that attack the male body. He may be retro, but he is really quite in with the times, as he joins in with the Movember madness and wears his metropolitan makeover with an indisputable dash.
By Kate Henderson