Gender bend photos give mo’ power to the ‘stache

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If you’ve noticed a growing number of moustache on the upper lips of men around Vancouver lately you don’t have to worry, you haven’t stepped into some 80s time warp. It’s Movember, the annual Prostate Cancer Canada fundraiser and awareness campaign. Joining the campaign this year is a group of local queer women sporting ‘staches of their own, in a series of photographs from local photographer Belle Ancell.

Robin Toma part of Belle Ancell's Mr/s. Movember ProjectEnlisting the help of six models from the local queer community, Ancell created the Mr/s. Movember Project, a series of eye-catching gender-bend portraits that she hopes will add to the dialogue around men’s health.

“Last year a colleague was growing a moustache. I questioned him about it and he said he was doing it for his brother who had prostate cancer and to raise money for Movember,” says Ancell. “I wished I could partake myself, but I can’t grow a moustache. I thought it would be fun to gather up some masculine oriented female models to don a moustache and then photograph them.”

Finding the models to sit for the six hour photo shoot was the easy part. “The hard part was only choosing six people,” says Ancell. “All the models are people I know personally or had an acquaintance with. I feel a lot closer to them now through this experience.”

Enlisting the help of visual effects make-up artist Isabelle Champigny, each of the models had either a unique moustache designed for them or a pre-made theatrical moustache was used.

“Each image took approximately two additional hours to edit in Photoshop to remove glue residue and to fill in any missing hair in the moustaches,” explains Ancell.

As one of the models chosen for the project, Robin Toma (photo right) describes the photo shoot as a total blast.

“I have never worn a stache before and to have one professionally attached was a trippy experience,” Toma recalls.  “It was interesting to me the character that emerged once we started shooting, with Madonna blasting and an electric energy in the studio, well just think 1978 Studio 58.”

More than simply raising awareness around Movember though, Ancell and Toma are hopeful that the photos will have a further reaching effect by creating positive images for the queer community, in addition to helping spark conversations about men’s health.

“One of the great things about Movember is that having a moustache starts conversations and gets Canadians talking about their health,” confirms Peter Bombaci, National Director of Movember Canada.

About Movember

Movember raises awareness and funds for men’s health issues, specifically prostate cancer and male mental health through the power of the moustache. For more information visit or follow them on Twitter.

About Belle Ancell Photography

Belle Ancell is a photographer who strives to push the boundaries of perceived beauty, gender, sexuality and relationship. Belle’s focus is on intimate portraiture and in creating compelling images. Visit or find her on FacebookVisit her blog for more information on The Mr/s. Movember Project.

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