Illustration of a male and female wearing blue surgical masks while kissing.

No Mask? We Shouldn’t Have to Ask

With the pandemic showing no signs of stopping, masks are as much personal protection as they are a fashion accessory Above all, they are an utmost necessity.
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I am not a mask enthusiast by any means. 

Perhaps, if I saw the physical COVID-19 germs shooting at me, I’d feel a stronger urgency to protect myself, but I know that this hidden killer is deadly.

Masks make my glasses fog up, an embarrassing obstacle that forces a reintroduction with contacts. It is hard to speak clearly through them and nearly impossible to understand non-verbal facial cues that connect us. I am heartbroken that my smile is being hidden from the world (this couldn’t have happened during my awkward braces phase)? However, what hurts the most is the newfound reminder that COVID-19 remains present at every corner, my February reality is long gone.

As much as I’m not too fond of this new reality, I cannot ignore three benefits of wearing a mask publicly, which outweighs all the negatives.

Protecting Neighbours

During this pandemic, humility is a physical gift we can provide for the most vulnerable. I can rub on as much hand sanitizer as possible and continuously check my temperature, but that does not guarantee I am not a carrier. My sister has Type 1 diabetes and is considered high risk, if wearing a mask means I protect just one person, then it’s worth it. I am not in a unique position by having a high risk loved one, and I must remember that anyone I encounter may be in a similar situation and respect their six-foot radius (even when wearing a mask). Even Batman said,

“I wear the mask to protect the people closest to me.”

Respecting Authorities

Our political leaders flopping back and forth on their opinions on masks has been endlessly frustrating. At first, we were saving supplies for front line workers, then, medical professionals were fighting each other’s views on the news; now, multiple Canadian cities are making it mandatory in indoor public spaces. 

However, I have to give them the benefit of the doubt, this is a new obstacle for all. I certainly would not want to make the call on these difficult decisions with strong opinions either way. The least I can do is follow their directives, and trust that they are prioritizing my health.

Uniting All

We will only defeat this if we all work together. Wearing a mask has become somewhat of a political statement with judgement being imparted either way; if you wear a mask do you appear too fearful? By choosing to wear masks altogether, it eliminates the stigma of judgment. I will wear a mask to make fellow mask wearers not feel isolated, I understand that this will not be overcome easily by the few, but the many. 

If masks are going to become a necessary new fashion accessory we need to treat them like any other fashion purchase – it needs to be something that we want to wear, made by a company we want to support. Feel free to wear what feels best for you, whether that is a blue surgical mask or a handmade one, check out these photos from a Brooklyn photographer displaying different types of masks! They demonstrate how masks do not have to make people intimidating, there is still a welcoming smile underneath.

Chioma Nnadi, Vogue’s fashion news editor, believes that masks are going to become the new sunglasses. They are not the first functional item that comes to mind when thinking of fashion, but different styles will fit different individuals best. When questioned whether wearing a stylish mask is seen as stylish, is seen as a flex rather than for one’s health, she responded, “I decorated my cast when I broke my ankle, wasn’t that making the best out of a sucky situation?” 

I’m supporting my friend Michelle’s local homemade-mask business, who is donating half of her proceeds to needy kids in her community (@masksbymichelle). I encourage you to also shop locally and support organizations giving back in difficult times, just remember to wash them as often as possible to avoid carrying germs when reusing. 

I cannot predict the future. If I could, I’d like to think COVID-19 might’ve spanned out a little differently. What I do know is that eventually, our world will be a safer place where I can show my smile off wherever I go. But until I’m given that opportunity, I’m going to do my contributing part and wear a mask that adds some beauty into our broken world.