The Masks of COVID - 06/24/2020
Updated: Jul 1, 2020
One item I never expected to have a full wardrobe of was surgical masks. It never occurred to me that there would be a circumstance where I needed to wear a mask all the time, since I am not a health care professional. I did have a few of the cup-like, hard masks when I used to fly all the time, because I would invariably get sick every time I flew across the country. But I never wore them, because I thought they looked too silly. I don't feel that way any more.
I currently own seven types of masks, including the hard ones which are the least comfortable. They also leave mask marks on my face. After a couple of days of wearing them on the job at Walmart, I purchased a cloth mask online. It is reusable and theoretically more comfortable. I ordered it in stylish black, but the one I received is a deep teal. Still, not a bad color. It is soft, but hot; however, it does hold up, so far, to several washings. I was provided with a set of several soft masks by my employer at Senior Helpers; they are disposable, but so far are the most comfortable. I was also gifted with a black cloth one by a friend; it's cute but hard to breathe through. And I get the second layer caught in my mouth every time I try to talk. I purchased a similar white one at Walgreen's when I accidentally left mine at home; same problems as the black one, but the white looks stylishly summery. I purchased a set of three thin masks (they're only one layer, so they probably don't protect at all) with cute slogans on them: "Stay back 6 feet," "Social Distancer," and "Essential." I thought they were cute when I ordered them, but when they arrived they just looked silly to me, and I realized I didn't want people reading my face, so I haven't used them. The best ones I have are two sent to me by Humana, my health insurance provider. They are a cool lime green, with a white liner, and are light and easy to breathe through. The only problem is the little logo on the bottom left corner. Every time I wear them I feel like a billboard.
So I am equipped with a full range of mask styles and colors which should last me well past the end of the pandemic. Or at least I hope they will. Since Arizona reopened in mid-May, we have become the number one state in terms of numbers of new cases. My county, Pima, has mandated that everyone wear masks in public spaces, since June 20. Now, everywhere I go nearly everyone is wearing a mask. I find them hot and uncomfortable, but I also feel naked if I don't have one on now. But the aspect of mask-wearing that I dislike the most is that you can't see if people are smiling. It's very hard to communicate warmth and friendliness when you are wearing a mask that covers the lower half of your face. I'm a big smiler, and I miss seeing other people's smiles. There are some advantages, though. If you are a woman of a certain age like me, the mask very effectively covers the deep wrinkles around your mouth (smile lines and for me, years of drinking through a straw). Also, you only need to wear eye makeup; lipstick is no longer necessary because no one will see your mouth. And if you don't feel silly wearing it when alone in your car, you can use it to hide when you are singing along to the radio at the top of your lungs.
I don't understand the virulent resistance to the mask that some people are displaying. They claim their "rights" are being infringed upon. But how? It's like wearing a seatbelt or obeying the no smoking signs. They are life-saving measures. Why is wearing a make so different? And why has it become a red/blue thing politically, with in general Republicans resisting the mask and Democrats complying. I didn't realize I was making a political statement by wearing a mask, but I'm okay with that. I just don't understand it. I do take inspiration from Nancy Pelosi's stylin' mask wardrobe; she seems to have one to match every outfit. If I were in the public eye, I would definitely be color-coordinating my masks. It's an accessory, and us fashionistas like to have our accessories complement our outfits. And many companies have started making masks in multiple colors and designs. My favorites are the denim ones being sold by The Gap. I've also seen football team logos and of course, "MAGA" on masks (Make America Great Again).
This is a strange time in our history. I find myself checking to make sure that everyone is wearing a mask when I go in a store or restaurant, and if they're not, I give them a hostile glare only to realize that since my mask covers so much of my face they can't read my expressions. I have read that bank robberies are up, because criminals can't be identified if they are wearing a mask when they commit the robbery. "Mask breath" is a thing; so is "macne" (the breakout you get from wearing a mask all day). I discovered after wearing a mask all day on my job I have a zit on my chin. I'm 62, and I'm still getting pimples! These are just a few of the unintended consequences of mandating masks. But if it saves lives, I'm all for it. Mask up, everybody! And look good doing it! There are so many styles available, you have no excuse.