I have been thinking a lot about masks lately.
Masks have been part of the world’s history and culture since the beginning and are used for protection, disguise, entertainment and ritual. We all love the bright, colorful masks of Mardi Gras. Who isn’t amazed by the gilded death masks of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. What about the dramatic and frightening warrior masks of Asia?
I have been strangely fascinated with the beaked masks that doctors wore during the plague. An article on theconversation.com, “A brief history of masks from the 17th-century plague to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” states, “At the time, disease was believed to spread through miasmas — bad smells that wafted through the air. The beak was stuffed with herbs, spices and dried flowers to ward off the odors believed to spread the plague.” Now the bird beak makes sense.
We are now living with masks daily. There is no doubt that they are bothersome. The elastic loops can hurt your ears. If you have to wear glasses, masks cause them to fog up. Masks constantly slip when you are talking. Eating and drinking while masked pose new challenges. People’s cheeks are breaking out from dryness and irritation. However, masking is the new norm. We need to accept it. You are protecting others, and they are protecting you.
To put a further positive spin on the subject, here are my Top 5 good things about wearing masks (in no particular order):
5. Masks are a self-contained sneeze guard. When I sneeze, I go big or go home. Some people have these perfect sneezes where you can actually here the ah-choo. Some do a rapid-fire series of cute, tiny sneezes. Me? I sound like my head is literally going to blow off of my shoulders. Therefore, I have found the mask to be extremely helpful in containing the volcanic eruption from my nose.
4. Masks ward off unpleasant odors. I am not a fan of public restrooms and will avoid them if at all possible. But when the going gets tough, as they say, the tough have to get going, even if it is to a public restroom. To me, bathroom duties are a private affair no matter what. My husband and I don’t have and did not want the large, double-sink vanity. He has his bathroom time. I have mine, and never the two shall meet. But I digress. Back to masks and public restrooms, without going into much detail, masks filter the air, which is a blessing. Enough said.
3. Masks justify the choice to not wear make-up. That’s my everyday life. I need make-up, of that I’m sure, especially some days more than others, but I’ve never been one who enjoys wearing it. I slap on some sunscreen and occasionally some lip balm and call it a day. Masks have given several women a reason to join the ranks of the non-cosmetic crew. Masks not only instantly rub off the make-up that you have taken the time to carefully apply but also the mask ends up wearing the make-up, which can be a bit unseemly.
2. Masks create a game wherever you go. How many times since the COVID-19 crisis began have you been at the grocery store or elsewhere and have seen someone who looked familiar? Instantly, you become a sleuth, trying to deduce the person’s identity simply from the eyes up. Most often, the person at whom you are staring laughs and pulls down his or her mask for a second or two to help you out. Imagine being a police sketch artist in the days of COVID. All the witness descriptions begin with “Well, he was wearing a mask…”
1. Masks could make Halloween a lot easier. You poor parents of school-age children. You have had a hard road during COVID-19. Take some time off and make life easy for yourselves this year by being practical about your child’s Halloween costume. Black mask paired with black clothing? Your kid is a ninja. White mask paired with white clothing? Your child can be a medical professional. Red mask paired with dad’s coat and some glow-in-the-dark tape? Instant firefighter. Parents, relax. You deserve it.
In all seriousness, we want COVID to go away. Let’s wear our masks to protect each other and bid COVID goodbye sooner versus later. Remember the three W’s: Wait six feet apart. Wash your hands often. Wear your mask. The importance of masks is what’s percolating right now.
Christina Wells lives in Halifax with her husband Bruce and their dog Sunny.