Behind the mask

Face coverings shouldn’t be used as shield from society

Senior+Iya+Jackson+wears+a+mask+to+school+to+protect+others%2C+not+to+hide+insecurities.

Photo by Sydney Rowe

Senior Iya Jackson wears a mask to school to protect others, not to hide insecurities.

Story by Iya Jackson, Staff Writer

The CDC recommended the public begin social distancing and wearing masks on April 3, 2020. 

We went from being in a close congregation with our family and friends to it being mandatory that we are six feet apart at all times with our faces covered. It became the new normal.

Masks became a new accessory, with a variety of different sizes, colors and designs. Amazon has over 70,000+ masks listed under the search “cute mask,” and “Vogue” even gave them their own catalog. 

We have given our mask sentimental value due to the personal experiences COVID has shaped for us in the past year.

Gov. Greg Abbott ended the mask mandate on March 10 in Texas. People continued to wear them for health reasons, but I did not realize, until having a conversation with a friend, that some people also wear masks to hide things they don’t like about themselves. 

Schools started and students were not required to wear masks, but some days I did choose to wear a mask and other days I did not. I began to wonder why. In a society where hiding and covering up who you are is routine, masks fit right in. 

“I’m just going to put a mask on today because I have a pimple,” said a girl I overheard in the restroom. 

I thought of all the times I have done this and all the times I have overheard this. The reasoning behind masks making some of us feel comfortable enough to get through our day is because the thing that we don’t like is hidden.

A friend once told me that she didn’t want to walk in the grocery store without a mask because she felt ugly. According to “Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem, seven in 10 girls feel insecure in the way they look, and when masks came along, these numbers did nothing but increase.

Before COVID, if you had a pimple you would just deal with it because pimples are normal and you know that everyone gets them. Feeling ugly without a mask was never even a thought. 

Wearing masks has added to people’s insecurities. Masks have made us forget about our normalcy as people and have created this “mask anxiety” that we need to free ourselves from. 

Wear a mask to protect your health and the health of those around you, not to hide yourself. There is going to be a time in life again when we don’t have to wear masks and we will have to adjust, and the best time to adjust is now.