It’s funny how quickly habits can change in a society that seems dogged about its civil liberties and rights. Once upon a time, Americans made fun of Asians both in Asia and in the U.S. who would go outside wearing masks. They said they looked stupid, that they didn’t actually help with the spread and transmission of colds, flus, viruses. When the concept of wearing a mask seemed to finally be pushed by our flawed CDC, a number of machine-gun-bearing, pro-American freaks across the nation stormed around their state’s capitol buildings, holding signs and yelling that being forced to wear a mask when leaving their homes stripped them of their American freedoms, that wearing a mask was akin to being forced into slavery.
Do these people even know what slavery actually encompassed — across the world and in the very country that they call home? Because if they actually had any understanding of this in the slightest, they’d realize that being asked to wear a mask — to protect themselves, is not even remotely in the same realm as slavery.
Then throughout the month of April, the number of Americans wearing masks outside their homes grew and grew. During the first week of April, the number was around 30-40 percent depending on the area of the country. Then, now that we are in May, the data is showing that over 80 percent of the country is wearing masks when leaving their homes. And it’s even become a fashion statement: Nancy Pelosi seems to be color-coordinating all her masks with her outfits when in public and doing her usual House Speaker duties. There are new thinner, summer-ready masks that are being marketed and sold for park/beach wear. Social media influencers are modeling their different styles of masks on Instagram and TikTok.
So I thought to myself, if mask-wearing is part of our new normal, maybe I should start investing in color and pattern coordination, too, since why not? We have no idea how long this will last, and if it’s for the next year, a $10/mask investment really isn’t that much… especially considering that all the things we normally spend money on, such as eating out, socializing, travel, theater, are nonexistent for the near future. I went on Etsy and was overwhelmed with all the options: pattern or no pattern? Pockets? Adjustable straps? What size will fit my face vs. Chris’s? Filters or no filters? Extra room for the nose to allow for better breathing? Hmmmm.
Then, I checked the mail this week, and it just so happened that a colleague who I’ve been collaborating on a project with sent me a custom-made mask with my last name on it as a gift for our work together.
I guess this is the beginning of my mask collection? A year ago, I never would have thought I’d even own one mask. Now, I’ve got two along with all the airplane eye masks we’ve been using as make-shift masks.