In spite of the recent events in the world, people have found a fun and interesting way to express themselves by wearing masks as well as normalize the need for them.
Covid-19 is a virus transmitted through the air, so it makes sense that the way to slow the spread would be to limit the germs the human body expels. Wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart from each other are just a few of the ways people are being safe while out and about.
Some people though do not see the point of wearing a mask; some believe mandating the wearing of masks at school and local businesses is an infringement against their rights. Others believe wearing a mask is beneficial to the health and safety of everyone around them.
Senior Amelia Griesedieck is a believer in wearing masks.
“It’s absolutely important to wear a mask. It’s a simple thing you can do while out and with other people to help slow the spread and keep you and others safe. I currently work a food service job right now where I’m interacting with customers pretty often, and I always feel better and safer when customers come in wearing masks (properly and over the nose!). I always keep mine on for my and other people’s safety, so I think it’s at least considerate for everyone to keep theirs on too. It doesn’t infringe on your health, especially if you’re wearing it for shorter periods of time, and it helps make other people around you feel safer,” Griesedieck said.
People have taken to lightening the drab of wearing a mask everywhere by decorating them. Getting patterned fabric, painting on them or putting pins are just a few of the ways people are expressing themselves with the current epidemic.
“I think it’s very cool that people are using masks to express things about themselves. Especially in workplaces or schools with dress codes, it’s a simple way to add some personalization to an outfit. Also, some people that are into fashion have fun with matching masks to outfits,” 2019 Webster graduate Noah Carroll said.
“My favorite mask is one that has mushrooms on it. I like mushrooms and nature a lot, so I wanted to convey that through a patterned mask because I can’t wear patterned clothing at work,” Carroll said.
Other people have chosen not to wear patterned masks.
“The mask I prefer to wear everyday does not have a design on it. It’s a plain black mask from Walgreens, but if there were any masks that are also good quality and have a good design, I would definitely not be opposed to purchasing one,” Griesedieck said.
People have also taken to being political with their masks. The Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd have led many Americans to wearing buttons, T-shirts and masks with sayings in support of the movement.
“They’re a great way to remind people of the other epidemic that’s going on within this country, systemic and institutionalized racism. They are up to date with the times and the politics, and I personally see nothing wrong with them,” Griesedieck said.
Carroll is in support of BLM masks but sees where issues may arise.
“The ‘I can’t breathe’ masks could be seen the wrong way. What I mean is some anti-maskers are using the phrase ‘I can’t breathe’ to protest masks. I find it repulsive that they are taking a phrase used to protest the killings of innocent black people at the hand of police and using it to protest something that saves lives,” Carroll said.
The topic of reusable vs. single-use masks has also been up for debate lately. The waste that is accumulated from throwing away single-use masks is seen as detrimental to the environment.
“Single-use masks are definitely a pollution issue. Many people don’t dispose of them properly. They are unsustainable, and if the straps aren’t cut before disposal, they are also a threat to wildlife. The masks get tangled around animals necks and legs etc. However, disposable masks are sometimes the only ones that some people can access because they are often given out for free by workplaces/schools/etc…,” Carroll said.
Being unable to find reusable masks locally or ones with enjoyable designs is a problem for many. Some have turned to buying masks from Amazon or even purchasing from small businesses that specialize in custom masks.
About what they thought about people buying from custom artists and some of the high prices custom artists were charging, Griesedieck said, “I think it’s definitely becoming a new way to profit off the pandemic. Masks are becoming more accessible to more people, so it’s really up to the individual and the market they’re aiming towards whether or not they want to price their mask that high. Again, as long as it works and people are wearing masks, I don’t think it really matters where you get a mask from.”
Carroll supports small businesses and online artists, but he disagrees with the prices some artists are charging.
“I think of it like a shirt. If I wouldn’t pay that much for a shirt, I probably won’t pay that much for a mask that’s a fraction of the size. You do have to also consider the quality of the masks and whether it uses effective mechanics in it’s filtration. Either way, even an effective mask shouldn’t cost as much. It’s important to support independent artists, but those artists need to understand that expensive masks aren’t within many people’s budgets,” Carroll said.
This is Zeke La Mantia’s second year on with Echo publications. He has earned multiple awards for his photographic contributions.