COVID-19 Has Changed the Role of Masks in Society

Photo by Xingyue HUANG on Unsplash

It’s undeniable that the pandemic has ruined many aspects of life for the average person. We all have a bit of agoraphobia. We’re paranoid, we’re germaphobes. But the pandemic hasn’t brought us exclusively bad things. It has made us more wary of our own health and the health of others as we go about our lives. It has normalized the wearing of masks in public spaces, and frankly, I hope they become permanently normalized in American society.

Before COVID, I was never really afraid about getting sick. It’d usually just be a mild cold, and I may be out of commission for a few days or just feel off but still be able to attend classes. I might’ve been occasionally anxious if a nasty flu was going around my college campus, but beyond that I didn’t really think about it. Thinking now and looking back though, I think the inconvenience of wearing a mask is far less of a nuisance than getting even a minor cold could be. When (and, well, if) this pandemic ends, I’ll continue to wear my mask out in public. If not for my own health, then the health of others.

In the culture of China, Japan, Korea, and other eastern countries, mask wearing is normalized. It’s why, in those places, it was easier for people to adapt to mask mandates and quarantine procedures. A lot of that wariness stems from the numerous SARS pandemics that these countries had suffered from historically. Hopefully, in spite of pro-plague (I refuse to call them anti-mask) idiots, the COVID pandemic will make Americans realize the usefulness of masks and will continue to wear them into the future.

Another major pro on the trans/nonbinary side of things is that, at least for me personally, wearing a mask helps me with my dysphoria. It hides my acne, my scars, those stray hairs on my face. It makes me feel more safe and secure in myself, as people cannot easily judge me by my face. Until I can actually start transitioning, face masks are a useful crutch for making my mental health and self image just a little bit better.

Ultimately, I think masks are an Extremely Good Thing all around. I hope that they stick around and are a part of American culture from now on. Even if this pandemic ends, I will continue wearing a mask in public spaces and on public transportation, for both my safety and the safety of others. I’d much rather avoid the inconvenience of getting sick and potentially missing schoolwork, or having a vacation or trip ruined because I got sick on the way. I encourage others to do the same, if not for their own health then the health and safety of others, especially if you are actually sick.

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Larke.

Larke.

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[Xey/Xem, It/its] An agender creature. Writes about things sometimes.