Face Masks Are Now A Part Of Our Culture
Just a few short months ago it seemed impossible that there could be any way for our culture to shift so dramatically. But, the fact is that it has. And, it’s quite possible that this change will be one that lasts for years if not decades. It’s even possible that things may never go back to the way that they were before we all learned words like coronavirus and COVID-19. Still, this is hardly the first time a major event has brought about drastic changes in culture.
There are many examples of this just within the culture of America and just within the last several decades. A few examples of this include the attacks on September 11, 2011. On that day our world changed in a fundamental and life altering way for every American. For one thing it changed the whole process by which we travel and led to the creation of an entire new government department in the Transportation and Safety Administration or TSA. Before that day it was far easier to board a commercial flight and there were little to no delays or requirements in doing so. But now, nearly twenty years later, the changes that were made in the effort to prevent future attacks of that kind, few of us even think about what it was like before that.
In this article:
- Not Accepting Reality
- Face Masks: New To Us But Not To The World
- Making The Most Of It
- Face Masks With A Western Flair
- Not Everything Is About Fashion
- Extreme Masking
- Face Mask New Norm
An even more recent life altering set of events have culminated in a major change to the way we all had to adjust to entering buildings and other locations because of the explosion in mass shootings. All one has to do is look at what it’s like now when trying to enter a school or other public building. In what seems like only a handful of years ago there were no metal detectors and security forces stationed at the entrances of school and courthouses and so many other types of establishments. And, there was certainly no talk of arming teachers with guns.
There are other examples such as the fall of communism which largely put to rest much of the worries involving a large scale world war, at least for some time. One could also point to the legalization of gay marriage which tore down yet another major barrier and brought millions upon millions of people closer to a sense of full and equal rights for everyone. Add to that the election win of Barack Obama who became the first black president and showed this country and the world that America could overcome racism, at least in one critically important way.
There are many more examples that we could mention but what’s important to understand is that the world changes and we are often forced to change with it, no matter how much we might not want to. And, with the advent of the coronavirus and the mounting cases and deaths in this country alone which have surpassed one and half million and one hundred thousand respectively, we are seeing the world change once again as it becomes clear that we may have this disease with us for years to come. And, that’s why wearing a mask to protect oneself and others could well be a normal part of life that, in just a couple of years, might make it hard to remember what it was like before this all happened.
Not Accepting Reality
Even as wearing a mask is becoming a normal and regular part of life in the wake of COVID-19 there is a significant number of people who will not accept this as a part of life. According to many news accounts there is something that could be called a movement to deny what has happened with regard to the disease and to reject some or all of the efforts to mitigate the damage from it.
All over the country we are finding more and more business owners who are actually turning away customers who are wearing face coverings. One report even cites a business owner who has said that he will treat anyone wearing a face mask in his establishment the same way that he would treat a masked robber. Now, others may not be that extreme but they tend to express a real concern that people wearing masks have given into an unreasonable fear and that they will not let their businesses help to reinforce a behavior that they think is unfounded.
Of course, all of this is happening as medical professionals, researchers and political leaders on both sides of the aisle petition everyone in the country to wear masks and maintain social distancing practices whenever they are in the public space.
Face Masks: New To Us But Not To The World
It is true that wearing a mask as part of daily public life is a new thing to Americans on the whole but that is not the case for many millions of people around the globe. In fact, the practice has a long history dating back about one hundred years in many parts of Asia. This was started as the Influenza epidemic swept across the world and hit parts of the Asian continent extremely hard. So bad, for example, that India lost as much as five percent of its entire population to the disease. And, in Japan, the amount of deaths was quite staggering as well. Add to that the fact that there was another calamity, a massive earthquake, just a few years later that left many dead and large fires burning entire sections of cities. Put that all together with another outbreak of the flu within the next decade and it’s easy to see why wearing face masks has become an everyday part of life in Japan ever since.
What this all shows is that wearing of face masks is not a new phenomenon for much of the world and it’s really just a case that the reasons for using them are well-established and merely spreading around the globe as the circumstances that caused them to be a cultural norm are just now becoming something that applies to the rest of us.
Making The Most Of It
A quick look around the globe also shows that Japan and India are far from the only countries with a long history of wearing masks as part of everyday wear when out in the public spaces. For instance, a look at places such as Nigeria and Turkey shows that this has been such a common practice that people have long made masks a part of their wardrobe to the point where they have come up with a long list of exotic embellishments in order to make them more attractive. And, this has led to a growing business and more and more fashion designers are making masks that are actually part of their ensembles.
This is long been true in those countries with long histories of wearing masks such as with the work of renowned Nigerian designer, Safiya Diejomoah, who wears her own set of creations in an effort to make a necessity something fun instead of a sign of the harsh realities of living in a place with a long history of infectious diseases such as Ebola. And, then there is the Turkish designer, Oktay Seven, who is offering a number of mask styles which include tiny jeweled stones among other elaborate designer details.
Face Masks With A Western Flair
It may seem surprising for people in the west to pick up so quickly on a practice which as been a common part of life in so many parts of the east but it is now at the point where many of the top western fashion designers are getting in on the act. Take for example, Karl Lagerfeld. All over France and beyond, people are walking past shop displays that have a large decal in the window depicting a cartoon drawing of the famous designer wearing a mask. And, all of the most famous fashion magazines are writing article after article with their opinions on how, where and when to wear masks. And, of course, they are discussing the trends in fashionable masks and whose designs are the most sought after.
In fact, the popularity of these designer masks has grown so much and so quickly that many of the most popular makes and designs are out of stock soon after they become available.
Not Everything Is About Fashion
As nice as the idea about making masks for attractive and fun to wear is, there is something even better about the growing involvement of top designers and the people that work with and for them. Many of Europe’s most prestigious houses of fashion are spending a great deal of time, money and effort into producing simple but effective cloth masks for the people who are on the front lines in the battle against the virus. There have been numerous reports that companies such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton have their personnel working to produce up to twenty non-surgical masks per person per day which are being donated to caregivers wherever they are needed.
Just as there are those who are seeking to deny the need for and the use of masks, there are those who are taking the wearing of masks to what some might call an extreme. Some examples of this can be found in places like Eastern Europe as well as in Central and South America. In these places and others, there are growing parts of the population that are totally embracing the use of masks. This can be seen in the increasing number of online events and even live events where custom designers and artists of all kinds are coming together to show and sell their works which can range from pieces made with exotic materials to radical designs such as long bird beak designs made from leather which can cover the entire face and feature built in goggles.
Face Mask New Norm
Yes, when something becomes a regular part of life for a large segment of society then it is easy to see how it ends up being accepted to the point where it becomes part of the culture. And, as we can all see from looking at what has been going on all around the world for the last hundred years or so, it’s plain to see that masks are already starting to be seen as part of the greater culture of the west.
Will this be something that lasts far beyond the fears that we have regarding coronavirus. It’s hard to say at this time but all one has to do is look at the history of Japan and it becomes evident that not every country or region is lucky enough to have a massive outbreak of a highly contagious and deadly disease just once in a century. And, not every virus gets a quick and widely distributed vaccine.
Whatever happens over the next year or two, it seems apparent that the use of masks in the countries of the west is something that will likely stick around for a while and may even become a central part of our lives if COVID-19 doesn’t go away quickly or if there are other calamities that follow in a short period of time.
As of this writing, we have found FDA-certified masks here: