Sitting on the couch in my auntie’s new built home, the basement still under construction, my brother asleep on my lap as I scrolled through Snapchat for entertainment and through emails. Reading about recent breaking news and news from around the world. All were about the virus or certain parts of it, but the part that caught my attention was the ads for masks and other devices and strategies to use to keep distance and from spreading infection. It made me wonder about what would happen after the pandemic, if it will ever end, and what would change in America’s society or not. Will masks become the new normal and will it be worn by everyone or for only the ones that feel sick or unsafe without it? Will it slowly become an accessory to the outfit or figure of a person or still be a necessity for public safety?
Some more people show up for the Sunday celebration of Mother’s day. Some Corona, wine and dessert for the ending to a large feast that happened earlier. As the adults of the party talked, the kids played inside and outside. The older ones slept on the couches or drove off in a carpool together in search of entertainment. Even though the older kids wore their homemade masks grandma had made or the one-use masks auntie had bought, are they truly protected and does it give them right to socializing? Mostly no, social distancing is being strongly encouraged and enforced as well as quarantining yourself. Some stores and other places also have employees or guards making sure people wear masks in their stores or public places to slow infections or contamination. This has given rise to a COVID-19 snitching, tattle-telling on people who don’t meet the new requirements of this outbreak. Such as a mask being two-layered or even not wearing gloves.
Masks made from home; shirts, bandannas and other cloths, are meant to protect you from others. The masks that actually block air particles and slightly protect the wearer are surgical and N95 respirators masks which are saved for the medical staff that risk infection at their work in the hospitals. Even though masks have become something needed, some say it doesn’t have to be for everyone. There are also other ways to stop infection rates from rising like staying indoors to work and study, only doing gatherings with 10 and less people, washing your hands and trying not to touch your face.
So will it be a new trend in America? Most times face masks are seen as something normal and numerous in East Asian countries, however it has moved to America through immigration and other outbreaks (2002 SARS and 2006 bird flu). The trend of face masks started a long time ago because of terrible natural events, diseases, and pollution. The trend began in Japan in the 1920s when a huge pandemic of influenza broke out and killed 20-40 million people worldwide. A few years later and the Great Kanto Earthquake triggered a massive inferno that destroyed 600,000 homes and air quality lowered significantly for months causing people to wear filtered masks and partake in other precautions. Finally after a global flu epidemic, Japan and face masks became an official pair and the trend has spread slowly. However, the masks are worn mostly during the winter and is a courtesy to wear if someone felt off or sick. Their beliefs also could have a factor on why they buy and use masks often, such as believing they protect your spirit and health from bad air.
Seeing as America is in a pandemic, will the same trend happen here and will society accept it in large numbers? The trend has already been brought to America, but the pandemic could make it more relevant. Even if it does not protect people from breathing in bad particles, it could become a new fashion trend and a popular accessory as it has been in Asia. As more and more people wear, make, and decorate their own masks it could be the new normal as people like the security or the anonymity it gives them in public.