Ever since the COVID pandemic started, masks have been a constant tool in daily life. We as a society have gone from questioning whether it’s necessary to deciding which one goes best with our outfit. Now that a year has passed since we started having to wear them, they have become necessary to daily life. We give the same energy of “oh man I forgot my keys” when rushing out of the house to masks now. And if you think you can fight me on it, I will gladly step in the ring. So, let’s take a trip down memory lane and see how mask-wearing has changed since the pandemic started.
March 2020-June 2020
When the pandemic first started, we all were pretty new to wearing masks. It was kind of a struggle to grab some at a store because everyone was scrambling at grocery stores. Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and masks were all pretty hard to find at your local Walmart or Target. Even so, it was also a learning curve to remember to wear it at all times while out and about, as more and more information was being revealed on how to be safe amidst everything.
Sometime around April, people started to capitalize on the mask situation by making their own and selling them. I remember driving to Walmart a couple times and seeing with a wall of them for $5 a piece. In fact, I still have the first one I bought— ahh the memories.
July 2020-September 2020
At this time, not only were Covid regulations at full force, but so were politics. The election headlined every news site. So, people were very politically charged, and thus birthed several anti-mask movements. Videos across the country went viral of people yelling at retail workers for not allowing them into stores without masks. There was one video that hit TikTok and Instagram of a group of people without masks skipping along in a Target, blasting music, telling people to take their masks off. It looked like a scene from High School Musical…
People grew agitated at the time. Several political movements gave way, and people were growing tired of being stuck in their houses all the time. So, masks were probably the icing on the cake of misery for them. I ran into my fair share of people who hated them, but they didn’t bother me or others around me as much.
October 2020-December 2020
In seven months, masks had become pretty normal. You can buy designed ones, packs of regular medical ones, and even some with filters practically anywhere. In October, I got hired at a fabric store, and one of the main trainings we went through was Covid regulations. We wore masks at all times, sanitized whenever we got the chance, and could not open the bathrooms for anyone (some customers struggled with that last one). I am pretty thankful for the mask rule. Hiding my face saved me from having to give my “retail smile”, which is hard to put on for eight whole hours.
Retail stores everywhere capitalized heavily on masks; some even sold “mask carrying pouches”, which were literally just extra long sunglass bags. However, Christmas season was where they brought out the big guns. I saw countless Santa, snow man, and reindeer masks that were not very appealing to the eye. I don’t know if it’s just me, but something about seeing someone wear a mask that has a mouth and it not being their own mouth feels pretty eerie to me.
Now, masks are pretty much just as part of society as your house keys. We have to take one everywhere we go, even if we know someone is at the house, and we don’t think we’re gonna go anywhere in public. “Just in case,” we whisper when we grab one before we’re out the door. I don’t really see anyone not wearing one so much anywhere. It’s become second nature to wear one when going to the grocery store, which is a pretty big difference from a year ago when the pandemic first started. The other day, my sister said to me she couldn’t find a mask that matched her outfit.
“Why does it matter,” I asked. “It’s just a mask.”
“Uhh no, masks are fashion statements now,” she said with a gossip girl-esque finger point.
And I did realize she was right. Depending on the person, masks are either just a day-to-day item, or a fine addition to your outfit. Regardless of which one you relate to more, masks are part of our regular life now. And even so, news on mask regulations is still making its way to news. One year ago, the CDC announced how to wear one properly, which ones are most helpful, and how they work. Now, a year later, they recommend to double-mask to stay safe, so it just goes to show how times are still changing.