Unmasked

Words by Alicia Woodward

Donning a face mask in public has become second nature now. At first, I double-checked that I put it on correctly. I didn’t want to be naive by accidentally putting one elastic ear band over my head while the other dangled below my chin in an epic fail. Most of us now wear our masks like a pro.

Then again, most of us have had lots of practice wearing masks of another kind.

Masks I’ve worn include: the good girl, dutiful daughter, and martyr mom. My mask said patient when I was frustrated. All too often the mask I wore said yes, when I should have said “No, thank you.”

Author Rick Warren wrote, “Wearing a mask wears you out. Faking it is fatiguing. The most exhausting activity is pretending to be what you know you aren’t.”

As a young woman, I learned to put on another mask in the form of make-up. For most of my life, I rarely left the house without wearing six types of cosmetics. I came to view wearing make-up as something classy women must do to cover-up perceived flaws and present a perfect face.

Then there is the full-body mask I wore in the name of fashion. Uncomfortable shoes and undergarments. Unnecessary bells and whistles. Impractical fabrics. Unaffordable trends. All in an attempt to say something about myself through what I wore on the outside instead of who I was on the inside.

I knew it wouldn’t be long before designer face masks were in vogue. Louis Vuitton face masks are already sold out. Marc Jacobs has a $100.00 mask available. Givenchy sells one for $590.00.

Yes, you read that right. As George Brown sang, “We’re lost in a masquerade.”

The face masks we are asked to wear now are not meant to make a statement or hide behind. They serve a practical purpose—to protect ourselves and others from Covid-19. They aren’t cute or comfortable, but they are necessary for the time being.

I wear a simple medical-grade mask bought in bulk. It certainly clashes with whatever I might be wearing. Any make-up I have on is unseen. When I put one on, I notice my body language becomes more important. I move in a more intentional way, my word choice and tone, though muffled, becomes more precise. Since nobody can see my expression, I communicate with my eyes, the windows to the soul.

I’ve spent much of my life masquerading as one thing or another. Yet now, under the stage of stillness of a pandemic, and, ironically, the covering of a face mask, I’m becoming more and more comfortable with being myself.

Unapologetic. Unadorned. Uncovered. Unmasked.

Alicia Woodward

Alicia is a retired teacher, an empty-nester, and a writer. She is an optimist who tries to keep life as simple and joyful as possible. She has degrees in journalism and secondary English education and taught middle school literature and language arts for 28 years. Along the way, she worked at several newspapers as a copywriter, reporter, and columnist. She co-authored the book Lessons in Loveliness with a dear co-worker with whom she wrote a blog by the same name. She and her husband, Mike, live a simple life on a quiet lake in Brown County, Indiana. They have four grown children and a six-year-old grandson. When they aren’t enjoying family or nature, Mike is cooking something spicy while Alicia is writing something cheery.

Website
thesimpleswan.com
Twitter
@simpleswan1

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