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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Geneseo chapter.

Before COVID-19, I had body image issues. In fact, my first ever Her Campus article was about embracing my tummy. But after a year of wearing masks in public, I seemed to have developed a new insecurity: the way the bottom half of my face looks.

Some days I will look at myself in the mirror and hate what I see — full cheeks, a less defined chin and my big nose. When I imagine outfits, I automatically see a mask too. When I take off my mask in the break room at work to eat a snack during my 15, I feel self-conscious about who will see me without my mask on. Granted, a lot of that may just be from being in a global pandemic for this long, but it’s also out of a developing aversion to looking at my face without a mask. 

For years before 2020, the only thing I was self-conscious of on my face was my nose, but I had grown to accept that it made me unique. But now, I will scrutinize everything that is covered by the mask. My personal theory is that because I haven’t been physically looking at my face without a mask in so long, I’ve grown unaccustomed to seeing it bare. Not wearing a mask is like forgetting to wear a shirt at this point, and that might be why seeing myself without a mask just feels so… wrong.

So how do I work to love my face again? It sounds really cheesy, but one of the first things I want to start doing is looking in a mirror and saying “ah, yes, that is a face.” No picking apart the things that make me uncomfortable, no saying that I hate myself or I look ugly. Typically the suggestion to combat body negativity is to go straight to body positivity, but that is a really big jump to make for me, personally. Neutrality might be a better goal to aim for in the short term.

I haven’t seen anyone else talk about this yet, but I have a feeling that I’m not alone. This article is for all of us.

Margaux (they/them) is a senior Women and Gender Studies major at SUNY Geneseo. Outside of Her Campus, they work at Geneseo's Office of Diversity and Equity, is on the executive board of Pride Alliance, and is an active Safe Zone trainer. They love to write about diversity, mental health, and environmentalism, with the occasional goofy topic or two (or five). Margaux hopes to someday be the coolest gender studies professor you will ever have.