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It will be difficult to pinpoint any events in 2020 more striking than the first wave of COVID-19 spreading across the world. Life has changed in a lot of ways, and some things will never go back to the way that they were. In some cases, that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. The world, or a larger part of it, is starting to catch on to something that countries like Japan have had figured out for a while: masks are sort of the best thing ever.

The obvious reason why is that they protect us and our loved ones from sickness, and the more people wearing them, the more people are protected. They aren’t a full fix, they aren’t foolproof, but it’s one of the most effective ways that we can be safe when we’re out in our communities. 

But safety is just one of the perks of mask-wearing. Masks are also an amazing way to express yourself. Can’t afford an expensive patterned mask? Grab some scrap fabric and sew your own, or buy a cheap mask and bedazzle it! The possibilities are endless. 

They’re also an excellent defence against social interaction when you aren’t in the mood for it. No more worrying about smiling at someone as they pass you on the street, or having someone comment on your RBF. A polite nod will do, or a crinkle of the eyes. 

Masks are also badass. You put one on and you’re instantly surrounded by a sort of edgy mystique (even if your mask is bright floral-patterned or Hello Kitty-themed.) You’re no longer a tired college student, you’re a masked vigilante or you’re roaming a dusty dystopian wasteland. You are the main character. 

Of course, masks have their downsides. People who already have trouble reading physical cues might struggle with social interaction because of the limitations a mask creates by hiding the face. Those who rely on lip-reading or are HOH are also affected. We’ll need to find solutions to these problems as a society, by creating more masks that allow the full face to be seen, as well as by making things like sign language an accessible and mandatory class in schools. 

But as a whole, destroying the stigma around mask-wearing and making it a normal thing to do when you’re ill is something that should have happened a long time ago in North America. Hopefully, we’ll come out of this tragic period in history a safer and healthier world than before. 

PS: If you don’t wear a mask when you go out, that's rude. You’re not being a team player. All you’re doing is putting your community in danger. Full stop. 

Emma is a first-year graduate student at the University of Victoria. She's a pop-culture-obsessed filmmaker and aspiring video game designer. When she isn't writing for Her Campus or burning her eyes from staring at a screenplay that just isn't working, she's probably at home playing video games, watching movies (it's technically homework, she's studying them) or mindlessly scrolling through her TikTok feed.
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