By: Anusha Bapat
The girl clothed in a graphic tee styled with her perfect set of baggy, black cargo pants stands patiently near the stop sign. She’s wearing a mask screaming “VOTE” in big, bold, cream white letters extending all the way from the top of the mask to the bottom of it. Her confident pose, her expression, and her mask says it all. I think she’s a Democrat. The lady next to her wears a pair of light wash jeans, with a blush pink V-neck sweater. Her mask is different. Her mask has rainbow swirls, tie-dye one might call it, perfectly wrapping the mask together. She looks happy. I can’t see anything below her eyes, but her mask says it all. She is indeed happy.
This pandemic has forced us to look toward a new form of self-expression; a form that we could never have anticipated. These days, masks have been vital as a form of protection from the virus but also as another accessory to style your outfit with. It’s become a “trend” to choose the perfect mask with the perfect outfit. But how do you know what mask to buy? Each and every mask you find in the store is symbolic in its own way. There’s this silent yet mutual understanding among people of what each mask says about you. As humans, we can immediately make out the kind of person someone is based on their means of self expression even if that is just a mask.
During the initial months of this pandemic, masks were only available in two or three colors, those being white, black, and light blue (the ubiquitous disposable masks). Over the course of a few months stores came out with masks filled with all types of patterns, words, colors, and shapes. These masks became more popular in the market than ever before as they became more interesting-looking and personal.
At this point, I don’t have a colorful or patterned mask. I own a simple solid color black mask. To me, black is a color that can go with any outfit during any time of the day. It is a color that is subtle yet sophisticated and draws the perfect amount of attention to my face by spotlighting only certain features of it. I like that this mask offers me some privacy and lets me be just another person in the crowd.
During this pandemic, we as individuals have faced an experience, a new type of life, and were offered a perspective that was completely different from our “ordinary” lives. Masks are, if not the biggest change, then a significant addition to our day to day lives. It’s truly an art that, as people, we have been able to embrace the use of masks, designing them in ways that make our lives a little less gray during these unprecedented times.
A Look Into Masks At North: Senior Maya Mau’s Mask Business
After interviewing designer Maya Mau, she claims to have always been “a pretty crafty person”. She started hand-sewing a year ago but invested in a sewing machine this year, where she began to design her own masks. Initially, she sewed them for herself and gave them as gifts to her friends and family. After she got comfortable with the process she formally decided to start selling these masks and was happy to gain a lot of interested customers from our own school. Maya enjoys sewing a diverse range of masks (including superhero and neutral color masks) for children, teenagers, and adults. Many of Maya’s designs are inspired by the youtuber, Keiko Olson, who also designs and produces masks. She follows Olson’s videos when figuring out the dimensions of the cardstock patterns that she must trace and then cut out. After this she uses a neutral layer to design her inside layer of the mask and uses the actual designed layer on the outside. She sews up all these layers together and adds on the elastics for her customer to adjust the size. Over the summer she spent about four to six hours making masks which fluctuate each day depending on her order size. When it’s time to deliver all these masks Maya bikes alone or with her whole family to all the houses she needs to get to. After collecting a certain amount of profits, she donates the money directly to charity. Maya uses instagram as her prime platform where she takes orders for all her masks. She can be contacted through the account, @maya.makes.masks., as well as via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.