- Celebrities and influencers are joining the #MaskingForAFriend campaign to encourage wearing masks to protect others.
- Other countries have been embracing face masks in public for several years.
- Just like sunglasses and hats evolved from sun protection to fashion accessories, masks may do the same.
It started with Eve donning a black mask against a backdrop of wisteria flowers, hashtagging her efforts #MaskingForAFriend. Sophia Bush, Matt McGorry, and Mayim Bialik soon followed, with others quickly joining the cause launched by the Pandemic Action Network.
The goal? To spread accurate information about the benefits of masking, particularly for those around us. Because masking isn’t about protecting ourselves; it’s about protecting our loved ones and the loved ones of others.
Of course, the campaign has had the added bonus of celebrities normalizing the act of wearing a face mask and proving that doing so can even be trendy.
But could it become something more here in the United States?
In many Asian countries, wearing a face mask in public has been a cultural norm long before COVID-19.
Industrial and organizational psychologist Lana Ivanitskaya, a professor at Central Michigan University, says the embracing of face masks in those areas came about for several reasons.
“First, there was rapid industrialization that led to bad air quality,” she explained. “Then, of course, there were recent diseases that disproportionately impacted those areas of the world. I’m thinking of SARS specifically.”
Ivanitskaya, who has been working hard to normalize mask wearing, and who has enlisted the help of Amish and Mennonite communities in making masks to distribute across the country, says these experiences shifted the cultural mindset toward respiratory protection.
She added, “I’m confident that cultural factors, such as collectivism and understanding of other people’s needs, has also played a role.”
There’s been a lot of confusion surrounding the benefits of using masks in the battle against COVID-19, and even the U.S. government has sent conflicting messages.
But now, thanks to evolving science and a better understanding of exactly whom masks protect, most health officials seem to finally be on the same page.
“CDCTrusted Source recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting,” said Dr. Mike BellTrusted Source, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. “This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms by blocking your respiratory droplets.”
Bell has been working to provide the necessary medical perspective for the #MaskingForAFriend campaign, explaining that masking for others is what scientists and medical experts refer to as source control.
“If everyone does this, the amount of infection being spread in our communities can be greatly reduced,” he said.