I don’t know many women who enjoy wearing a bra, so I can understand people’s aversions to wear a mask. It’s not fun to have a piece of fabric stuck to your body that you can’t take off until you’re at home.
Masks, like bras, aren’t foolproof, but they help with protection. Masks help protect other people from sickness. Bras help protect other people from getting hit in the face when I need to run past them.
They’re not perfect, but they’ll do until better science comes around.
Wearing a mask has some weird downsides
We all want to talk about all the benefits of wearing masks, but we don’t talk about the downsides. While they’re not going to kill you, there are some things we need to talk about with masks.
Some of these we’re aware of, and some of them never occurred to most of us. These observations are my experiences, and I know some of you noticed them too.
First, some of us stopped wearing our glasses
If I hadn’t lost my glasses months before lockdown started, I wouldn’t bother wearing them now. For those of you with perfect vision, I envy you. Not only do you get to fly planes, but you don’t need to worry about fog.
Right now, glasses-wearers are doing one of four things.
- We’re considering wearing contacts.
- We’re looking for life hacks to keep our glasses from fogging up while walking around the world.
- We’re risking it and going without our glasses.
- Wishing we had the spell from Harry Potter that put mini-windshield wipers on your glasses.
I take route number three and risk it. So far, I haven’t destroyed the world yet. Maybe my vision isn’t as bad as what the eye doctor said!
Speaking of which, maybe it’s time to get around to buying a new pair of glasses.
We have to make more of an effort to watch what we eat
When you have a mask on, there are some things you shouldn’t eat. Why? Because you’re giving your mask two jobs. And frankly, I’m not sure how effective it’ll be protecting others from your onion-breath if you have too many in your five-dollar footlong.
I found this out the hard way after having lunch at Subway with my fiance. Both our subs had more onions than usual, but we still devoured them. They were delicious.
But when we walked in the dollar store afterward, I started smelling something funky. After a few more breaths, I realized it was me! What if the whole store can smell me?
Now, I need to think twice before adding the delicious onions on my sub. I have to consider if I’ll enjoy the smell hours after eating a garlic-ridden pasta on date night.
Is that what I want for myself? As long as I enjoy the smell, I’m okay with it. I’d rather have that than get hit with a hard case of COVID.
And then there’s the hair issue!
This issue hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’ve had other friends tell me about it. If you’re a woman with facial hair, a mask might make your hair grow faster.
It’s not only masks that have that issue. My fiance told me a story of breaking his arm. When the cast came off, he had more hair on the broken arm than on his other arm.
I’m not sure why that is. I try to google the answer, and I get tips for growing my beard. It’s strange. Is it the moisture from wearing the mask? Is it from the heat?
Instead of asking why hair grows under a mask, I decided to ask why hair grows under a cast. I finally found a paper from the Independent explaining why.
A cast gives your skin the right amount of friction to make your hair grow. If some people see the same result on their faces, maybe they’re getting the perfect stimulation for hair growth.
I wouldn’t despair yet. All of these downsides together can help with one of the most fascinating upsides to wearing a mask I’ve seen.
And then, the maskne!
I thought I'd miss it somehow, but I didn't. The famous maskne finally hit me, and it's not a good look. Now, when I go to wax my facial hair, I have to be careful I don't irritate any new blemishes on my face.
For those that don't know yet, maskne is what happens when pimples start showing up on the parts of your face covered by your mask. For me, it's been on the edges of the mask touch my face and rub on it. They're tiny and shallow so far.
But all of it is worth it for the one obscure benefit
Did you know masks are breaking facial recognition technology? The US National Institute of Standards and Technologydid a study, according to The Verge, and found facial recognition software failed up to 50% of the time!
The best results came from wearing black masks that covered as much of your nose as possible. Not only would you be wearing your mask correctly to help prevent disease, but you’re less likely to be recognized.
The NIST’s test was set on one-to-one technology instead of one-to-many. But one-to-many tends to have more errors in it. And the masks used were digitally added to one picture.
The facial recognition industry is trying to create algorithms to overcome this hurdle, so I don’t know how long this upside will last. No algorithm closed the loophole yet.
How can we use all these downsides to make the pandemic easier and the upside better? The benefits outweigh the disadvantages of wearing a mask but think about it this way.
With your glasses fogging up all the time, it’s harder for facial recognition algorithms to recognize you. Even if companies do update their technology, your fogged glasses make it hard to find you.
If your food breath seeps through the mask, you can breathe harder on people who refuse to social distance. And if that doesn’t work, I hope the smelly food makes you gassy, too!
On the day the masks come off, your new beard can make it harder for facial recognition to pick you out in the crowd!
The privacy nut in me is excited about this new upside with masks. And I hope this new information encourages more people to wear one. We’ll see what happens in the coming weeks.