Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, masks double as a piece of personal protective equipment as well as an accessory to everyday fashion. Some people said they find adding personal flair into their mask helps bring normalcy to an abnormal time.
Spencer Potter, a Westminster theatre professor, said wearing the Westminster logo mask is a great way to create a sense of community.
“Even if it’s just choosing a black mask or a white mask, a mask with ear loops, masks with all-the-way head loops, you feel a little bit in control,” Potter said. “Anytime we get dressed we make choices and it gives us a sense of autonomy.”
Customizing a mask shows acceptance of the fact that masks are with us as a fact of life right now, according to Potter. He said that making the process of wearing them enjoyable is a small way to feel like there’s some control within the chaos.
The way students personalize their masks can serve not only as a fun finishing touch, but a statement to others about their personality, according to Maddie Elledge, a senior theatre major.
“Usually when I see someone wearing a mask with fun patterns, I think it’s really cool because you can’t see their faces but you can kind of see their personality through a mask,” Elledge said.
Elledge said at the beginning of the pandemic, she didn’t customize her masks as much and was just focused on being safe. Now that masks are more “normal,” she said she finds herself picking out an outfit and finding a mask that will go with it through matching patterns or colors.
“Usually I pick something that’s comfortable and I know will protect me, but also is very versatile or will match whatever outfit I’m wearing for the day,” Elledge said.
Elledge said she noticed a lot of masks with famous art pieces on them and masks in different colors, such as pastels, at Westminster College.
With the most recent Westminster College COVID-19 protocols, the campus community is being asked to upgrade their masks to KN95 or N95, or make sure cloth masks are multi-layered with an insert, according to the Covid updates webpage.
Maddie Brown, a junior psychology major, said in an email she noticed a lot of Cotopaxi, an outdoor gear brand and colorful disposable masks around campus last semester, but not as much this semester.
“Now I am seeing mostly KN95s around campus. It seems like at this point students are more concerned with their safety than the fashion of their masks,” Brown said.
Brown said after feeling burnt out from the mask mandates, it’s easier to find what is safe than what is fashionable for her.
“I notice when someone has a fashionable or statement mask on, but I don’t tend to notice or judge someone if they have a plain or disposable mask on,” Brown said. “I can appreciate an outfit with a matching mask as a finishing touch, but I don’t think less of anyone that doesn’t do that.”