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Why aren’t you wearing a mask? Masks are extremely cool.
Stephanie Hayes | If the health benefits aren't enough, consider looking like an action hero.
A woman wearing a mask walks by a Louis Vuitton store on June 11 in New York's Fifth Avenue shopping district.
A woman wearing a mask walks by a Louis Vuitton store on June 11 in New York's Fifth Avenue shopping district. [ MARK LENNIHAN | AP ]
Published Jun. 18, 2020
Updated Jun. 18, 2020

Masks need a new marketing campaign, because the sciencey one isn’t working. Today, we are going to rebrand masks as a must-have fashion accessory. It worked for trucker hats in 2002.

First, a recap. Record-setting coronavirus is still going around, and mask usage has been hit or miss. On Wednesday, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said they are now required for workers. On Thursday, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced a mandatory indoor mask order.

Even if you believe the rise correlates completely to testing and has nothing to do with body shots in Ybor, masks are a good idea. They are an easy, practical way to reduce risk for everyone.

Say there was a muster of killer peacocks, but we only found out about the killer peacocks because someone started reporting them. You would still go out of your way to avoid the peacocks until the problem was under control. You would not shove friends, neighbors and the elderly into the pit of ravenous birds. Let’s move on from this peacock analogy. I am not sure I like it.

A series of questions: What is the big deal about wearing a mask within gleeking distance of another person? Why have masks been politically weaponized? Why does everything have to be this way? What is next? Is this lunch sandwich a fascist symbol when I thought it was just bread and fillings?

Related: Millennials, let's skip brunch a while longer

Things being what they are, here is the new plan. We’re no longer going to say that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a mask if you are older than 2 and can breathe on your own. We will not cite the study from peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet, which found the risk of spreading COVID-19 to be 17.4% without preventative measures, and 3.1% with masks. We will no longer tout masks as a small display of personal responsibility.

Instead, we will point out that masks are extremely cool.

Previously, it was socially acceptable in America to wear a mask if you were Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees or a dental hygienist. Now, everyone gets to wear one.

Have you been to the supermarket in a baseball cap, mask and glasses? Wandering the aisles with only a sliver of your face showing is exhilarating. A great thing to do is pretend you are Keri Russell in The Americans, deciding how to drop a coded message about Soviet bioweapons in the premium cheese case.

Many exciting fictional heroes and villains have worn masks. Cobra Troopers from G.I. Joe, Darth Vader, Spider-man, Lady Kitana from Mortal Kombat, Hannibal Lecter, Sister Night from Watchmen. Oh, and Batman’s foil, Bane. Wear your mask to lunch and see how many times you can say “I’m Bane” in the Tom Hardy voice before your family chooses to social distance.

Tom Hardy as Bane in a scene from "The Dark Knight Rises."
Tom Hardy as Bane in a scene from "The Dark Knight Rises." [ (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, Ron Phillips) ]

Masks come in a variety of colors and themes, including Star Wars, Disney and N95 respirator. You can make them at home. There are face masks with windows to help deaf and hard-of-hearing people read lips.

Masks eliminate the need for superfluous conversation. They allow us to breeze by others and reach our destination faster, like Beyoncé being escorted to a Town Car. Masks are elite. Supermodel Naomi Campbell wore a full hazmat suit, gloves, goggles and a mask on a flight. I’m sorry, but she is cool!

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On the move...

A post shared by Naomi Campbell (@naomi) on

Masks aren’t forever, just like low-rise jeans weren’t forever. If we can get through this, we’ll be back to accidentally spitting on each other, exhaustively smiling, talking, heavy breathing and more mouth-forward activities before we know it. Come to think of it, we just may miss the masks.

Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes

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