As masks come off and humanity overcomes COVID-19, anxiety sets in for some people, especially teens. The reason? They've been using masks to hide their insecurities.
The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou
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Masks have allowed some people to hide their anxiety symptoms, emotions, and feelings of discomfort about their physical appearance in general. However, now that COVID-19 regulations are getting less strict every day, many fear stepping out of that comfort zone that masks have brought them. The pandemic years have been tough for people who feel this way, especially teenagers.
Some people feel the need to hide their faces and feel more comfortable interacting with others this way. Nevertheless, this has also aligned with another phenomenon: mask fishing. Urban Dictionary defines it as: "The phenomenon where a person appears to be more attractive because they are wearing a face mask." The term is inspired by the word catfishing. Through this activity, a person creates a fictional persona, a very distorted version of themselves, or a fake identity on social networks to flirt or fool others.
Masks provide a certain degree of relief via anonymity that has helped those who feel the need to hide their faces. However, this tool to hide their insecurities, such as a nose they are not proud of, teeth, acne, or any other feature they dislike about themselves, could be harmful in the long road. Understanding what these people are going through emotionally it's vital for their loved ones.
According to The New York Times, many teens have mixed feelings about the mask mandate ending in schools across the US. Some feel peer pressure to cover their faces and get anxious, only thinking about their physical appearance. Parents should accompany teens through this process and help them cultivate self-love and self-confidence.
Taking off masks also represents a social transition in which we got used to imagining people's faces below their eyes. Our brain would complete the picture, and we would get an idea of what that person would really look like. However, for people who have known each other in closed spaces where masks were mandatory, the shock and unfamiliarity of seeing the other person's entire face for the first time is still an issue. We were even forced to adapt to new ways of communication and not to be entirely dependent on non-verbal communication.
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When someone you don't know gets their mask off, it's a new person you're looking at. And they are more likely not to be as you imagined them. It's always going to be something you don't expect. Consequently, some people feel vulnerable and exposed, showing their bare faces.
As Paula magazine remarks, masks coming off is an invitation to reflect on society's impossible beauty standards and high expectations about people's physical appearance. While the pandemic forced us to be more virtually connected than ever, it also bombarded us with filters and applications that modified our appearance to help us look "perfect." This is an excellent opportunity to challenge those distortions of reality and accept one another as we are.