Do masks have to be fashion accessories?

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Liana Satenstein: To Steff’s point: this story we did about the photographer photographing people’s masks in Brooklyn, it makes sense to wear one that has personality and is self-expression and feels positive. It’s more welcoming even if you can’t see a person’s emotions. I think doing it yourself is fine. But we have to ask ourselves the question: how are they made? What are the conditions of their manufacture (in general and during COVID?).

Emilie Farra: Okay, I think Steff’s point was more about the slippery slope of the masks becoming the new status symbol i.e. designer masks or logo masks (at Liana’s point) not just l idea that the masks are cute.

Steff Yotka: OK. I asked for a special cast when I broke my wrist! (All black of course.) Self-expression is so important to mental health and self-esteem – and we need it so much right now. But I think a flex shows a designer mask as a status symbol or a luxury item.

Chioma Nnadi: I guess that doesn’t offend me as much as the lack of a mask.

Steff Yotka: No mask is the worst supreme. Even though the commodification and capitalization of a health item seems to me like murky ethical territory, I would still support a supreme mask as it takes you away from that supreme coffin.

Sarah Spellings: But to get to Liana’s point, there have been reports of sweatshop-made PPE, which is rampant in the fashion industry at all levels, but looks particularly bad for PPE.

Emilie Farra: Yes, I also thought about making these masks! On the one hand, many of these factories have had massive order cancellations, so new orders for masks could help people stay employed. But I think that the fact that these masks are functional and necessary has led people to buy them quickly, perhaps without thinking of what they are made of or who made them as we would with a “fashion buy” typical.

If masks are to be our new accessory (which it certainly seems to be), we have to treat them like any other fashion purchase – something we want to wear, made by a company we want to support. It’s the same conversation as conscious / conscious consumption.

Rickie De Sole: It’s a rare time when everyone in America is focused on one singular element – it’s only natural that we all accept it differently. But in the end, wear a mask!


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