Mask On, Mask Off

It’s the last day of June, and the world seems to be transitioning into a post-pandemic way of life – just in time for the summer. Major cities are reopening, the CDC has loosened mask-wearing guidelines for those fully vaccinated, and everyone is jumping at the chance to resume regular activities again.

While some of us have grown comfortable in our quarantine bubbles, many have struggled with isolation and staying indoors for so long. We have all been waiting to get the greenlight to return to some kind of “normalcy” in our everyday lives, but I have to admit that it does feel weird to step outside without a mask on, to see other people’s actual faces on display, to be in a crowded area indoors. It’s strange to think that we will no longer have to worry about forgetting to bring a mask while going out because it will eventually no longer be required.

Although I am fully vaccinated (and encourage everyone to get vaccinated), I still wear a mask in public – and it’s not just me. I often see a majority of people continue to wear masks in establishments that have loosened their policies. Perhaps they, like me, have grown accustomed to wearing these masks as a veil of safety, and not just from COVID-19 but from everyday problems.

There have been times where I felt relieved that I had to wear a mask because it hid my features and prevented others from identifying me as Asian American. The increase in violence among the Asian American community has truly caused me to worry about my safety in public, especially when travelling alone, and I am honestly scared to stop wearing my mask. Early on in the pandemic, I also thought masks would prevent the nuisance of getting catcalled, but even being faceless can’t stop objectification.

Needless to say, while there has been a steady decline in the amount of COVID-19 cases in the US, there are still several variants of the disease that we need to be cautious of to prevent its spread. Think about what you can do to promote public health and be smart about how you spend your summer this year. Who knows how long it will last?

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