The face mask was never seen as an essential in our daily wear unless you were from the medical profession or perhaps a criminal or protester trying to hide your identity.
The face mask, to me, was more of an annual affair, during the haze season which normally hits Malaysia once a year.
But 2020 changed all that.
With the surge in Covid-19 cases and evidence that the virus is transmitted through droplets, refusing to wear one is increasingly becoming a social no-no.
The face mask trend started with the white or blue disposable masks which were so highly in demand when Covid-19 hit Malaysia.
It gradually moved to those with cartoon prints for kids, plain fabric to funny motif or colourful ones, to favourite football club and batik designs.
Now, even designers are jumping on the bandwagon by making the face mask a designer wear with ‘bling-bling’ on them.
Earlier this year, Billy Eilish appeared at the Grammy Awards in fluorescent green-and-black Gucci from head to toe, including the designer face mask when the coronavirus was making its way round the globe.
Yes, the face mask has taken the world by storm and the public are advised to don one when going out as a precautionary measure.
It is becoming part of our wardrobe, just like the we wear when we go out.
While face masks are not a fashion accessory, they do take up a fair amount of space on our face. Hence, it would be nice to wear aesthetically pleasing ones.
Besides big designer houses, home labels too are producing their own face masks to capitalise on the trend, including homemakers who have the skill to sew.
I came across a local social enterprise, Tanoti House, which even produces rattan face masks.
Tanoti House has been helping the Penan in Sarawak by encouraging their skilled women to weave rattan products, which are then promoted to the world market.
Most reusable face masks, if made from the right material and fit properly, would be a cheaper option than the disposable ones as long as they are washed frequently.
Yet, many find it hard to don the face mask.
With many countries experiencing the second wave, we still have anti-maskers who feel it is an infringement of their rights to wear the masks.
The government had on July 23 announced that the use of face masks in public places will be compulsory from Aug 1.
But please do not wait until Aug 1 to put on the mask.
It can be hot and uncomfortable for some, but what’s a little discomfort if it could potentially prevent someone from getting sick and dying?
Besides, human beings are known to adapt to surroundings and wearing a face mask will be here to stay for a long time.
So, don’t be a Karen, just wear a face mask for your safety and for the safety of others.
We should all remain vigilant particularly during the second wave of Covid-19.
The battle is not over and we should arm ourselves with tools in fighting the virus. Practise social distancing, remember to wash our hands and don’t forget to mask up.
Let’s learn to smile with our eyes.
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.