Thursday, October 7, 2021
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Mask-wearing can be liberating for women

Whether you choose to wear a mask (to lower your Covid-19 risk) is a contentious subject in 2020. I am in the fifth month of wearing mine to school pick up, the shops, and my son’s soccer match.

Notwithstanding the foggy glasses, weird breathing through three layers, claustrophobia and other valid reasons people find mask-wearing difficult, I am finding something interesting has happened.

I feel less of a need to smile at random people.

I clearly remember working at a pub when I was 18 and a customer came up to me and said, “You should smile more, you look miserable”. In truth I was simply staring out of the window, thinking about my dinner, but somehow that meant, to a totally random man, that I was miserable. I can’t tell you how many times he came into the pub after that to see me standing there like a mannequin, smiling gormlessly out of the window in a frozen mid-run pose, speaking through my deranged teeth, “Iss diss better?”

Women have been told to smile more for a gazillion years but in 2020 it’s different. My mouth is covered for 90 per cent of the time I’m in the company of strangers and suddenly, and quite inexplicably, I feel, well, free.

I’m no longer burdened with the unexplainable need to smile at anyone I walk past – and, after months of feeling like this, these social exchanges somehow seem easier, less exhausting. There is less (whether perceived or not) expectation of me to behave a certain way. Social norms have been thrown out and we all have to start again. Working on our communication is never a bad thing and perhaps this fresh beginning is exactly what we need to review how and why we speak to others.

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Women Dead in 2020 so far: 37

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