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From images of beloved characters to colorful patterns that complement outfits, people have started sporting stylish face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Getty Images
  • Celebrities and influencers are joining the #MaskingForAFriend campaign to encourage wearing masks to protect others.
  • Other countries have been embracing face masks in public for several years.
  • Just like sunglasses and hats evolved from sun protection to fashion accessories, masks may do the same.

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体育投注网址It started with donning a black mask against a backdrop of wisteria flowers, hashtagging her efforts #MaskingForAFriend. , , and soon followed, with others quickly joining the cause launched by the .

The goal? To spread accurate information about the benefits of masking, particularly for those around us. Because masking isn’t about protecting ourselves; it’s about protecting our loved ones and the loved ones of others.

Of course, the campaign has had the added bonus of celebrities normalizing the act of wearing a face mask and proving that doing so can even be trendy.

体育投注网址But could it become something more here in the United States?

体育投注网址In many Asian countries, wearing a face mask in public has been a cultural norm long before COVID-19.

Industrial and organizational psychologist , a professor at Central Michigan University, says the embracing of face masks in those areas came about for several reasons.

“First, there was rapid industrialization that led to bad air quality,” she explained. “Then, of course, there were recent diseases that disproportionately impacted those areas of the world. I’m thinking of SARS specifically.”

体育投注网址Ivanitskaya, who has been working hard to normalize mask wearing, and who has of Amish and Mennonite communities in making masks to distribute across the country, says these experiences shifted the cultural mindset toward respiratory protection.

She added, “I’m confident that cultural factors, such as collectivism and understanding of other people’s needs, has also played a role.”

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But now, thanks to evolving science and a better understanding of exactly whom masks protect, most health officials seem to finally be on the same page.

recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting,” said 体育投注网址, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. “This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms by blocking your respiratory droplets.”

体育投注网址Bell has been working to provide the necessary medical perspective for the #MaskingForAFriend campaign, explaining that masking for others is what scientists and medical experts refer to as source control.

“If everyone does this, the amount of infection being spread in our communities can be greatly reduced,” he said.

, chief of hospital medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said, “Masks can protect against any infectious illness that may be spread by droplets. For example, the flu, pertussis (whooping cough), or pneumonia.”

Bell agrees, adding that wearing a cloth mask has benefits beyond slowing the spread of COVID-19, and that source control can reduce the transmission of many other easily spread respiratory infections — the kind that typically render people infectious even before they display symptoms, like influenza.

“Some international reports have noted a lower impact of flu related to the uptake of measures to prevent COVID-19,” Bell said.

体育投注网址But that doesn’t necessarily mean masks are for everyone.

体育投注网址“Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance,” Bell explained.

regarding best practices for sewing washable face masks, for those interested in achieving the balance between comfort and protection.

体育投注网址“It’s a very real issue,” Ivanitskaya said. “I’m with a group of researchers who have been developing mask construction advice, and we are suggesting materials and mask designs. One of the masks we made that seemed very reasonable, I pretested on myself, wearing the mask uphill as I rode my bike.”

But the same mask Ivanitskaya was able to wear without issue turned out to be impossible for her 88-year-old neighbor to keep on.

体育投注网址In fact, he told her he was choking inside of it. After another older neighbor reported the same experience, Ivanitskaya turned to the research and discovered evidence of diminished lung capacity among older adults.

That was when she started experimenting with finding the sweet spot between protection and tolerability for those who may not be able to breathe as easily from behind a mask.

体育投注网址What she discovered is that different people have different levels of tolerability when it comes to mask wear — and factors like outside temperatures, whether the wearer also uses glasses, and even nose size can all play a role.

Finding a mask you can comfortably keep on should be the ultimate goal, even if it doesn’t provide exactly the same level of protection as someone who may be able to tolerate more layers and a tighter seal.

But it’s not just improving comfort that face mask designers are now focusing on. Many are also trying to create masks people actually want to wear — masks others might find as an aesthetically pleasing and fun way to accessorize.

If you think that sounds crazy, just remember: Sunglasses and hats once started out as items meant to simply protect the wearer from the sun.

体育投注网址They’ve now evolved into fashion accessories providing countless options to choose from.

“Many businesses, small and large, have taken the opportunity to make and sell cloth face covers. A wide variety of styles and designs are already available,” Bell said. “We’re already seeing a lot of people not only wearing cloth face coverings, but making a design or fashion statement with their choice of cover.”

Whether it’s the design you choose or the way you fasten your mask to your face (with a popular debate now ensuing over whether ear loops or clasps behind the head are better), you have an opportunity to make a statement with the mask you wear — and protect others in style.