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The Problem with Designer Face Masks

DesignermaskBy Todd Edelman

The City of Davis and many other local government entities are distributing masks for "free". While there have been some shortages and limited availability of masks for children, a big problem is counties and cities have different recommendations about use, e.g. because of risks of carbon dioxide build up for some, that some will fit poorly, but most often that the priority should be staying indoors - i.e. that masks should only be used if one HAS to go out.

There are these designer masks available. As far as I can tell this type became very popular due to the chronic air pollution in, e.g., Beijing. People there are wearing masks every day, and want to show off and also de-medicalize the issue via its most obvious sartorial component. (3M, after all, makes workplace safety equipment, and I joked earlier that thanks to child labor laws they make no masks for small faces - by the way I recommend their slightly upgraded N95 with the valve for Co2 exhaust....).

Anyway, the problem here is that these fashion masks - just like any masks that look like proletariat undergarments - encourage people to be outside, who should not be... they are a palliative for a much bigger structural problem, of course also here in California during latest and greatest wildfire fallout disaster.


Roberta L. Millstein

I think you hit the nail on the head with this, Todd. The more utilitarian masks are freaky looking. And we should be freaked out -- freaked out enough to do something about climate change and the way that we lived on this planet. These designer makes make it all seem way too normal. We should not accept poor air quality as normal.

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