• Lily Hoagland

A Guide to Expression While Wearing a Face Mask


Art by Geena San Diego

Now that almost everyone is wearing a face mask in public, it has become much harder to emote. When a stranger smiles at you from a safe six feet away there is seemingly no way to reciprocate the gesture from behind your mask. Now, yes, you could simply wave a friendly hand, or nod your head, but many of these strategies could be easily misconstrued. What if the person thinks you are swatting away a nearby bee, or trying to get a crick out of your neck? Avoiding the situation altogether and merely doing nothing will obviously cause the passerby to think you are incredibly rude. Though they may not T.P. your house in an effort to preserve their stash, you better believe there will be some retaliation.


Instead, remember that the eyes are the window to the soul. Even more so are the eyebrows. One of my personal favorite techniques to indicate how you are feeling is replicating great works of art– with your brows.


For instance, if you are surprised by something, try and embody Edvard Munch’s The Scream. As long as the person you are trying to communicate with is familiar with Norwegian expressionist paintings from the late 1800s, they should have absolutely no difficulty understanding that the slight lift in your brows is meant to express the shock displayed in The Scream.


And if you happen to be an extreme distance away from someone, don’t fear, your arms are here! Act out what you want to denote with your arms– cheerleader style. High kicks and jazz hands are preferred to really get your point across. This is ideal for those awkward “across-the-street eye contact” interactions. No longer will you have to uneasily wave at the jogger standing at the crosswalk to show your acknowledgment. Just bust out an impromptu routine and you will be all set.


Or, you could express yourself through America’s favorite pastime: food. As we all know, different fruits and vegetables signify different emotions. Avocados are happy, grapefruits are sad, yadda yadda yadda. In preparation for half of your face being barricaded, make sure to always carry around a satchel filled with fresh produce. Holding up the corresponding legume or berry to your current sentiment will let everyone know exactly how you are feeling. And I know what you’re going to say, isn’t it wasteful to designate food for emotional expression during these trying times? No, Brenda, absolutely not. We all have to make sacrifices.


Anyways, get out there and...wait no...stay inside there and the next time you have to go out and wear a face mask; make sure to put your best, partially obstructed face, forward.


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