The Pandemic Can GTFO— But My Mask Is Staying

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 
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March 13: the last day we left the house. On March 20th, 2020, I drove to my pharmacy for the first time since the pandemic started. I wore a mask with a buff over it (extra protection). I’ve been wearing a mask, sometimes double-masking with a KN95 and a cloth mask, or a cloth mask and a buff, for a year now. My glasses fog up sometimes. Once in a while, I can’t wait to get the damn thing off. But I’ve decided that overall, I love my mask.

Think about a normal trip to Target. Think about coughing toddlers and snotty people and just… humans. Humans in all their grossness. Think about them exhaling particulate matter into the air around them. Think about inhaling that particulate matter into your own lungs, especially during cold and flu season. Think about words like “secretion” and “moist” and “droplet.”

I love my mask so much that when the COVID-19 pandemic finally ends, I may not give it up.

Makeup Just Got So Much Easier

My nine-year-old yelled at me a few days ago while I was doing my makeup for a trip. “Mama, why are you bothering?” He huffed. “It’s not like anyone will see it.”

Well fuck your Yankee blue jeans, kid, but I like makeup, so I’ll put it on if I want to. I don’t care if my mask obscures it.

But my rugrat has a point. Lipstick? Why bother? People might see some blush. And if I’m going somewhere indoors, they’ll see my eyes over my mask. Luckily I do a killer smoky eye and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize to keep those fine lines away. But sweet baby Jesus in the manger, that mask comes so high it usually covers the very worst of my dark circles. I have found the solution to dark circles, and it is a cloth facial covering.

Or I can get lazy and slap on my Jackie O sunglasses. I am glamorous. I am mysterious. I am a Hollywood star hiding her identity. I could be Paris Hilton or Betty White behind that combo, and no one can tell the difference. Then I really don’t have to wear makeup.

I wear full-face every morning because I want to. But if I didn’t feel like it, my mask gives me options.

My Mask Stops Viruses That Aren’t COVID-19

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Did you know we’ve had a historically low flu season in 2020-2021? William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt, told TODAY that the flu was at “record-setting lows.” Yes, hand washing, social distancing, and people staying home if they’re symptomatic has played a role. But influenza spreads through respiratory droplets, just like COVID-19. My mask may be saving me (and many others) from the flu.

Shoot me up then shove a mask on my face. I’m never getting the flu again.

I haven’t had a cold all winter. I’ve definitely gone out less than usual. I’ve definitely sanitized and washed my hands more than usual, and that’s not going to change. I’ll be the Crazy Hand Sanitizer Lady forever: that woman who collects different-scented bottles like Ash capturing Pokemon. But while my many-scented hand sanitizers will help, my mask is what will stop most of the ick from coming into my lungs.

Really, it boils down to one thing: I don’t want to breathe your nasty-ass air. I don’t know if I can go back to casually breathing grocery store air. My mask will stop the worst of people’s droplets and secretions. Bonus: I can buy masks in multiple colors to match my outfits.

Okay, So I Won’t Wear My Mask All The Time

Once the pandemic is over and done with, I’ll wear my mask almost every time I leave my house. But I probably won’t mask up for the Starbucks drive-thru anymore. Possibly. Who knows what virus that barista is incubating?

But I’m not turning Howard Hughes with Kleenex boxes on my feet. Casual meet-up with friends at the pool, in the summer, outside? Ditch my mask. Winter meet-up inside? Eh, I might keep my mask on unless I’m drinking coffee. I’ll certainly wear it every time I leave my house during cold and flu season. I won’t wear one on hikes, though I’d probably yank one on when I ran into the gas station beforehand.

So I’ll need plenty of setting spray for my makeup, which tends to smear around the nose area. It’ll be a small price to pay.

My kids will probably be wearing masks right along with me. They don’t need to breathe grocery store air either, because how useful is my mask when they inhale someone’s cold or flu virus? Then they just cart those germs on home, and I end up sneezing and hacking when they do. No thanks.

So when the pandemic ends, I’m not putting away my mask. I’ll keep wearing it indoors and during cold and flu season. COVID-19 made me a lot of crazy, and some of that crazy means that I don’t want your respiratory droplets. It also made me want to go to Target looking like a ninja.

Say goodbye to my lower face.

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