Second hand masks

How do we try to control how others see us?

Halloween is over

And the masks remain

I know a thing or two about masks.

I used to make them. What’s more, I used to teach with them. I helped young people imagine and enact new ways of being in the world and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

In a lot of ways, that’s still my job.

This time of year, I see masks everywhere. They’re not just on the sale rack at Value Village. They’re not simply there to prevent COVID transmissions.

I’m noticing the masks that we wear unaware of the fact that they’re on.

We put them on every day. Glasses, make-up and the clothes we choose are the masks and trappings of the role of the character that we bring into the world.

Authentic? It’s an authentic device to keep us safe as we come into contact with others. 


These are things we do to change and control how others perceive us.

When we want to be seen as open and understanding, we hold and contort our face in a ‘mask’ of this. We hide our hostility, doubt and fear behind an outward expression of ‘Trust me.’

Others still stay safe with a frowning visage of seriousness. It’s as though their furrowed brow says to the world, ‘I’ve got this. I have control. Don’t question. Don’t put this off balance.’

Look around you. What masks do you see daily? 

Can you find people with eyes that seem lost? What do these lost eyes hide?

Have you seen anyone with a mask of happiness that only hides anger, bitterness, sadness and aggression? 

What masks do you see in social media filters? What are people hiding as they control how people see them?

What mask do you wear?

What masks no longer fit?

And finally, what masks do you wish were back on the sale rack at the second hand costume shop?