NEW DIRECTIVES

How masks are redefining the art of the face

The face is crucial for human identity, and emotions such as sadness and happiness.

In Summary

• To easily remember people when we meet, we look at their faces.

• It is now a bit hard to recognise people with the mouth and nose covered.

The human face is to a person what the gate is to a palace.

Faces come in different styles, forms, fashion and elements. Gates, too, come in various designs, class, fanciness and poshness. Some faces are inviting while others are gloomy. You can generally make an opinion about someone based on their facial looks.

However, with the new directive that everyone must wear a mask in a bit to curb the spread of coronavirus, the art of the face is changing. 

The recommended mask covers one's mouth and nose, effectively masking more than half of one’s face. This effectively alters the facial look of a person.

Wikipedia defines face as: ‘The front of a person’s head that features three of the head's sense organs, the eyes, nose, and mouth, and through which humans express many of their emotions.’

The face is crucial for human identity, and emotions such as sadness and happiness.

To easily remember people when we meet, we look at their faces. It is now a bit hard to recognise people with the mouth and nose covered. Eyes alone are not enough to recognise someone. You can easily pass someone you know unless you take a second and closer look. 

We are used to seeing people in masks in movies portrayed as criminals/terrorists or security agents.

 The former had made people develop phobia because of the stigma associated with terrorists.

Apart from the biological functions of the mouth, it has other social functionalities that are now impeded by the mask. The covering of the mouth now makes it impossible to smile at people. A smile is a welcoming gesture that helps strangers strike a rapport. It is a friendly exchange of warmth. Smiling is universally considered to be a way to display joy. It can communicate our internal world to people on the outside, and it can be a welcoming sign to new people.

The epitome of the beauty of a woman, some say, is the face. Our womenfolk have been greatly inconvenienced by the face mask because they may not wear lipstick any time soon. Wearing lipstick enhances a woman's beauty. Women put on lipstick to make their lips attractive and beautiful, stylish, charming and gorgeous. 

Facial expressions are one of the more important aspects of human communication. The face is responsible for communicating not only thoughts or ideas but also emotions. What makes the communication of emotions interesting is that it appears as if some of these expressions of emotion may be biologically hardwired, and are expressed the same way by all people of all cultures.

Non-verbal communication that relies heavily on facial expressions is now tampered with. Our hearing impaired brothers and sisters are facing a tough moment.

All in all, the face mask inconvenience is a small price we are all ready to pay to combat the spread of the virus. At the same time, we are learning to appreciate small things that we had taken for granted for a long time. Soon, we will go back to our normal faces without masks. For now, we insist on handwashing, sanitising and wearing the face mask in public places.

Ashford and Diana are MA students in Project Planning and Management at UoN.