The Trendy But Practical Guide to Wearing a Mask Correctly

This is satire.

Sarah Tachau, Opinions Associate Editor

Heading into another uncertain period in the timeline of COVID-19, the safest method to prevent spreading the virus is to wear a mask. Everyone has heard of the mask’s unquestionable importance; however, time and time again people face the shame of going out in public with their masks on the wrong way. These individuals must not be criticized, as the complex construction of this fabric concoction is mind-boggling to figure out, let alone to be sure it is serving its purpose. Fear not, because this detailed, multi-step guide is guaranteed to teach those who are unsure how to wear a mask correctly and safely in a time when keeping others healthy matters most.

The Basics: What are the parts of the mask and how do they work?

Before wearing a mask, the proper understanding of each of its complex parts is critical. This guide will only review two major components, so you, the reader, will not feel too overwhelmed: the earloops and the nose bridge.

The Earloops:








The earloops may appear as flimsy pieces of fabric on the sides of the mask, and that is in fact just what they are. Out of the two major components of a mask, the ear straps are the one part people tend to understand right off the bat. These straps are responsible for holding the mask to the face, thus being placed in the nooks behind the ear.

The Nose Bridge:








By far one of the most intricate parts of a mask: the nose bridge never fails to leave people utterly bewildered. This particular piece is critical in the safe wear of a mask. Unfortunately, people young and old misinterpret the word “nose” to mean “under the nose.” Such confusion often causes them to leave the mask underneath their nose, ultimately defeating its purpose. 

The Top 3 Trending Mask Styles This Season, and Their Common Misconceptions

Take a walk through the King of Prussia Mall and an individual is destined to see at least one person wearing a mask in one of the three styles trending this season: the under-the-nose, the neck-warmer, and the one-size-does-not-fit-all. Before reviewing how to wear a mask correctly, it is key to understand what each of these popular misconceptions looks like.


The Under-the-Nose

There is nothing people hate more than the suffocating nature of light fabric constructed to allow one to breathe easily and safely. Thus, the under-the-nose style of mask-wearing allows the individual to breathe without gasping for air like those who wear masks correctly. This particular style became a popular fashion choice as in-person learning returned and students wanted to be sure they would be recognized by their friends. Commonly, those who feel guilty displaying clear misuse of a mask will provoke sympathy from others by pulling the edge of the mask just barely over their nose every five minutes. This action ensures that the mask will still fall under the nose, but at least the wearer is spared any shame. 

The Neck-Warmer

Progressing through the colder months, the neck-warmer style is gaining traction for those who wish to receive brownie-points for having the mask on them, but dislike the constricting trend of wearing a mask under the nose. As stated in its name, this method keeps the neck warm during the cool temperatures of mid-winter. To wear this style, one places the mask exactly one-and-a-half inches from the edge of the chin, under the jawline. Doing so allows others to notice this trend from six feet away, ensuring they will give utmost credit to the wearer for having a mask in public. Not surprising, the neck-warmer has proven to increase the likelihood of spreading the virus by 100%, and as stated by WHO, “This winter everyone must remember to stay warm. However, we discourage resorting to mask use as a substitute for a scarf or other neck warmer.”

The One-Size-Does-Not-Fit-All

Both the under-the-nose and neck-warmer methods assume that the wearer’s mask is an appropriate fit. Unfortunately, for some people, even the task of finding a mask in their size is a difficult endeavor. Others just skip to the kid’s section, as the vibrant mask patterns for children appeal more than the outdated sky blue. Nonetheless, these two examples fall into the one-size-does-not-fit-all conflict of mask-wearing. Too often these people feel wearing a mask requires such high-level thought that they just throw caution to the wind and try both the under-the-nose and the one-size-does-not-fit-all method at once; this style typically looks like a mask that repeatedly falls off the nose, yet even when worn correctly mask is too small or flat.

How to Wear a Mask Correctly: What Not to Do, An Overview

One problem all of these styles share is that they allow air to flow freely from the wearer to other individuals; given that the virus is airborne, this characteristic is not ideal. I cannot remember the last time health teachers recommended poking a hole in a condom. Similarly, when dealing with a potentially fatal virus, one should not follow the DIY trend of cutting a hole in their mask, as seen on today’s musicians. Nor should they wear it below their nose or not wear it at all, right? Perhaps in other countries, people would answer no. Yet Americans take pride in being number one, even in pandemic cases, and protecting their freedom to get sick and kill others. 

After going over the basics and correct form, wearing a mask is actually quite simple. Step one, pick a mask that fits. Step two, put the ear loops around the ears; remember, just because the ear loops fit around the wrist does not mean that is where they belong. Step three, bend the nose bridge piece to fit one’s nose bridge and pull the bottom of the mask under the chin. All the given steps applied, and voila, safe and healthy mask-wearing. 

Jokes aside, there is only so much one article can do to guilt the reader into wearing a mask correctly. At the end of the day, it is up to the individual to choose whether or not they wish to contribute to the spread of a virus that has already killed nearly two million people or to wear a mask correctly. By reading this far, there officially is no excuse for you to choose the first option, so be safe and put on your mask.