There is so much going on in the world just now, and people are losing it over masks?!
I am finding all the ‘if you wear a mask you are a good guy, but if you don’t you are disrespectful’ type posts really challenging.
Yes, I have seen the videos of people going wild over the ‘breath of God’/ how people won’t be able to identify sex pests/ utilising their constitutional right to choose.
I would like to clarify, I am not one of those people.
But, I am someone who has been going to the supermarket and not wearing a mask. I don’t feel like I should feel ashamed or judged for this, because I do have legitimate reasons.
I live in Scotland, and until today it was a choice whether we wore masks or not. Now, it has been made mandatory in shops and on transport.
This makes my life much more difficult. This isn’t a ‘woe be me’ sort of post. I have been extremely lucky during this whole lockdown situation and I am extremely appreciative, but I do think it is important to share perspectives.
My reasons for not wearing a mask are simple.
- I am asthmatic.
- I have very sensitive skin, particularly on my face, which reacts to maaaaany things, including different materials, glues and when I move into (or from) a refrigerated aisle in a supermarket.
- I wear glasses and the masks I originally did have- and tried to use- made my specs steam up so I couldn’t see.
- I have been totally overwhelmed by all the patterns/ styles/ types/ cuts that my online shopping baskets are full of different variations.
- I have sensory problems.
Just because I am not wearing a mask does not…:
… make me disrespectful
I have found, and know MANY others feel the same, that people in a mask don’t then stick to other rules e.g. keeping a social distance. If I could have a giant stick to poke people as a reminder to keep a distance, I would be all on board with that (as long as it wasn’t making me unable to breathe).
Tom Hanks saying if you don’t wear a mask then ‘shame on you’ OR Jennifer Aniston (who I love DEARLY) writing, ‘If you care about human life #wearadamnmask’ on her Instagram page, shows a very narrow view.
Maybe they could add a little caveat to your messages. ‘Shame on you *if you can’t wear a mask for any good reason and are just being difficult*’.
… show I am trying to be a rebel
I don’t think I have a particularly rebellious bone in my body. I have followed all government advice to the letter… ask my friends, we have had disagreements over their lack of attention to the rules.
… make me more interested in fashion than health
I have never been one to dress in a super fashionable way… and I’ve been living in the same 3 pairs of loungepants and t-shirts since Lockdown began. As I mentioned before, there are so many different choices and patterns that they have become an amazing new accessory. There is nothing I love more than a clashing pattern, a mask would have been an excellent addition to my attire.
… mean I am ignorant to how bad the virus is
My dad is an NHS hospital worker. I get it. I have friends and family in Lombardy/ Veneto in Northern Italy and I have cried at the news most days. I have friends who have lost grandparents. I have had friends in hospital going through awful treatments alone. I have friends who had no physical interactions for over 2 months. I am not disputing the virus. I get it.
Some people can’t wear masks for their own health reasons.
This particularly hits me hard as I am asthmatic, have incredibly sensitive skin allergies and have sensory problems. I also wear glasses. I put a mask on the other day for the first time as I was needing to go to the shops. My glasses steamed up; I struggled to breathe within 30 seconds and had to take my inhaler; and when I removed the mask I had come out in a rash immediately all over my cheeks.
Then I see all these people online calling others up as being ‘dramatic’ for saying they were unable to breathe. Yes, maybe some are being dramatic. But I wasn’t. I was in my house, in a room alone, so no one was going to be giving me an Oscar. If this is happening to me, it will be happening to other people with respiratory problems too.
If you have ever struggled to breathe, you will understand how scary it can be. If you have ever been admitted to hospital for a respiratory problem, you will know how unpleasant it can be. If you haven’t, then you are lucky never to have felt those sensations, because I can tell you, it is HORRIBLE.
The other rules people don’t seem to care about… but tick me off
- Social distancing
I thought this one was the most important… stay as far away from people as possible. There have been quite a few times that I have heard something similar to this conversation:
Shop assistant: Please keep your distance.
Customer: I am wearing a mask, it is OK.
NOPE! NOPE IT IS NOT! STAY BACK!
2. Arrows in supermarkets
A lot of our supermarkets in Scotland have started a one way system. Being completely truthful, I missed this the first time I went to one shop and was shouted at by a very angry lady. I apologised profusely and she kept shouting, so I may just be terrified from that experience. However, lots of people completely ignore the directions and therefore make people get closer than they need to. The bonus of having to go up and down is that you get more steps on the adventures up the aisles… #10000stepsaday … and more biscuits can also sneak into your trolley.
3. Social Interactions
This one is easing up now, so I am becoming less stressy about it. The other day, my mum and I saw about 6 families having a picnic together. They weren’t distancing, the kids were all playing and there were about 20 people in total. (Note: None were wearing masks). Our rules were 8 people maximum and only a mixture of 2 households. I really tried to find reasons for them being in that situation, but I still haven’t come up with one. They just thought they didn’t have to follow the rules. They are bigger than the virus.
4. Walking on paths in big groups
I run early in the morning to avoid people, but my GAWD, if I do go out when there are a few more people, I get infuriated by the groups of people walking 4 people side by side instead of moving into a polite single file position to allow other people to get past. I am more likely to be hit by a car as I try to stick to a social distancing situation than get the virus by not wearing a mask.*
*This is not a true statistic…
5. Fiddling with the mask.
Every time I see someone fiddling with their mask, I want to go and slap their hands. It is probably best that I do not have that aforementioned big stick. It is supposed to go on and stay on. Not be removed so you can chat to people/ smoke/ eat.
DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE was pretty much the first rule we were taught after WASH YOUR HANDS.
Everyone gets annoyed… but people are managing things in different ways.
These are my pet peeves and my own judgements… but am I going up and screaming at people in the street. NO!
(Disclaimer: I was VERY tempted to have a go at the yummy mummies in the park AND one of my neighbours who was having a party in their garden… but I didn’t.)
I think everyone needs to be a little more open minded to everyone in this situation. You don’t know what people are going through. Attacking individual people in the street is not OK. If you wouldn’t go up and scream in the face of someone smoking near a baby, don’t go and scream in the face of someone not wearing a mask.
Should I have to wear a big banner that states my health reasons for why I can’t wear one?
I saw a company charging £5 for a card that says ‘MASK EXEMPT’ with your health reason on it. I don’t believe everyone in public needs to know about my health status.
It should be enough that a member of the general public sees I don’t have a mask on and accepts there is probably a reason behind it, and the reason isn’t necessarily that I want everyone to die.
Reasons people aren’t wearing masks
Maybe they can’t afford one.
Maybe they have a respiratory problem or another health concern.
Maybe they are waiting for a mask delivery but desperately needed food.
Maybe they accidentally left it at home and live far away so returning to the house is impractical.
Maybe they have an allergy.
Maybe they have hearing aids.
Maybe they have read some medical advice that they believe to be true which makes them not trust the masks.
Who am I to judge? Who are YOU to judge?
P.S. I have ordered a range of masks in different materials/ sizes which I am hoping I will be able to use to go to the shops and see my friends. If I can’t find one, then I will continue to go on as I currently am in Lockdown.