FACE MASK- A FASHION STATEMENT AND HEALTH BENEFIT

Face masks have recently appeared at the forefront of fashion trends as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, we are forced to cover our mouth and nose with a mask. It may be uncomfortable but there isn’t a second option.

Face masks act as variolation to build immunity, slow the spread of infection in addition to this, Masks filter out some virus and may allow a small amount of virus to enter and provide a vaccine-like effect.

As masks become a fashion statement their environmental impact cannot be ignored. Masks go eco-friendly. They have so many health benefits also.

When face masks were mandated in a bid to battle the novel coronavirus outbreak, hardly anyone would have imagined that they would end up getting a fashionable makeover. To be honest, no one also knew that this pandemic would hover over our lives and we would eventually be forced to wear masks for so long. The protective gear was supposed to help us fight the battle. But it has now doubled up as a fashion accessory and a statement too. Not only us; but the current scenario in the fashion world suggests so.

The market is brimming with masks boasting of quirky prints, bedazzling embellishments, elegant embroideries, hand-painted designs, and whatnot. Interestingly, the availability of these ‘fashionable face masks’ is not limited. From local bazaars to high-end designers and everything in between (Instagram stores, e-commerce websites, apparel brands), these masks are everywhere.

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However, for different parts of the world, the adoption of this trend has developed at varying rates.

Perhaps the fashion industry should have seen this trend coming – at the Grammy Awards earlier this year.

A few years back, what children expected of 2020 were ideas from humankind’s most ambitious brains – a boom in technology, flying cars, outrageous fashion and so much more. What we did see in 2020 were bushfires, increased pollution, and a pandemic that has forced the world to stay indoors. Our trends have changed and are still in the process of further changes, as we try to protect ourselves and everyone around us from the deadly novel coronavirus.

‘Social Distancing’ became the new buzzword. Peoples are forced to stay inside, working, or studying through online platforms, stepping out only if it was absolutely necessary and trying to be as self-sufficient as we could afford to be.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suddenly occupies a central role in our lives today. Masks, gloves, hazmat suits, and sanitizers play a key role in curbing the spread of this deadly virus. The most important and commonly used is the mask.

The mask as a product has grabbed a lot of attention. Everyone has to be seen wearing it when they step outside. It has become the new norm and a common sight on the streets. But in countries like Japan and South Korea, wearing a mask has always been the norm. The people from these countries wear masks on a daily basis to protect themselves against pollution, airborne diseases, germs, and also from preventing the spread of germs to others.

In India, the air quality in cities like New Delhi has been alarmingly low and poor. There has been a rise in respiratory problems amongst the city due to which many were seen covering their faces with scarves and stoles for protection. The recent bushfire in Australia has seen a huge drop in the air quality due to which many in the country started wearing masks. The mask had the reputation of being a clinical product beneficial only for medical workers and patients. But now due to the environmental and climatic crisis around the world and mostly due to the current health crisis, the perception towards this product has changed overnight.

Varieties of masks from use and throw to designers masks are being marketed. Masks have also become an item of charity. Individuals and factories are producing it. But for, Shwetambar it is a part of their holy attire since the 5th century BCE.

The mandatory mask of the attire of Shwetambar Jain is related to their practice of non-violence. Non-violence is the highest ethical duty of Jains and they practice it to the highest level. They practice non-violence not only in action but in speech and thought too. It led them to cover their mouth with a mask.

Mask is the logical extension of the highest level of non-violence, it prevents aerial microorganisms from accidentally being inhaled or swallowed. They are committed to not harm or kill any living or nonliving, even micro-organisms to attain the non-violence in its purest form. What a beautiful thought and practice since ancient times which now comes as a fashion statement.

So, masks not only necessary as protection against disease, or as a fashion statement but also according to Jainism it is a mandatory attire to protect oneself and other-self.

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