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Cover shot: how to wear your mask

The choker, the chin strap, the peek-a-boo and finally, the full monty
The full monty is the totally nude look. Not a thread on the face. The down-with-it, extreme radical choice, full of attitude. Let us call this the Corona Swag

Chandrima S. Bhattacharya   |     |   Published 17.07.20, 12:59 AM

There are quite a few ways of not wearing the mask. They are popular trends, at least in this part of the world, and my friend and I have tried to name a few styles.

1. The choker: it’s the style in which the mask is pushed down to cover the throat area, like a choker. Looks good if the mask has been carefully chosen to go with the clothes. Like Marilyn wore the diamonds with her shocking pink gown.

2. The chin strap: the mask is pushed down, but only to cover the jowls and the chin. The Kanye look. Trending.

3. The jhumka: this is the style that allows the mask to be dangled from one ear, like a jhumka. It can sway gently in the breeze. A romantic, windswept look.

4. The headband: the mask is pushed up and covers the forehead or the hairline. Goes well with casual chic, although not with paijama panjabi.

Now for the naughty styles.

5. The peek-a-boo: visually striking, here the mask is worn the right way, fastened to both ears, no less, and covering the mouth — only the tip of the nose shows. Teasing, wicked style, pushing the limits.

6. Finally, the full monty: the totally nude look. Not a thread on the face. The down-with-it, extreme radical choice, full of attitude. Let us call this the Corona Swag.

Now I am a timid, conservative dresser, always have been. I remain the same with my masks. I also suffer from paranoia, an existential state that does not permit me to experiment too much with fashion, or anything else.

I have gone to the other extreme. I have worn two masks at a time, concerned that one was too thin. And I have only marvelled at those who have been so brave as to go mask-free, my jaws trying to drop within the constraints of my mask and failing.

I have, with trepidation, asked a few why is it that they are wearing their masks, yet not covering their noses. “How can I breathe if I wear the mask always?” is the usual indignant answer. A gentleman whom I had asked the same question snorted so hard, aiming his nostrils at me, that my lungs filled up with his nicotine breath. Another person, who had taken off his mask just before handing me a parcel, told me sharply that if he had not, he would not have been able to speak to me.

The maskless look at me with contempt. On one of my forays into the neighbourhood one day, a Swag hero congratulated me on coming out instead of sitting at home and shaking with fear, said he was happy to be not wearing a mask and proceeded to buy jilipi.

I would really like to know how he can be so fearless. It is true that many still do not know why exactly they are being asked to wear a mask. The information about how the coronavirus spreads has not reached them and therefore, the mask can be reduced to an occasional gesture, adequate to drive the virus away. In such a scenario, the State machinery is requested to ask the freshly-bathed celebrities to stop singing the songs invoking a romantic corona-free future on television and talk about the spread of the virus. Educate. 

But not all are not in the know. So how does one not care even after knowing how the virus spreads? I think for two reasons.

One, the need to eat the jilipi in an unimpaired, uninhibited way, to have it piping hot, the oil drops bursting in the mouth, is so great that it overtakes every other consideration. 

Two, the belief that nothing will happen to me. Because someone, somewhere will take care of me. But that is a working definition of God and I can’t believe in Him.


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