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Mask Wearing Made Beautiful

By Ma*Shuqa Mira Murjan As a dancer, dance coach and instructor, and former public health educator – I acknowledge the science and need to wear masks to prevent transmission of the COVID virus. After 22 months since the start of the COVID pandemic, public health officials continue to recommend mask-wearing as a protective measure to reduce viral transmission.

While it is true that N95 masks provide 80 to 95% protection to filter out airborne particles. Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos of Johns Hopkins says, “We know how this virus spreads. You have to breathe it in after someone actively breathes it out. If you should breathe in the virus, you’ll get a smaller viral load if both you and the other person are masked. If you feel unsafe in any situation, whether indoors or outdoors, and you are around people who may be ill and not tested, make the intelligent move and wear a mask.”

It’s been my personal prerogative and challenge to hopefully change behavioral resistance to wearing a mask. But, early on, as I sat at home and moved my dance classes outdoors and taught on our driveway, I became aware that many people were not amenable to wearing a mask.

I decided to decorate some masks made by one of my dance students, a retired RN, and a very skilled seamstress. She makes comfortable masks that meet filtration standards, have a flexible nose wire to keep the mask in place, and are even roomy enough to accommodate another surgical mask for extra protection and are washable. Her masks have two layers of cotton + another layer of decorative costuming fabric. They meet the CDC guideline of “blocking out light” to measure filtration potential.

Thus, I’ve now made over 400 rhinestone decorated masks that dancers from all over the US and internationally are wearing. Wearing my rhinestone masks dancers report positive feedback as they see the smile crinkles above the masks of other people. And, dancers love having beautiful masks to match their costuming for the return to performing at private parties and restaurant gigs.

I want to share some personal rhinestone mask-wearing experiences I’ve had that have made me smile. Once when waiting for a routine medical exam, the receptionist called my name to check-in. She commented: “Oh, are you checking in your mother?” As I gave her my ID and medical record card to check me in, she then said: “Oh my, I was expecting an older woman.” So, could it be that a rhinestone mask hid my senior status? And a few minutes later, in the exam room, the medical assistant focusing on the computer in the room and confirming my ID, etc., looked up and said exactly the same thing. So, yes, she too looked at my rhinestone mask and made a different assumption of my age.

Other rhinestone mask-wearing personal experiences that are a delight to recall. Ready to receive my annual influenza vaccination, I inquired whether the medical provider had the high quadrivalent flu shot prepared for me that is given to people over the age of 65. She said: “oh, I didn’t realize you were old enough.” Hmm, she hadn’t reviewed my medical record. However, she made the very same comment as others. “You really don’t look your age” and commenting on my beautiful rhinestone mask. The medical providers checking me in for COVID vaccinations have all inquired whether I was old enough – in those early days when vaccinations were limited to elderly seniors.

So, I advise all dancers to consider wearing a rhinestone mask. Hopefully, you can enjoy mask wearing as I do when you see smiling eyes behind the masks of others. If you wear a rhinestone mask made by Ma*Shuqa – you too might have years erased from you. See my mask collection of individually unique rhinestone masks at Ma*Shuqa’s Masks

I love hearing stories from the dancers who have purchased my masks and seeing their posts on Facebook.

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