By Carlos Fuentes
Covering our faces to decrease the spread of a virus came with a mystery waiting to be uncovered. Our imaginations have circled the question of how the person next to us looks. The made-up perceptions of a person’s beauty have indirectly placed standards of how a person should look, which has raised anxiety and shallow behavior within our community. Thus, the protector to our health has become part of a phenomenon known as mask fishing where people feel ‘catfished’ after seeing how a person looks under the mask.
There are consequences to the phrase mask fishing that people fail to comprehend. A person can be triggered and hesitate to show their face because of insecurities that come with wearing a mask. A fifth-year student at Long Beach State, named Angela Max, describes a time when she and a new friend went out to lunch for the very first time together. She expressed how her friend Clarissa Hernandez felt nervous about taking off her mask because of ‘maskne’—a new term being used for mask acne. “She got nervous showing her face” Max said. “She kept saying, ‘you’re going to see my face now…I have maskne’”.
The conversation Max and Hernandez had illustrates how a person’s anxiety holds them back from showing their face. She would have rather continued hiding before failing to represent others’ perceptions of her. Luckily, Hernandez had a wonderful friend to remind her that she was beautiful regardless of her acne.
The notion of mask fishing is overlooked by many of us. Mask fishing was first introduced on TikTok. The trend started with people wearing their masks and revealing their faces later in the video, the caption usually being “Am I catfishing?”. Chicano studies and anthropology student, Jasmin Gonzalez, had no idea mask fishing was a trend. However after explaining what mask fishing was, she commented on how it pushes forward unrealistic ideals of beauty that target the POC community, “It perpetuates a Euro-centric beauty standard that is harmful to people of color” Gonzalez said.
Mask fishing makes dating harder, especially for those who battle with low self-esteem. Transfer student, Rosaura Montes, states that we shouldn’t turn our heads away from someone we enjoy being with for not looking a certain way. She suggested that people should get over looks and date people they enjoy their time with.
“Especially for those that have low self-esteem and they get scared to take off their mask because what if someone doesn't find them attractive after all? I don’t know, it's all weird. And honestly dating during a pandemic is already tough!” said Montes.
There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding mask fishing, but it doesn’t hide the fact that the trend is going beyond a video for TikTok. The mystery behind the mask has implanted beauty expectations that mentally and socially affect the lives of people daily. Mask fishing isn’t something to take lightly; we start to enforce beauty ideals that not everyone can meet. Moreover, we shouldn’t make people feel as if they should meet any beauty standards. Instead, let us create a more positive and uplifting environment for everyone that doesn’t enforce false ideals or unfair expectations.