The surgical mask – your fashion (albeit germ-conscious) friend
In my mind, the only place you would find a surgical mask is at a medical clinic or hospital. But in Hong Kong – if you are feeling sick, it is totally the norm to wear a mask.
My initial thought when I saw people wearing a mask was: EW. DISEASE. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU. WHY ARE YOU IN PUBLIC. It is very uncommon to wear a mask when sick in Western culture. When you think about why people would wear a mask and the reasons behind it, it makes a little more sense – it prevents the spread of germs – (duh) – but that is never really our first thought. And, in a city of 7 million + ppl, that is an immensely important (and a considerate) thing to do.
…ESPECIALLY when you consider the whole SARS ordeal in 2003…H7N9 (not that it has been confirmed to spread human-to-human)… and other random strains of disease that seem to be taking over the world *think World War Z style.
Now that I’ve lived in Asia a couple of years, I’m not going to lie – I’m quite the fan of covering my face with a pretty blue or green surgical mask. In fact, wearing such an interesting accessory might be appropriate in situations other than as a prevention of disease… for example… when you need to use a dirty, public squat toilet (anywhere in Asia) and you need to mask the smells… or when you are having an incredibly rough day at work and want to spend the entire time crying… it is more than likely people will avoid you when that mask covers half your face… no one can see your frown…OR… (my personal fave) to hide that horrible puss filled, red, inflamed zit.
So, next time you see someone with a surgical mask, say a little thank you; they are sparing you their germs.