When Covid restrictions start easing, I’m going to struggle getting reacquainted with being frequently stared at and commented on in public – because of my face.
I have NOT missed the stares and comments from strangers since I’ve been wearing a mask.
I have not missed the curiosity and fear from children.
I have not missed the sniggers, finger pointing and double takes from adults.
I have not missed holding my breath before getting in a taxi, anticipating whether a taxi driver will refuse me service once they see me.
I have not missed the refusal of a chair at a music venue because I only look sunburnt, not sore enough to be unable to stand for a long period of time.
I have not missed navigating drunk and drug affected people who comment on my face even more arrogantly than sober people do.
I have not missed the ridiculous questions (ok, some of them are pretty funny!).
I have not missed the tiring interruptions to my day because of someone’s rudeness.
While I’m heavy with tiredness from living in a pandemic; the uncertainty of work and the grief from everything that is no longer, I have a profound sense of lightness too.
I am proud of my appearance, and confident too. But I have not missed feeling like I shouldn’t be, because of someone else’s awful behaviour.
There’s a comfort in blending in – everyone has a level of uniformity now. And while my skin experiences a little discomfort from wearing a mask for more than 20 minutes, it’s been a relief not to be stared at as often.
Of course none of my masks are plain. They’re all bright florals, and I’ve had fun integrating them into my outfits. And they’re an excellent conversation starter.
It really has been a privilege to go about my day not being stared at for the last six months or so.
And if you’ve never experienced the situations I’ve listed above, please remember your privilege.
How about when all this is over – *gestures wildly at the shit-show of 2020* – people stop stop staring at those of us with facial differences, skin conditions and disability. I know my friends from these communities feel similar to me. (Read Ariel Henley’s brilliant piece on masks.)
When *all of this is over*, there are some things that I hope we will keep. The options to see doctors by Telehealth. Making IRL events digital and more accessible. The slower pace. And being able to go about my day without being singled out, harassed or discriminated against because of my face.
Has this post made you think differently about disability, appearance diversity and facial difference? Will you use it in your school and workplaces? Please consider buying me a drink. Thanks!
You can read more of my writing in my memoir, Say Hello. It’s available in paperback, ebook and audiobook, worldwide.