Here’s a bit of history on how and why face masks became so popular in East Asia. Some have insinuated that if you like and copy one thing from another culture (i.e. anime from Japan), that you must be in favor of mimicking all other behaviors (i.e. wearing a mask); it is an argument I have actually been presented in favor of mask mandates. I don’t believe in adopting entire cultures as a result of snagging a piece of one.
These are prepandemic articles that detail the vast numbers of people wearing masks that have steadily been growing. I mention prepandemic because there seems to be a misconception that people who are anti-mandated wearing of facial coverings are somehow hypocritical for not being vocally against it before. There is no hypocrisy in not wanting to be forced to cover my face because it never actually bothered me when other people chose to do it. I have never personally worn a mask in a time when the CDC recommended it before COVID-19.
During the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, the CDC had put guidelines out in regards to mask wearing, and it always said “facemask preferred” and “if tolerable” when recommending someone wears a face mask. There seems to have been a prior conception that it was not something they could legally force upon We The People at that time.
It is very interesting to see how fires and toxic air quality influenced mask wearing in Southeast Asia and how that lead to it being a fashion statement. Ironically, the CDC recently announced masks “do not catch small particles found in wildfire smoke.” This shows unscientific bias in favor of mask wearing mandates for COVID-19 because the 1.0 micron smoke particles happen to be quite large in comparison to the 0.12 micron SARS-CoV-2. If the smoke particles are too small for the masks to help, it would seem as though they would not catch the aerosolized virus particles that are 10x smaller.
It made sense to me when I found out people wear a face mask in East Asian countries because they want to hide their face for cosmetic reasons (i.e. not wearing makeup, wanting face to seem slim, make eyes pop) since cosmetic surgery and perfect appearances rank high in importance in most East Asian cultures.
Also, teens wearing them as an antisocial disclaimer is not surprising in any culture. Using a face mask as a sign that says “don’t talk to me” or wanting to maintain anonymity is a logical reason, but is that good for society? Perhaps it is a sign that the respectful, social Japanese culture is eroding amongst the youth?
They gained momentum in spreading throughout different East Asian cultures when different natural disasters such as fires took place, causing everyone to don a face covering. There were also times of extremely low quality air, and citizens were told to cover their faces to protect them for dangerous smog.
The suggestion that there should be an implementation of face masks in America because we have followed Southeast Asian cultures in other aspects of life is a huge implication of the ignorance epidemic in America. Asians did not begin to wear them to prevent sickness, and it is not a fad a constitutional republic should be implementing into our society.