Men Asking Me To Un-Mask Is Weird
I know that what I’m about to say is going to sound a bit crazy. Or a little bit mad. But I’ve experienced this a couple of times now and it still elicits the same reaction. I’m usually standing, minding my own business when some guy will enter my zone of peace and after a few pleasantries, he’ll ask me to remove my mask so that he can see my face.
Whenever it happens, I inwardly cringe. It’s an involuntary reflex. It almost feels like I’ve been asked to remove my clothes so that my body can be inspected. That’s the only way I can describe it. Just the mere request makes me feel vulnerable, not to COVID, but to being, for want of a better word, sexualized. Is that the right word? I don’t know.
I find the whole scenario very, very weird. I find it weird that someone would approach me with just my eyes on show (because I wrap my hair in a scarf too, it’s winter and it’s cold) and on the basis of this little information alone, this person has decided to strike up a conversation.
I don’t know whether this is a testament to how amazing my eyes look or how low their standards are.
And to clarify which way I think the needle is swinging, I have never ever received a compliment on my eyes. They’re not blue like the ocean, or green or hazel, or even honey brown. They are so dark they look black. For a long time, I actually thought they were black. So I know it’s not my eyes.
It’s definitely not my body. As I mentioned, it’s the middle of winter and I have perfected the art of “just stepped out to the corner shop” look. Headphones on, mask on, hooded sweatshirt on, non-figure hugging parka coat on.
I don’t mind people approaching respectfully but I do wonder whether coronavirus is affecting people’s ability to measure risk. Going out on a limb to talk to me when there isn’t much to go on is a risk.
But it’s the idea of having to lower my mask to be assessed by someone else is what makes me cringe. The mask is on for a reason. I’m struggling to find the right words to describe how confounded I feel…