By now, it is common knowledge that wearing a face mask in public spaces plays an important role in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Even given the overwhelming research backing the effective use of face masks during the pandemic however, many citizens continue to politicize them. A video of a woman at Trader Joe’s went viral last week, after she refused to wear a mask and called those around her “Democratic pigs” for urging her to leave. It’s an alarming display of self-centeredness, one that not only puts oneself at risk, but those nearby too. Our very own president often continues to go barefaced.
A collective commitment to wearing masks is still very much needed right now, and celebrities are beginning to use their platforms to highlight the issue. This week, Jennifer Aniston used her Instagram page, which boasts more than 34 million followers, to address the importance of covering up in public. Sharing a photo of herself sporting a black face mask, Aniston wrote in the caption, “I understand masks are inconvenient and uncomfortable. But don’t you feel that it’s worse that businesses are shutting down… jobs are being lost… health care workers are hitting absolute exhaustion. And so many lives have been taken by this virus because we aren’t doing enough.”
The actor continued: “I really do believe in the basic goodness of people so I know we can all do this. BUT still, there are many people in our country refusing to take the necessary steps to flatten the curve, and keep each other safe. People seem worried about their ‘rights being taken away’ by being asked to wear a mask. This simple and effective recommendation is being politicized at the expense of peoples’ lives. And it really shouldn’t be a debate.” The post seems to have struck a chord with many, as the photo now has well over 5 million likes.
It may seem like an obvious statement for Aniston to make. Public health officials, business owners, and some politicians are already imploring people to wear masks (or in the case of business owners, requiring it). But still, some people are ignoring those calls to action. Stars with platforms as large as Anistons can speak directly to their millions of fans, even if they influence just a handful of them.
, it’s hard to tell exactly what we want from celebrities right now, particularly white celebrities, amid a civil rights movement and a pandemic. While some celebrities have been criticized for addressing key issues in empty, tone-deaf ways—such as when a handful of starssang “Imagine” together—advocating for wearing a mask is a concrete action. It affects anyone, albeit disproportionately
Aniston isn’t the only celebrity to spread awareness about wearing masks, either (though hers is one of the most popular posts). Stars such as Anne Hathaway, Patrick Dempsey, Reese Witherspoon, and more have also uploaded simple selfies of themselves wearing coverings; the movement appears to have been started by designer Tory Burch, who encouraged her followers to #WearaDamnMask. “It’s a beautiful day to save lives,” wrote Dempsey, quoting his Grey’s Anatomy character and wearing his gingham style. Dempsey’s post was especially refreshing, given a recent study that found men are less likely to wear masks, because they agree that doing so is a “sign of weakness.”
Some stars have even turned the mask into full-on fashion moments too, making the case for a more style-minded approach to getting on board with covering up. Lizzo matched one with her bikini, Cindy Crawford coordinated one with her groovy top, and Lady Gaga even kicked off her Chromatica era with a custom studded mask. The takeaway being, yes, practicing safety can still be chic. As masks become more a part of our lives, celebrities should do their part and set an example.
Author: CHRISTIAN ALLAIRE