Venetian carnival maskThey’re fascinating, aren’t they?

Decadent Venetian carnival masks, eerie African death masks, elegant eye masks on wands, and let’s not forget the superheroes and their disguises. Masks can be beautiful, frightening, plain, ornate, but all of them have that strange draw.

They seem to tap into something quite primal in us, eliciting an emotional response even before we’ve even fully processed the image. It’s not fear exactly but a combination of unease and awe.

Something is hidden from us and so we can’t fully make sense of it. Who is it? Can they be trusted? Is that really who we think it is? If not, will we need to run? But the truth is we all wear masks, invisible ones. Are we the same at home and out with friends? Is the face we present at work the same as the one we show family? Not usually.

For most of us the process is so familiar, it’s almost automatic. We dress appropriately for the situation in which we will find ourselves. We carry ourselves differently, depending on the circumstances. Masks may be slightly more obvious with women, as make up is more traditionally used by the female gender (although if you’re a bloke who indulges in eyeliner and hair dye, please don’t feel left out!).

What’s the old saying? ‘I must go and put my face on.’  Make-up is fun and can be a real boost, but just remember the next time you’re applying that lipstick in front of the mirror, you’re creating the mask you want everyone else to see…


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