FASHION/HEALTH - When it comes to fashion, its become a cliche to wear a gas mask on the runway. Especially when it comes to fetish or BDSM garb. Its been OVERDONE. Stop doing it already! (I swear people are so unimaginative at times.)
But... with the recent spread of the Swine Flu (H1N1 virus) from Mexico, a lot of people are taking the wise precaution and are wearing surgical masks to protect themselves from the deadly plague.
Before I get into this I think its really important that people wear protection, even if you're not sick. You could catch H1N1 from somebody else, just by shaking their hand, opening a door, handling money, someone coughing nearby (or in an elevator) or any number of ways since its an airborne bacteria. The best way to prevent it is to be very careful about what touches your hands, what touches your face or goes in your mouth, and be mindful of washing your hands regularly.
So buying food at the cafeteria or restaurant near your workplace... big no-no. Bring a bag lunch. No, you're not poor, but you are cautious. Who knows what people are coughing onto the food in the cafeteria's kitchen... its best not to take that chance.
Far too few people in epidemics even take these things seriously... and they're the ones who get sick first. It is better to err on the side of caution, even if you feel weird about wearing a mask in public.
However, there are two things that concerns me:
#1. How effective are surgical masks at preventing the spread of the H1N1 virus? Really we should all be wearing gloves, washing our hands and faces multiple times per day, and wearing masks which are much more effective.
#2. How fashion friendly are surgical masks? Well... not very. But you could wear lots of blue to match them... or maybe even buy nurse scrubs and wear those, which would be kinda kewl even if you're not a nurse.
My solution has been to skip the mask and opt for a bandanna, folding it in half diagonally and wearing it as per bank robbers in the Ol' West. I firmly believe the bandanna, which comes in many fashionable colours and designs, is more effective because it covers the sides of the mouth much more effectively than a surgical mask.
If I wanted to go all out I could get a gas mask, but they're pricey and apparently take a lot of practice to learn how to wear properly. If the H1N1 virus epidemic reaches that point... I think its time to just call in sick (even though I am not) and avoid going to work for several weeks until this whole plague thing is over.
But in the meantime I think the bandanna option makes a smart (and much more fashionable) way of keeping myself safe. A thick scarf could also work, but depending on the weather that may be unpractical.
Swine flu spreading faster than expected
Worldwide Influenza Pandemic Warned
Swine flu hits Mexico and western United States