Identifying The Mask
We’re all looking for recognisable faces as we arrive back at Pratt. Some might be searching for friends from a time before face coverings, while others might be looking for classmates that they only know from a Zoom meeting. In the end, though, we’re all searching for that pair of eyes that seems to say, “Hey, it’s me! Someone you know!”
As I returned to campus for the first time in a year, I was surprised by how many people recognized me. I couldn’t help wondering what hinted that it was me. For one thing, I wear glasses, but I know that these frames aren’t the same ones that I left campus with so long ago. I also usually wear my favorite jeans, but it’s been a while since anyone has noticed my clothes, let alone cared. There is also an obvious factor that identifies me: a physical disability that affects my hands. All of this inspired me to keep track of how I recognized others.
I came up with five ways to spot those I knew every time I stepped out of my dorm: eye wear, hair style, clothing choices, height and voice. None of these are particularly easy things to pick out of a crowd. However, often with overlap between these categories, I’ve found several friends while walking to the mail center, on campus or by a nearby coffee shop.
I’ve begun to recognize others by their masks, too. Whether it be their single use black mask or a unique, homemade cloth one, I’m able to match pattern to person the longer we’re on campus. You’ll always find me wearing a solid colored mask that matches my outfit. I find other people do the same.
My suitemate, Grace, is a sophomore in her first semester on campus. I asked her thoughts on meeting and recognizing other students now that we’re in person.
“It’s definitely easier already knowing what they look like over Zoom, [and] to then recognise them with a mask,” she states. “But art students change their appearances so often. I definitely wouldn’t be able to recognise them if they had drastically changed their appearance.”
Regardless, it’s great to see everyone on campus, greeting each other and sharing a physical space once again. It’s an invitation for all of us to become that pair of eyes that says, “Hey, it’s me! Someone you know!”
Illustration by Alex Moon