Face masks have become an everyday accessory on campus

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Photo by Joceline Helmbreck

Students share how they pair this new accessory with outfits.

Being a student during the era of COVID-19 has resulted in countless twists and turns, but one thing has remained constant: face masks. As a mandated accessory on Marquette’s campus, students have had to incorporate the constant wearing of face masks into their daily lives.

Lauren Llanes-Smith, a first-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she appreciates the health benefits of wearing her face mask.

“I feel safe when wearing a mask,” Llanes-Smith said.

According to the CDC, face masks help limit the spread of airborne viruses by preventing respiratory droplets from traveling from one person to another.

Samantha Roushia, a first-year student in the College of Nursing, has completely adapted to wearing her mask.

“I honestly feel weird if I don’t have a mask on,” Roushia said.

As the temperature grows colder in Milwaukee, Roushia also praised face masks as an accessory for extra warmth. Masks cover both the mouth and the nose, body parts which don’t receive coverage by most other winter accessories.

Roushia believes the face mask can have a large effect on one’s warmth during colder months.

“You don’t really have to wear a scarf if you’re wearing a face mask,” Roushia said.

“During winter, it will keep your face warm,” Llanes-Smith said. “It might also make more people wear it above their nose.”

Maggie Conlan, a first-year student in the College of Health Sciences, said she is also used to wearing a mask daily now, but agrees that it can be uncomfortable to wear during warmer weather, especially for those who spend a lot of time outdoors.

“It’s definitely better wearing it now than in the middle of the summer when it’s like, ninety degrees out,” Conlan said.

Face masks have also become a fashion statement among students. With designs ranging from vibrant patterns to solid colors, they can be used to enhance a student’s outfit in a variety of ways.

Llanes-Smith enjoys coordinating the designs of her face masks with her outfits and finds that it can be a way for her to express her individuality.

“I actually do match them to my outfits, since I have a lot of them,” Llanes-Smith said. “It can help you stand out a little bit.”

Llanes-Smith said she owns about 20 face masks.

Conlan said she appreciates a more casual look for her face masks, but still attempts to match them with her clothing.

“My masks have simple designs, but can still add something,” Conlan said. “I try to pair them with my outfits.”

Other students choose more practical face masks with solid colors. Roushia said these masks can be easier to pair with outfits and are more practical for everyday use.

“I don’t really wear face masks with designs on them,” Roushia said.

She said her collection bases itself on more classic colors such as black, gray and navy.

Despite the world’s unique circumstances, a face mask does allow the community to have something in common with one another. Since all students are wearing a mask, they are always able to relate to each other.

“It can definitely be a conversation starter,” Conlan said. She said she believes it can help students form friendships and grow closer.

Students can buy their face masks from a variety of retailers such as Old Navy, Amazon or shops on Etsy. They can also be purchased from locally-owned shops or they can even be homemade. However, some homemade masks may not be as effective as those that are professionally produced.

This story was written by Lea Peters. She can be reached at lea.peters@marquette.edu.