COVID-19 Masks Used for Cultural Expression


SEATTLE, Washington — Ever since the start of the global pandemic, many countries have mandated everyone to wear masks when in public. It is just one of the many steps countries are taking to ensure everyone’s safety. Different communities took this opportunity to express their creativity, which has also helped small businesses flourish in the making. This resulted in fun designs for COVID-19 masks that are used as a form of expression.

Latino Masks and Giving Back

A plus-size fashion designer, Ashley Nell Tipton used her love for her Latino culture as self-expression through these COVID-19 masks. She creates a variety of designs related to Latino culture on these masks, so people can enjoy wearing them about. Some of her most popular designs included drawings of Frida Kahlo and Puerto Rican flags as well as other national flags. Tipton felt as though these masks can unify her community with the creative expression they allow for.

In addition, she is using these masks to help give back to her community. Through her leadership, she was able to donate over 7,000 masks to healthcare workers and customers. Therefore, in addition to using masks to creatively represent her culture, she is also using them to help out during this pandemic.

Aztec Nigra’s Decorative Masks

Aztec Nigra is a small business specializing in textiles and accessories. It has also devoted its time during this pandemic towards expressing African and Mexican culture through making masks. The founder, Marisol Catchings, has always had a warm heart and attempted to give to her community. Feeling that her African and Mexican heritage isn’t represented enough, she decided to fix that problem. Her solution during these times was to express her cultural admiration through decorating masks.

Additionally, she too has used her position and company to help others during this time. As a small business founder, she utilized her role to donate to her local healthcare workers and providers. As of now, she has donated over 500 masks to healthcare workers.

Creative Masks Spread

This creativity has had a large ripple effect in most of the Latin American countries. More than 40 fashion companies in Columbia have used these designs in order to promote the wearing of masks during this global pandemic. In fact, many other small businesses have thrived over the creative designs being made for masks. For example, Benik, a small business run by women, has had more than 500 orders of face masks placed each day.

Making these vibrant masks has not only had an economic effect but a political effect as well. The Guatemalan president, Alejandro Giammattei, pledged to give his citizens four million masks for free in order to contribute toward keeping his country safe. He even wore a mask embroidered with his country’s flag during his speech, showing that these masks express the proud nationalism many citizens have for Guatemala.

COVID-19 has brought many unfortunate circumstances during these hard times. However, it has also brought many people together to devise creative solutions for the problem we face. Many citizens in Latin American countries took this pandemic and turned it into an opportunity to express their culture through creative COVID-19 masks. Although this global pandemic has brought unexpected conditions, communities are still looking towards the positive aspects brought by COVID-19.

– Aishwarya Thiyagarajan

Photo: Flickr


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