A message to the anti-maskers

Delaney Brenner, Staffer

As a volunteer at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people walking around inside, where a mask is required, with their mask off or below their nose, and have to tell them to put it on or pull it up. 

I don’t understand… is wearing a mask really that hard?

I refuse to believe that pulling the mask below your nose makes it “easier to breathe,” as most people breathe mainly through their mouths anyway. Also, just because no one is directly watching you at all times does not mean the mask-wearing requirement goes away!

If you have never exercised while wearing a mask, then you cannot complain about how uncomfortable masks are. I mean, wearing a mask under normal circumstances may feel strange, hot, or make your glasses fog up, but wearing one while working out is a whole other world. 

“Now why on earth would you exercise in a mask?” you may ask. “Just do it outside and then a mask is not required.” While that is true, and would make life so much easier, in order to have group practices for sports-specific guidelines must be followed. Even though I swim, we do strength exercises that cause multiple people to use the same equipment in a confined space.  Because of this, we must wear masks. 

And suffer all the extra pains of doing so. 

First, the sweat. It’s summer and it’s very hot which makes sweating almost guaranteed.  As the sweat pours down your face, it begins to collect on the mask, making it heavy and damp. Damp masks are even itchier, ill-fitting, and likely to fall down than normal masks.

The sweat-laden mask begins to stick to your face, trapping your breath inside even more than usual. On top of that, breathing is heavier from working out, creating more hot air that gets trapped against your face. The mask will often get pulled up against your mouth by strong inhales: restricting breathing and causing more sweat to soak into the mask.  

By the time you’re done exercising, you’ll want to rip the mask off your face as quickly as possible. Of course you will contemplate taking it off during the exercise, but you cannot imagine how terrible it would feel to learn that you were asymptomatic and gave a friend COVID-19 just because you could not wear a mask. Plus your coach would come yell at you and make you put it back on. In the end, you resign yourself to suffering (but usually not in silence). 

So to all the Karens, Kens, and everyone else out there complaining about wearing a mask to a grocery store, aquarium, mall, or anywhere at all, check yourself. We understand that masks can be annoying, easy to forget, and uncomfortable. But we all need to do our part to protect the people around us. 

Doctors and scientists say that if everyone wore a mask when appropriate, we would have the coronavirus under control in about two months. 

And hey, you can always be grateful you’re not doing pull-ups, squats, push-ups, or running in your mask. Outside.  In 90-plus degrees.  

Because if it’s not exercise, it’s not that hard.