It hasn’t taken long for coronavirus mask fashion to actually become a trend.
All over YouTube and Instagram, talented beauty influencers have turned the COVID-19 outbreak into a makeup challenge, and are sharing tutorials that see them creating special cosmetics looks to match their medical face masks.
The majority of the “coronavirus inspired makeup looks” focus on statement eye makeup, as masks cover up the lower half of the face.
With the global outbreak of the coronavirus that started in Wuhan, the surgical mask has not only turned into the weapon of choice – along with antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser – but is today’s most coveted accessory.
Influencers say the intention behind the posts is to ask their followers to stay safe, however, some social media users feel it somehow diminishes the serious nature of the outbreak.
hi no shade but why are girls doing a coronavirus makeup look? pls do not make that a trend.
— Mia 🦋 (@glamxmia) March 17, 2020
Fatima Aldewan, an Iraqi makeup artist living in the UAE, has been criticised for publishing a video in which she demonstrated how to create the perfect coronavirus makeup look.
One social media user responded to the video saying: “Even the coronavirus now has a makeup look. What kind of stupidity are you guys living in?”
Another user warned: “People are dying from this illness, show some respect and have some boundaries.”
Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised that most people do not need to wear a face mask, Jordanian designer Samia Alzakleh is creating masks encrusted with rhinestones, amid deepening concerns over the spread of the disease.
She told Reuters the goal of designing these gags was not commercial, adding that she had made a small amount to present as gifts to celebrities.
“My goal in creating these face masks was to encourage people to wear protective face masks. They’re not 100% medical. I just wanted to encourage people to wear face masks and for people who like to follow fashion, they can wear them. They can even wear it as a cover over their real mask, which can only be used for a certain amount of time of course.”
However, not everyone is seeing the positivity behind it. Critics have accused the influencers of lacking sensitivity, and said that those with a voice that can reach millions should not be treating the outbreak as a fashion statement.
Alzakleh added: “There are a lot of people who love this idea, but at the same there are a lot of people who criticise it because it’s related to an illness. But my goal wasn’t to focus on the illness or the mask. My goal was simply an artistic one.”
British-Lebanese barrister Amal Clooney’s older sister, Tala Alamuddin, has also been criticised after creating luxury, non-medically approved face masks and hand sanitiser pouches for over $30 each on her fashion website.
An Instagram account by the name Misspinklavender wrote: “You should be ashamed of yourself for selling these. Trying to profit off the coronavirus, that’s literally killing thousands of people.”
Others found it questionable as they commented, “Is this mask an N95 mask?? Does it protect against the virus or is it just a fashion thing???”, while another simply commented, “Totally insensitive.”
Following the criticism, Alamuddin told Hello: “Masks are a staple in Asian households, and used regularly for colds, pollution and cosmetic recovery. Our masks are NOT N95 certified, and should be considered a physical barrier for sneezing and colds … but they are not medically certified.”
Many have also highlighted the irony behind the fashion acceptance of donning on face masks for photo-opportunities and using them as fashion accessories while Muslim women in Niqabs are consistently facing Islamophobic attacks.
They pointed to the trend of face masks at Paris Fashion Week as evidence of hypocrisy from French leaders, after France became the first European country to impose a ban on full-face veils in public areas back in 2011.
Many places banned the hijab and niqab only to be forced into covering their faces out of nessecity. Women wear the hijab out of choice & necessity too. #thinkIslam #hijab #niqab pic.twitter.com/50oDOyR6jr
— Yusuf Chambers. (@YusufChambers) March 8, 2020
The WHO advises people to frequently wash their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or warm water and soap, cover their mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing and avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough.