Jarvis Cocker — British musician, actor, TV host, frontman for the band Pulp, my imaginary boyfriend — once said “I always find it very traumatic when I have to pick a new pair of glasses – it’s like picking a new nose.”

Those who are blessed with perfect vision might find that a bit hyperbolic, but I can assure you that my glasses are very much a part of me. So much so that many of my friends wouldn’t be able to recognize me if I wasn’t wearing my specs; apparently I turn into a wholly different person, the Clark Kent to my Super Magu. The point is, I believe that picking an accessory that will be on your face almost all of the time is no small thing, less so when our survival literally depends on it.

The use of face masks appears to be one of the main factors in this “new normal”. It is also probably the one I’m the least inconvenienced by (*listens to “Touch” by Daft Punk and Paul Williams, cries quietly*) once the issue of fogging up glasses is dealt with. Plus, I’m always happy to add new items to my already-quite-colorful wardrobe.

The pandemic hit us all very hard, and our favorite small businesses were no exception. But, in the words of Homer Simpson, “crisitunity!” Many brands rearranged their workshops and are now making face masks and other protective accessories in addition to their regular inventory. What better way to elevate your outfit than with a matching face mask? There are all sizes and colors. It’s like a corollary to the Internet’s rule 34: “if it exists, there is — or there will be in the future — a face mask version of it.” There are face masks for kids, for adults, disposable ones, reusable ones, colorful ones, sporty ones, funny ones, political ones, bleak ones, psychedelic ones — the options are limitless.

The personal is political.

Wearing a face mask isn’t something we do just because there’s a law that says we should do it. It’s something we do with the conviction that it helps protect us, and each other, from COVID. Choosing not to wear a face mask in public during this current time, aside from being extraordinarily reckless, is in of itself political stance. Personally, I gladly choose to wear one, and so I also choose to make it fit with my own sense of style, as well as my own personal convictions.

Below is a list of some truly beautiful masks you can purchase locally, many of which donate proceeds to worthwhile charities!

Cin Ledesma is creating custom face masks spreading the message that animals are your friends and not your food.

Barbuda, with their queer brand of out-of-the-closet empowerment, has released face masks featuring the LGTBIQ+ flag. They also added stamped face masks to accompany items in their collection. 

Cherrola, feminism and rockn’roll. They added to their inclusive wardrobe collection the “se va a caer” (“it’s going to fall” — referring to patriarchy) face mask. It’s currently in a second batch of production after the first sold out extremely quickly. Part of the proceeds will be donated to the Mocha Celis #tejesolidario initiative, which you can read about here.

Barbijo Verde is part of the national campaign in support of legal, safe and free abortion. It’s also a way to help Garganta Poderosa, a magazine and organization of villera resistance. All proceeds are meant to help the different food halls that are part of their #contagiasolidaridad network.

If you’re not feeling very combative, you can always “kill them with kindness”. Tienda Mamushka makes their most kawaii selection of fabrics and designs to make the cutest face masks in all of the land. 

Gabuleta exteriorizes a very popular sentiment with their current best seller, the “HARTA” (“fed up”) face mask, the people’s favorite. They also make all of their original stamps available in beautiful reversible face masks.

If we step away from the brighter side of life for a bit, we also have some options for our darker-minded friends.

Blackphemy has two styles of face mask. A basic one, and one that’s wavier and more ergonomic, always in its all-black style; for the serious-minded goth that lives in all of us.

Now, if your style is more capital-letter DARK, we also have something for you. Safety pins, leather, chains, and pentagrams. Notredamn Kaos Kouture did not hold back.

We also have Paula Pellegrini, who brings a more Haute Couture approach to things, creating a face mask that comes with its own scarf! Is this absolutely genius? Being naturally sensitive to cold, I think it is. They also use amazing fabrics; I suppose these will be the face masks we use when we’re invited to some gala event in the future.

And since life isn’t just about face masks, we also have full-face protective shields. Because if you’re going to protect yourself from COVID, you might as well go all out.

Beehat has what we know here as a “gorro piluso” with a protective shield, in child and adult sizes. In their catalogue you’ll also find a parka with a mask built into its hood, as well as a strange keychain that also works for performing tasks without using your hands. Mind blowing. 

In the hat/mask combo game we also have Agostine, who has three headgear models. Piluso, cap, and “old golfer hat,” all with a shield attached. 

Finally, we have what might be the most beautiful face mask in the world

Florencia Tellado is the brilliant mind behind the face mask of the hour. The favorite of celebrities. The one worn by the First Lady. The one I desire with all of my heart, but won’t purchase because it would make me sad to wear such a gorgeous piece of work to the office or the supermarket. This face mask is known as Mortal Kombat, and there are other styles, all named after video games:

The Mario Bros. Deluxe combo, consisting of a beret, face mask, and eye shield. 

Street Fighter II Turbo, which sports a cool facial shield and face mask.

And finally, Counter Strike. A sort of coif with an acetate mask attachment. Because, in times of pandemic, less is more.

The fact is, when we go back to living more-or-less normal lives, we’ll still need to protect ourselves. Maybe the best option would be to wear protective masks that still communicate a little bit about each of us, especially since covering our smiles can make us feel a bit disconnected from each other. So take advantage of this bizarrely unique occasion, pick the face mask that best shows your personality, and practice in front of the mirror until you can fully master that smize, as Tyra Banks taught us. Maybe we can learn something good out of all this. 

We might not be “picking a new nose,” but feeling safe as well as cute does help soften the trauma of this moment. But don’t tell that to Jarvis, as he might be planning to drop by and keep me company for a bit.