Mask-Fishing: Heightening Teenage Insecurities


Kaitlynn Trinnh, Staff Writer

If you’ve been on any social media platform recently, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “mask-fishing”. Mask-fishing is considered to be another form of catfishing and is the activity of “deceiving” others with a mask to appear more attractive.

Adolescence is the age, ten through nineteen, where insecurities about social image increase exponentially. At this tender age, teenagers are prone to worrying about their physical appearance and are more susceptible to social anxiety. 

Ever since the start of COVID-19, wearing masks has been, for the most part, mandatory. Although the mask mandate has recently been lifted, most people are still wearing their masks. From my personal experience, I’ve observed that people have become increasingly comfortable wearing masks, and the ulterior motive of wearing one is to conceal any prevalent insecurities. Although mask usage can also be used as a precaution against COVID, the majority of teenagers have become rather attached to their “shield,” heightening their concern about removing their masks.   

Some of my friends have formed a fear of taking their masks off, even during lunchtime at school or when they’re participating in physical activities, because they are scared of being perceived as mask-fishing. The mask-fishing plague is not only an insecurity riddling my friend group, but people around the world. Countless teenagers doubt their appearance because of the mask, and are all plagued by the fear of being deemed unattractive. The mask causes teenagers to doubt their appearance. Though insecurities are normal for a teenager to have, mask usage has extensively formed new insecurities, adding to prior insecurities.

Slowly, I have also succumbed to the fear of removing my mask. Being repeatedly told, “you look so different without a mask on” has deteriorated my self-confidence little by little. In addition to seeing my peers wear masks at school, I feel pressured to wear one more so for social reasons rather than health reasons. Like teenagers worldwide, I can easily understand why we are all uneasy about removing our masks.

Because of masks, people tend to imagine what the covered half of someone’s face looks like. Simply put, masks are raising other people’s expectations. By being unable to see past a facial covering, people assume how the other looks in the best way possible: an image that aligns with their beauty standards.

The pandemic has changed our psychology in how we perceive the wearers of masks. When we see someone wearing a mask, we no longer think ‘that person has a disease, I need to stay away’..masks [make] people more attractive because they [direct] attention to the eyes,” claimed Dr. Micheal Lewis from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology.

Therefore, adolescents are worried that if they remove their masks, others will perceive them as ugly because their eyes “deceive” others. The phrase “mask-fishing” should become outdated. The mask only skews our expectations of others and contributes to heightened social anxiety and insecurities. 

Although masks allow teenagers temporary “freedom” from the scrutiny of public judgment regarding their appearance, masks are destructive in the long run. Masks are only a temporary barrier between teenage insecurities and reality. Masks are not permanent, similar to any other article of clothing. As a result, adolescents are becoming increasingly distanced from reality and are growing dependent on masks to feel attractive. 

In this viral TikTok video, an influencer comments on how people are afraid to show their bare faces because of the notion of mask-fishing. Many comment on how they’re affected by the toxic perception behind the mask. However, people should look at “the mask” from a bigger perspective. Everyone is constantly concerned about how others perceive them, when in reality, we’re all too busy worrying about ourselves to notice others. Humans are self-conscious creatures. Perception and judgment are ideals that are naturally ingrained in all humans, hence why we’re so worried about our physical appearance. 

Although masks help decrease COVID-19 cases, they simultaneously increase teenagers’ anxiety and can be socially detrimental to them in the long run. The term “mask-fishing” needs to be terminated because its negative connotation only harms people’s self-esteem. Everyone should feel confident and comfortable in their skin and be free from the judgment of others. Constantly worrying about the perception of others won’t help anyone grow. Learning to accept that some things are out of our control is essential to gradually gaining more confidence and learning individuality. 


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