The Masks We Wear

We wear masks for many reasons: for fun, for protection, or to make a statement. In turbulent public settings, obscuring one's face can protect an individual from retaliation while evoking fear and uncertainty in others. Donning the mask of a cultural, political, or religious figure can lend that person power and further his or her legacy. Those who wear masks to protect their faces from environmental hazards may also end up sending a message of caution to outside observers. In many cases, though, masks play a more lighthearted role, allowing the wearer to take part in a festival and become someone (or something) else for a time. I've gathered here a few recent images of people wearing masks, covering their faces for a wide variety of reasons.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Lewis Hine / Library of Congress

    Child Labor in America 100 Years Ago

    In 1908, photographer Lewis Hine traveled across the U.S. to document child laborers and their workplaces. His portraits were used by reformers to drive legislation that would protect young workers or prohibit their employment.

  • Noah Berger / Reuters

    Tinder Dry: An Early Start to Wildfire Season in the West

    Wildfires have already burned more than 1.6 million acres in Alaska this season, and blazes in Washington, Oregon, and bone-dry California have scorched thousands more.

  • David Gray / Reuters

    Australia's Great Barrier Reef at Risk

    The health of the largest living ecosystem on Earth is in danger, and UNESCO World Heritage delegates will announce on Wednesday whether they will place the Great Barrier Reef on a list of endangered World Heritage sites.

  • Joshua Roberts / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 6/20-6/26

    Surfers waiting for a wave at sunset in Chile, the San Juan festival in Spain, erupting volcanoes in Indonesia and Chile, an anti-U.S. rally in North Korea, a gorgeous sunset over Boston’s Fenway Park, celebrations of same-sex marriage supporters in Washington, D.C., and much more.

Join the Discussion