Masks are Exotic, Erotic and Seductive
Welcome to an exploration of Masks and why people wear them. From Masquerades to Masked Balls; masks are mysterious and magical. The wearing of a mask makes us think of the Lone Ranger, Highwaymen, Batman or his adversary Cat Woman.
Superheros often wear a mask as a disguise. But I have never been convinced that the simple mask worn by the Lone Ranger, Zorro or Robin really hides their identity.
Masks are also about deception and can be exotic and erotic. A woman in a mask can be beguiling and powerful and her mask a tool of seduction and even domination of men. Perhaps this is why more women today are wearing masks!
Masks are traditionally associated with the theatre and performance or entertainment. They have existed since ancient times and are a key ingredient in ceremony, rituals, storytelling, and drama.
The mask as a Metaphor
We often use a mask as a metaphor for how we chose to present ourselves to the world. A child when putting on an animal mask pretends to be that animal. Shamans and medicine men often wear a mask in order to take on the persona of wild animals or beings from the spirit realm.
In the same way, when a woman dons an exotic feathered mask, it transforms her personality into something more mysterious, beguiling and exciting. We sometimes describe people as being two-faced. Wearing a physical mask gives us a new, second face. It is a vital part of dressing up and it should be no surprise that we find some sort of mask in many dressing up costumes.
The mask is also an integral part of the traditional Masquerade Ball, loved by the upper classes for centuries. Masks designed for masquerade balls originated in Italy, and are particularly associated Venice.
Today Masked Balls and Masked Proms are enjoying a revival. The attraction of wearing a mask at a ball is centred around disguise. People are no longer so recognisable and the there is more opportunity to caste off social norms and respectability.
Flirting with strangers becomes much easier and the fantasy of cheating on ones own partner, though present in the same room, becomes a real possibility.
There is something of the night about a mask, something decadent, dark and deceptive.
Masks can be made from a variety of materials including paper mache, metal or fabric and decorated with, for example, paint, gems or feathers.
As well as masks that are fixed to the face, there are also masks held against the face by a handle held below the head (stick masks).
Less mysterious but more practical and flexible, than a fixed mask, the stick mask empowers the mask wearer to suddenly metamorphose from one identity to another; hiding or revelling their true selves via a mere flick of the wrist.
Mask: Power and Domination?
Something of the power of a mask is portrayed in the Jim Carrie Movie, ‘Mask’ where putting on the mask brings about a Jeckle and Hyde transformation.
Women more often wear masks than men and women’s masks tend to be far more exotic and flamboyant than those worn by males. Perhaps Halle Berry’s portrayal of cat woman is one of the best illustrations of the power and sexuality of a masked woman.
The Dominatrix uses the same kind of black mask to dominate submissive men.
Masks therefore perform many functions. They are disguising, deceptive, alluring, teasing and seductive. They often empower the wearer and release the inhibitions of the masked individual.
Masks and Carnival
You can see this casting off of inhibition in the tradition of Carnival. Think particularly of the Notting Hill Carnival in London (imported from the Caribbean) or the fabulous carnivals in South America; for example, Rio.
Carnival typically involves a public celebration or parade combining elements of a circus, mask and public street party. People often dress up or masquerade during the celebrations, Carnivals are often linked to religious festivals such as Lent.
While the starting day of Carnival varies, the festival usually builds in exuberance, ending on Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
A Mask Challenge for You!
So are you tempted to don a mask? Or are you too conventional and inhibited? If you are up for it then why not choose an exotic mask to wear (you can find them online) for the next party you attend.
Why not dare your partner to attend a masked ball with you. You may both surprise yourselves and see your relationship transformed.
Alternatively, if you want to add a little spice to your lacklustre love life, then why not get home early, take an invigorating shower or a long soak in the bath. Next slip into the loveliest lingerie you can find. If you don’t have any lovely lingerie then it’s a great opportunity for some shopping!
Don’t forget those extra touches such as a generous application of sensuous scent to intimate places as well as stockings and suspenders. Now for the piece de resistance; put on a fabulously exotic mask (making sure it doesn’t clash with your erotic ensemble).
Finally arrange yourself seductively on the sofa and wait for your partner’s return. As with food, presentation on the plate is everything!
When he arrives, don’t say anything but just stare at him beguilingly through the mask. If you follow these instructions then I can guarantee you a delicious reception!
Kathe Jones from San Francisco Bay Area on October 04, 2017:
Just curious, how do you feel about a man dressing as a woman at a masked ball as long as he does not tell someone that he is a woman?
Gina Coole (author) from London on January 19, 2011:
tal - hoping your ambition to attend a masked ball is forfilled one day - thanks for stopping by.
talfonso from Tampa Bay, FL on December 28, 2010:
I attended one masquerade-type party, during my senior prom in 2008. I'm attending another a few days from now. I would love to go to a real masquerade ball, but I have to have a lot of cash!