The Covid-19 Mask Mandate Ugliness Index

Yet Another of My Amazing Hand-Drawn Charts. Signed, even.
  • The Hypothesis Formation
  • The Googling
  • Beauty and the Mask
  • My Take on Outliers
  • For The Love And Security [Blanket] Of Masks
  • How To Fight Back

The Hypothesis Formation

Good Sunday morning to ya from south Phuket island, Thailand. This post began as a whimsical thought just an hour ago as I noticed that it was unusually sunny, clear, and calm as rainy season begins to draw to its close. So I decided to hop on my GPX cafe racer—sporting neither helmet nor mask—and ride the 3KM up the hill to Promthep Cape, the southern tip of the island.

Then I continued on back down to Ya Nui beach, then up and over the next hill lookout again, over to Nai Harn beach. That latter hill with its snaking road up, over, and down is a popular daily walking routine for many Thais, tourists, and expats alike; and, I enjoy mildly buzzing them on my cycle at high revs and off-the-gas backfire pops. Never too close, though. Stay safe. Some of the regulars wave at me now, as I usually do this a few times per week if it’s sunny in the morning hours.

Also, the walkers are never wearing masks, so you get the full human experience of seeing humans as their natural selves—from ugly to beautiful to hot and sexy. …And then I get back down to the mundane Mordor, with nearly everyone with their security blankets wrapped around the lower half of their faces.

This got my weird and bright mind—behind my ugly face with its big-though-thin nose—thinking: ‘what if there’s a strong correlation in terms of enthusiasm for wearing masks and mask mandates, depending upon whether one is perceived as ugly or beautiful?’

This calls for “writing juice.”

The Googling

Once I got back—writing juice, club soda, and a bag of ice in my backpack—I poured one into my coffee cup since it’s still morning and I have a sober and serious, non-masked appearance to maintain amongst the hoi polloi. I sat down at my research and writing station, dove in, and it was mere seconds this time around. Often, I really have to dig, especially if it’s anything to do with Covid—since Google “search” only wants you to “find” the usual cheerleaders…

Turns out, I’m not the only one who ever had this idea. Accordingly, I got some really prime shit without hardly trying and then I was effing enthused; I was off and running.

To sum it up, I got two very applicable articles and even a very enlightening study published in, no surprise, the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery; you know…the people whose profession it is to deal with appearance anxiety and insecurity pretty much exclusively. I’d wager that fixing legitimate mars and scars is a small percentage of their work.

Think about that. We all know about the insanity-insecurity that goes into those who just can’t get enough body preening—from piercings and tattoos to hilarious enhancement surgeries. But what happens when the very same insecurities en masse drive a public policy as a lesser alternative to those more extreme obsessive-narcissistic insecurities?

Beauty and the Mask

Temple University’s College of Public Health published a piece in August of 2020, when we were a mere 5 or so months into the insanity that’s still with us 14 months later.


See? I hit pay dirt right off the bat.

COVID-19 is changing our appearance in public, and researchers are beginning to examine the social implications of a world where we interact with our faces partly covered by masks. Now a new study shows that people are judged to be more attractive when wearing face masks covering their nose and mouth.

In the study, by researchers from Temple University’s College of Public Health and the Center for Human Appearance at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, photographs of 60 faces with and without wearing surgical-style masks were rated on attractiveness. The study used a racially diverse set of male and female faces from the Chicago Face Database, a resource available to scientific researchers. Face photos were evaluated by approximately 500 individuals recruited and compensated through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing platform.

The faces, first without masks, were categorized as “unattractive,” “average” or “attractive” based on their average ratings. Then they were rated again, this time with surgical masks digitally added. With the masks on, attractiveness ratings of the faces improved in statistically significant amounts for both women and men. The study, titled “Beauty and the Mask,” will be published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – Global Open.

“Many people believe that the appearance of the eyes is one of the strongest influencers of judgements of attractiveness. This study suggests that aspects of the lower face, which are covered by masks, also play an important role in perceptions of attractiveness.” said David B. Sarwer, associate dean for research and director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple’s College of Public Health, who collaborated with Viren Patel, Daniel M. Mazzaferro, and Scott P. Bartlett of Penn’s Center for Human Appearance.

Whoa. Now to the study itself. Beauty and the Mask.

The practice of using face coverings for the nose and mouth, whether with homemade fabrics or with surgical masks, undoubtedly has effects on facial perception. Although emotions such as intense fear can be communicated with contraction of the muscles of the brow and those around the eyes, communication of genuine happiness requires contraction of the muscles around the mouth, which is unlikely to be seen behind a face covering. Additionally, the lower half of the face, and specifically the perioral area, has been shown to be vital for determinations of attractiveness. In the 1980s, Dr. Leslie Farkas, widely recognized as the father of craniofacial anthropometry, sought to define the facial measurements and proportions associated with attractive faces. When comparing attractive and unattractive faces, Dr. Farkas found that the greatest differences in facial measurements and proportions were centered around the perioral area, including but not limited to a narrow philtrum, a wider oral commissure distance, and a greater protrusion of the upper vermilion. With this in mind, it is interesting to consider how masks concealing the lower half of the face would affect perceived attractiveness, which has been shown to influence judgments of a range of interpersonal characteristics, such as competence and trustworthiness.

The results data is organized into a chart.

To easily unpack this for you, the bottom-line, two most important rows are the percent improvement and percentage significantly changed. That’s where the meat is.

  1. Very very similar for both males and females
  2. Ugly people were judged over 40% MORE ATTRACTIVE!!! with a mask than without a mask
  3. 100% of ugly people were judged more attractive with a mask (average 42% better for both males and females)
  4. For beautiful people, masks actually lowered their attractiveness rating slightly, though statistically significantly (see the *).

The big takeaway is that the ugly of the world have found a little something to level the playing field. Another takeaway is this was never ever about health and those who’re constantly celebrating masks because of their dubious effectiveness, at best, are very likely dishonestly hiding their true personal motivations. You knew it all along, didn’t you? There just had to be something more to this…

My Take On Outliers

The first thing to be clear about is that none of the foregoing actually substantiates my original hypothesis. To do that would require a similar starting method: you take a bunch of unmasked faces and have a bunch of other people judge their attractiveness, just as was done in the study. Then, you take your face-subjects and interview them all about their own attitudes, compliance, and positions on mask mandates. Perhaps you run a corrected-adjusted-data thread were you also ask them how they judge their own attractiveness. I’m no statistician—though I was marked an A in my Statistics 201 class at Oregon State—but I think that would be an interesting inclusion.

I’d stake money that the data will show what my hand-drawn chart at the top shows, and it will be hugely statistically significant; meaning, can’t be error or chance. I.e., it’s real and it both explains and exposes a lot.

…I’m an extreme outlier because personally, I judge myself a pretty ugly duckling with a big nose. I was self-conscious about that up until about the age of 13, met and surpassed puberty, and quickly learned it didn’t fucking matter. I had already developed some competencies, was developing more, and in some measure, could kick ass on the sporting fields as well—performing well in basketball, soccer, and especially, baseball (0.465 batting average…but this was private high-school stuff). Nobody in the small social circle could ever beat me—kids or adults—in chess or ping-pong. When my parents moved me to a private, church-community school midway through 7th grade, I was unequivocally the smartest kid in the school and graduated high school that way. A 4.0 GPA throughout. And it was fucking easy.

Most importantly for those formative years, I learned that in spite of my weird appearance and big nose, chicks liked me. At various times, I counted as my girlfriends the three most desireable at school—Barbara, Holly, and Wendy. Barbara was the first, but I was still doing the stupid needy routine, and she dropped me—only to later become a victim of sexual abuse from her first husband, a pedofile. I dropped the other two after a few months. Wendy showed me her private bits when my interest began to wane. Looked, didn’t touch.

Consequently, I couldn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about my appearance: masked or unmasked. The only thing that interests me is not wearing ridiculous clothing in public, keeping my body composition reasonable, and morning wood.

That covers the outlier aspect in terms of ugly people who still can’t stand masks and mask mandates and never did or could for a microsecond since day mutherfucking one.

How about the beautiful people who love and embrace them?

Well, since I’m not a hunk, I can only guess. My guess would be that their beauty has afforded them privileges throughout life that are completely natural. It is simply a fact of life that beautiful people are treated better by default anywhere personal interaction prevails. This is one reason why in the business world, face-to-face meetings have always been a must. It plays a crucial hierarchy-sorting role on many different levels. Ironically, perhaps, the Internet has played a huge playing-field-leveling role for a couple of decades now, where written communication prowess is key. Now that we’ve gone to Zoom video meetings, perhaps not as much free juice for the ugly good written communicators amongst us. All speculations.

I think where the real outliers in terms of beautiful people who adore masks occurs is where their beauty and some measure of competence has landed them positions of prominence; where, then, all that’s involved and necessary in maintaining the prestige simply trumps their desire and willingness to show their face.

Maintaining the prestige and prominence requires all the conformity and virtue-signalling they can bring to muster. They’re weak and often enough, incompetent people who simply learned how to recognize it, take confident advantage, and then maximize their natural beauty with minimal real effort. I don’t blame them, though on the other hand, I have super respect and admiration for naturally beautiful people who nonetheless work their butts off in pursuit of competencies that they master.

For The Love And Security [Blanket] Of Masks

Here are the people who love wearing masks. And not just because they want to avoid covid-19

What a find in Amazon’s Newspaper, The Washington Post (here’s the archive link). I’m just going to quote pretty much the whole damn pathetic-enlightening thing as a series of anecdotes that signal, ‘Yep, Richard got it spot-fucking-on during his morning motorbike ride.’

…But for others, the widespread use of masks has made the past year one of liberation.

With a mask, you can sing in the grocery store, talk to yourself on a walk, grimace in the gym, leave the spinach in your teeth, have coffee breath, forget lipstick — and no one is the wiser. Oh, the savings on Altoids and L’Oréal this past year!

Folks on social media write little odes to the masked life:

“I love wearing a mask. I want to do this forever. It has helped my social anxiety so much.”

And: “Wearing a mask is really letting me be ugly in peace. I love it here.”

One librarian much loved by local kids on the West Coast said she loves being able to go to do errands without being recognized by her tiny fans.

Amid half a million lives lost, financial ruin and social devastation that the coronavirus has wrought there are teeny tiny glimmers of good things this cruel virus has left us. The normalized use of masks is one of them.

“I don’t think I could ever go back to not wearing a mask,” said Donna Bauer, a “40ish” Twitter maven in Orlando. (Masks hide the laugh lines, so why not run with it? “40ish” it is, Donna!)

“I like not catching colds, not wearing makeup and not being noticed,” Bauer said. “So even vaccinated and with herd immunity, I’m still going to be hiding behind it.” […]

My 16-year-old son made me think about this.

Yes, he’s a teen who comes with all the familiar afflictions of his gender and age, that misanthropic streak that makes him roll his eyes when I’m chitchatting with store clerks.

He’s a polite and well-spoken kid when he has to be, but I didn’t consider that social graces aren’t easy for him.

“I want to keep wearing a mask after this is over,” he told me. “I can just go and do my thing, and I don’t have to interact with people. It’s liberating.”

Hmm. Interesting. And I realized the small and guilty exhale my mask has granted me, too.

At first, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told us we should be wearing masks, I went through an exhausting pantomime, gesticulating with my hands and eyes, Marcel Marceauing my way into people-pleasing kindness during interviews, grocery checkouts, oil changes because those thick masks hide so much.

Eventually, months into this, I began giving up the exaggerated act. And sometimes, it felt good.

But there are also the folks who’ve spent their lives stared at by others because of physical differences in their faces, and who now are finding relief from these first judgments.

“Wearing a mask means people can’t see my facial tics, and I love that,” said Pietra Pereira, 19, a student in San Diego.

“I’ve always chewed on my tongue ever since I was a kid,” Pereira said. “I also have a lot of facial acne that masks hide. Acne so bad that random people I meet on the day-to-day feel the need to comment on it and give me advice, as if I haven’t been to tons of dermatologists.”

“I feel much less self-conscious out in public when I’m wearing a mask,” she said.

Ariel Henley found that a lifetime of standing out with her asymmetrical face and what she described as “crooked, wide-set eyes” from a craniofacial condition changed once masks became standard during the pandemic.

“Covering my face changed how I was treated in public,” she wrote in The Post last year. “During a recent visit to the post office, I stood in line behind strangers, all of whom also wore fabric coverings on their faces, and for once the most noticeable thing about my appearance was not my misshapen eyes but the vibrant colored mask that did all but cover them. I was grateful for the sense of anonymity and the chance to blend in that wearing a mask provided.”

Conni Bullock, 66, found the same comfort in being able to cover half her face without being stared at.

“I started wearing a mask as soon as Dr. Fauci advised the nation to do so,” Bullock, of Mattituck, N.Y., said.

She has Stage 4 breast cancer, and the anti-nausea medicine she takes to help with chemotherapy treatments gave her another condition, one affecting the nervous system — tardive dyskinesia.

“Mine manifests as constant contortions of my mouth and tongue twirling,” she said. “I was mortified to go out in public.”

Which is sad, because Bullock has a beautiful, wide-open smile and sparkling eyes.

Wearing a mask made her feel comfortable being around others again and gave her “great solace.”

And people can still see that dazzling smile of hers — they see it in her eyes.

How To Fight Back

OK, to be clear, this is not about whether or not anyone ought to be free to wear a face covering or not. I don’t give a fuck. And, I can understand the very sound reason for doing so, for some.

…Back when I lived in a loft development in San Jose, CA one of my friends—an older woman—kept having recurrences of her cancer which was manifest in her mouth, jaw, tonge, etc. Awful. When she finally gave up the endless chemo and surgeries, she stayed home, and in the months before her death wore a face covering because the cancer and surgeries had eaten away and cut away half her cheek, jaw, and tongue to one side. That’s a true indignity from which to spare one’s self. I was damn sorry to see the old dyke go and I missed her shit-talking and finger-pointing me. I spoke at her funeral.

The issue here is whether the rather mundane fears, insecurities, and plain weak-ass patheticism of a bunch of ugly or mentally-retarded fucks—who can’t accept the parameters of their existence, come to terms, and move on—ought to apply to you, my ugly ass, or to society in general—so their worthless asses can feel all keen, wrapped in their security blankets.

You have to have gleaned by now that all of the foregoing means that for most proponents, this plausibly isn’t really about health or Covid-19 aerosol virus spreading. It isn’t even about masks, per se. It is about covering the lower half of your face and the benefits that delivers to a whole class of weak-ass, lazy and insecure people: the ugly and average amongst us. Now they get their cause célèbre.

Of course, everyone who’s not particularly attractive knows that damn well, whether admitted or not. They also know damn well that they are almost never bestowed carte blanche from strangers anywhere. Accordingly, since the study outlined above clearly shows that on average, the ugly are afforded 42% more attractiveness creds right off the bat—the average a mere 20%—they must have picked up on this real quick, like within days or weeks.

We’re not fighting about whether or not masks are effective against the spread of Covid. We’re fighting about whether those with their security blankets wrapped around half their faces want to stand out even more than they did while being ugly—by still wearing a face covering when almost no one else is, anymore.

It would be like advertising to the world that you’re ugly, insecure, weak-ass, or all three. So, that manifestation of pathetic misery dearly wants to fight to keep its company as yet another direly needed measure of security.

A word about kids. It’s a necessary right of passage for kids to get shit on by other kids for anything and everything and the less attractive you are, the worse it comes down. Kids are honest, they haven’t learned the art of living a lie, yet, and so they are almost deliciously fucking brutal. We must all experience that. Now, it’s being denied them. What a bunch of weak, wanking, pussy-ass crybabies we’re setting ourselves up for.

…Henceforth, I will never discuss the pros and cons of mask effectiveness. That’s a con by its chief proponents. I already couldn’t be guilted or shamed by it, but now I have a better response.

“You know what I find far more interesting than the endless arguments at the tiny margins of whether masks work or not? I read this study and it turns out that 100% of ugly people are perceived as more attractive with masks by almost half. And that’s not all. About 75% of those perceived as average are perceived as more attractive with a mask by about a quarter, with males actually edging out females. Now, if by any chance you understand what i just said, there’s your big numbers.”

Fuck off with your masks. That is all.

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Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Steve on October 3, 2021 at 15:19

    Ergo what I said about the use of masks in Thailand. I’m sure it’s not about Covid as there were a lot of people who wore face masks BEFORE Covid arrived. So don’t expect to see faces too soon.

    I must say, your diagram drawing skills continue to improve!

    • Richard Nikoley on October 3, 2021 at 23:43

      I may have to create NFTs out of my fantastic drawings.

  2. Natasha on October 3, 2021 at 23:10

    This past 18 months, soon to be 2 years no doubt, the #1 thing I have missed are smiles. The whole face. I have an Art History degree (dumb, I know). The best faces aren’t “beautiful” but the ones with something behind the face. This article was brilliant. When the face is hidden, I think the imagination takes over, fills in the blank and comes up with something “better” than reality. The blending of fantasy with reality, does not bode well for the future of humanity.

    It’s a crazy world Richard. It makes me smile to read about your life. I’m so glad you left SoCal. Keep being free.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 4, 2021 at 07:10

      Because I’m farang, Thai toddlers always look and stare at me when I’m out and about. I always give them a big bright-eyed smile and hold it and I always get a big smile back. If out shopping where I have to have a mask (I try to avoid shopping like the plague…would rather order food via Grab, SE Asia’s Uber Eats) I pull it down.

      We are in the depths of dire evil to be discounting the value of this mutual human experience amongst strangers.

  3. Resurgent on October 3, 2021 at 23:40

    This ‘Maskdemic’ has repercussions far beyond hiding perceived ugliness. It has some serious effects on the cognitive development of toddlers. Several studies and many psychologists have warned. Including a study from the NIH. Some links below:

    Of course – when this began to go mainstream, CNN and their experts had to tell us, move on, nothing to see here..

    • Richard Nikoley on October 3, 2021 at 23:46

      It astounds me what serious down stream implications from messing with basic humanity so many are willing to trade away for their short term goals.

      We ought to have learned this already with Soviet and Chinese communism thinking they could change basic human motivation.

      (OH, BTW, your Comment went to mod queue because of number of links)

  4. Tim Steele on October 4, 2021 at 23:09

    I’ve worked with people daily for almost 2 years now, and I have never once seen their entire face.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 5, 2021 at 05:04

      I’d go with the presumption of ugliness.

    • Natasha on October 5, 2021 at 11:19

      Great to “see” you Tim! Sigh, I thought Alaskans were more practical than this. Canadians aren’t much better.

      What do you think? Do we need a Potato Hack for the Covid-pounds? Nat. 😁

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