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. Once more, I've gathered here a few recent images of people wearing masks, covering their faces for a wide variety of reasons. [30 photos total]

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A protester opposed to the Burundian President's third term wears a mask near a burning barricade in the Kinama neighborhood of Bujumbura on May 25, 2015. (Carl de Souza / AFP / Getty Images) #
A participant of the traditional dirty pig festival wearing a Homer Spimpson mask wallows in a slough near Hergisdorf, Germany, on May 25, 2015. (Peter Endig / AFP / Getty Images) #
A protester, wearing a mask depicting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and dressed as a surf lifesaver calls for global equality among nations among other protesters outside the venue site of the annual G20 leaders summit in Brisbane, on November 14, 2014. (Jason Reed / Reuters) #
A man dressed as a devil performs during a Krampus show in the southern Bohemian town of Kaplice on December 13, 2014. Each year people in traditional costumes and masks parade through the streets to perform an old ritual to disperse the ghosts of winter. (David W Cerny / Reuters) #
A protester wears a mask made from a leaf in the Cibitoke neighborhood of Bujumbura, Burundi, on May 5, 2015. Protesters in Burundi dismissed a constitutional court ruling that cleared President Pierre Nkurunziza to run for a controversial third term. (Phil Moore / AFP / Getty Images) #
A London black cab driver wears a Mr Bean mask as he takes part in a protest against Transport for London (TfL) on May 26, 2015 in London, England. The demonstration, organised by United Cabbies Group, is claiming that cab drivers are let down by TfL refusals to enforce safety regulations on London mini-cab drivers. (Carl Court / Getty Images) #
A girl uses a welding mask to view a partial solar eclipse from Bradgate Park in Newtown Linford, central England, on March 20, 2015. (Darren Staples / Reuters) #
Members of Iraq's counter-terrorism force take part in an intensive security deployment in Baghdad's Al-Adel district on October 28, 2014. (Ahmed Saad / Reuters) #
Members of the Laufarji Ethnological Society dressed as traditional native characters named "Ta Terjast" pose ahead of the Carnival in Cerkno, Slovenia, on January 20, 2015. Slovenians and members of various ethnological groups celebrate the annual carnival, also known locally as Pust, by wearing traditional masks and costumes to symbolically "chase away" the winter. (Srdjan Zivulovic / Reuters) #
Tyler The Creator performs at the 2015 Coachella Music and Arts Festival on April 11, 2015, in Indio, California, (Rich Fury / Invision / AP) #
An Emirati girl wears a traditional outfit, worn in her village by elderly women, during the al-Gharbia Watersports festival near al-Mirfa beach, outside Abu Dhabi, on May 2, 2015. (Karim Sahib / AFP / Getty Images) #
A person wearing a Batman mask speaks prior to a City Council vote to increase minimum wage at City Hall in Los Angeles, California, on September 24, 2014. (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) #
A man in a rabbit mask poses for photographers prior to the Maison Margiela's fall-winter 2015-2016 fashion collection, as part of Paris Fashion week, presented in Paris, France, on March 6, 2015. (Francois Mori / AP) #
Frost covers the mask and part of the hat of a soldier of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) as he stands guard near the border of China and Russia in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, on December 10, 2014. (Reuters) #
Revelers dressed as 'machurreros', with traditional costumes and masks used in Carnival, parade through the streets during a gathering of different villages' carnival masks and characters in Pedro Bernardo, Spain, on March 21, 2015. (Daniel Ochoa de Olza / AP) #
A crew member stands in front of migrants waiting to disembark from the Italian navy ship Borsini in the Sicilian harbor of Palermo, May 5, 2015. (Guglielmo Mangiapane / Reuters) #
Revellers, dressed as "Mascaritas", stand during carnival celebrations in the Spanish village of Luzon on February 14, 2015. The "Diablos" cover themselves in a mixture of soot and oil and adorn their heads with black stained bull horns as they parade throughout the village with cowbells clanging around their waist to expel the evil spirits. To make their appearance even more fearsome the devils often carry fake teeth made out of raw potatoes. They dance around Luzon and smear their black grease on revellers faces. The only people free from the attack of the "Diablos" are those who dress up as "Mascaritas". They are characters dressed in traditional women clothing with their faces covered with a white cloth. To the beat of traditional music the "Diablos" and the "Mascaritas" parade throughout the village in the afternoon in this carnival tradition that is thought to have pre-Christian origins. (Sergio Perez / Reuters) #
A worker, wearing a face mask to protect against dust particles, pauses while arranging freshly cut stones at a quarry in the desert of Minya, southern Egypt, on March 18, 2015. Around 45,000 people work in an estimated 1,500 quarries, digging out stones that later will be used in construction or powdered to be used by pharmaceutical and ceramic companies inside Egypt and abroad. (Mosa'ab Elshamy / AP) #
An Israeli high-school senior poses for a photograph as he wears a mask during urban fighting drill as part of privately run military combat fitness training to prepare for national military service in Kibbutz Mizra, northern Israel, on March 24, 2015. (Oded Balilty / AP) #
A leader of Ukrainian Internet Party, a former Ukrainian presidential candidate, who uses a name and the costume of Darth Vader, rides an asphalt compactor as he repairs the road along with supporters in Odessa, Ukraine, on March 23, 2015. (Alexey Kravtsov / AFP / Getty Images) #
A boy looks at a penitent wearing a traditional Judea mask and colorful hat during the Calvario procession by the 'Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno and Nuestra Señora de la Piedad' brotherhood in Iznajar, Spain, on April 3, 2015 . (Daniel Ochoa de Olza / AP) #
Masked protestors wait in front of a window during a May Day rally at Okmeydani in Istanbul on May 1, 2015. (Yasin Akgul / AFP / Getty Images) #
A woman walks her child to school as he is dressed as a character from Minecraft in New York on October 31, 2014. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters) #
French twins Vincent (right) and Thomas Seris shop for food in a commercial center in Bordeaux, France, on November 12, 2014. Born with Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP), Vincent Seris and his twin Thomas cannot be exposed to the sun and its ultraviolet (UV) light, which could provoke precocious cancers due to a autosomal recessive genetic disorder of DNA repair. Colloquially referred to as Children of the Night (Les Enfants de la Lune) the Seris twins are among 70 to 80 people in France who suffer from the genetic defect. The French association "Les Enfants de la Lune" reports that there are between five and ten thousand such cases in the world. Thomas and Vincent have been testing a new protective mask for the last year which is transparent and ventilated and developed by several hospitals in France. (Regis Duvignau / Reuters) #
People throw turnips at the Jarramplas as he makes his way through the streets beating his drum during the Jarramplas Festival in Piornal, Spain, on January 20, 2015. Jarramplas is a character that wears a costume made from colorful strips of fabric, and a devil-like mask and beats a drum through the streets of Piornal while residents throw turnips as a punishment for stealing cattle. The exact origin of the festival are not known, various theories exist from the mythological punishment of Caco by Hercules, to a cattle thief ridiculed and expelled by his neighbors. (Daniel Ochoa de Olza / AP) #
A model wearing a creation by fashion designer Chi Zhang takes a rest at a rehearsal for Chi Zhang's fashion show in Beijing on November 22, 2014. Zhang said China's air pollution is one of his prime inspirations and the embellished images of gas masks and the phrase "Fxxk Air Pollution" are trademarks in his creations. (Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters) #
A protester stands in Trafalgar Square as thousands gathered in central London for the annual bonfire night protest led by the hacktivist collective Anonymous on November 5, 2014. (Paul Hackett / Reuters) #
A man wearing a mask makes his way during a polluted day at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on January 15, 2015, shortly after Beijing issued its first smog alert of 2015. (Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters) #
A reveler dressed as 'cucurrumacho' poses for a picture with traditional costumes and mask with bull's horns used in Carnival during a gathering of different villages' carnival masks and characters in Pedro Bernardo, Spain, on March 21, 2015. (Daniel Ochoa de Olza / AP) #
Yexibel Gainsa, 14, takes off a fencing mask during a class at the "Martyrs of Barbados" gymnasium in downtown Havana, Cuba, on December 4, 2014. About 100 students train at the gymnasium, which was named after 73 Cuban fencers, known as the "Martyrs of Barbados", who were killed in a 1976 attack when a bomb blew up a Cubana airliner in Barbados. (Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters) #

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