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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Sustainable Prospects – Mirror or Mask?

“To think, for instance, that I have never been aware before how many faces there are. There are quantities of human beings, but there are many more faces, for each person has several. There are people who wear the same face for years; naturally it wears out, it gets dirty, it splits at the folds, it stretches, like gloves one has worn on a journey . . . But sometimes, too, it happens that their dogs go out with them on. And why not? A face is a face.”

– Malte in (Blostein, 2003: 142)

Masks are deceptive. We search for our identities through self-evaluation and examination. We also examine others in our quest to understand who we are ourselves. As Malte says “a face is a face” which undermines the link we place between appearance and identification. And a face is not merely a face, or at least not a truthful one. For most of us, it is many faces that we wear as masks.

We wear out our faces or they become obsolete as things change in our lives, and we have to replace them. This makes it difficult to show who we truly are; we have to see past these masks to identify and reveal what lies beneath.

Our relationship between appearance and reality is fragile. In today’s society, the self-portraits that we post onto our social media profiles are mirror reflections of how we want to be seen, not who we truly are. We apply filters and make-up to mask our faces. We then self-curate the images to ensure we are presenting a perfect life to the world. A life we would like to have and would like others to think we have. We smile, whiten our teeth, and then hide everything away from the world. So the mirror effect of the camera’s lens results in a masked image being portrayed. The self-portraits we post are then just representations of ourselves, and not who we really are.


Blostein, D. (2003). Mirror or Mask?. Berlin: Vistas.

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