From Lady Gaga to you: the masks we wear

Lady Gaga is known for some of the wildest costumes and makeup ever conceived, as are the rockers of Kiss and Lordi (Eurovision song-contest winner). These performers put on fantastic masks as part of their act. But did you know that all of us wear masks and costumes in our daily lives as well as part of our own “act”? These are tied to the roles we play in life -- such as the parent, the co-worker, or neighbor – also called “personas” which literally means “the masks we wear.” With each persona, we put on a certain behavior and costume, such as a business tie, suite or dress; and women quite literally paint a mask onto their faces -- their daily makeup – in an effort to show their “best face.”

Many of these masks are set by society without us being aware. But if you wear a social mask, then what are you really portraying? A reflection of yourself? Or some social ideal?

Until you become aware of these masks, you really have no say in this and simply stay a pawn in the great play of society. But don’t you want some choice in this? Don’t you want some control over your live?

If so, then start by becoming fully aware of your masks and choose how to portray yourself. Then your costumes and makeup become part of the life story that you are “making up,” that is, consciously creating.

Lady Gaga is a great example for this. She wears these outrageous costumes and makeup; costumes that clearly break the mold of the social mask. But this is not an accident: she does so on purpose. She consciously designs these masks to be part of her life-story which she is ‘making up.’ Is this an act? Or do they really reflect who she is? Only she may know. I tend to believe the later; they help her project a character that she feels comfortable with: herself. She is authoring her life story.

Your story is different. Maybe you like some Gaga-ness in your life, or maybe not. Just become aware of the masks you already wear and why you do so. Be conscious of your choices, then exercise them and be OK with them. That’s the lesson to take away.

So ask yourself:

  • Where in your life are you playing some role, wear a mask, put on special clothing or makeup that is some sort of mask?
  • And who is that person that this masks projects – is that really who you want to be?
  • Do you like yourself wearing that mask? Or not?
  • Or has that mask become part of your favorite “character.”
  • If you don’t like it, could you eliminate or change it so that it is a better fit for you?
  • If you do like it, in what ways does it help you to strengthen the roles you love in your life?
  • What effect do you want this mask to evoke in others?
  • What attributes do you ascribe to yourself when you play that role and wear that mask? Such as “I feel good about myself,” “I look good,” or for a business person, I am in charge,” etc.
  • And finally, think about if you could bring out these attributes “more naturally.” Could you change something in your behavior to achieve this, all without wearing this mask?

Most of all, create a choice about your life, and act on it.

Find more info about the daily roles and masks we wear in my books “The Steps of Essence” and “Be True, Be Happy.”

Bet True!
Hanns-Oskar Porr
Copyright Hanns-Oskar Porr, 2012

Comments

Hanns-Oskar Porr's picture

Just as a side note, “the makeup department” on a movie-set is called “Maske” in German; again we find this sense of masking yourself.