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Say Hello To Maskfishing, Your Latest Pandemic Dating Insecurity

Photographed by Camille Mariet.
The pandemic changed a lot of things in our lives — we don't need to tell you that. The way we work, the way we shop and the way we date has been drastically altered, as has the way we view ourselves and others.
For greater public health safety, we have collectively added face masks to our rotating wardrobe staples. The fabric that covers half of our face may cause some of us grief (maskcne, anyone?) but wearing one has been recommended by most Australian state governments.
Besides being a champion in minimising COVID-19 outbreaks, the humble face mask has, for better or for worse, created a new phenomenon in dating: maskfishing.

What Is Maskfishing?

Maskfishing refers to when someone wearing a face mask appears to be more attractive with it on than they are without it.
The term's name comes from 'catfishing,' the practice of deceptively creating a fictional persona or fake identity using images that are not your own on social media.
"Where a person appears to be more attractive because they are wearing a face mask," reads an Urban Dictionary definition. "A maskfish is someone that is essentially a catfish, so someone who looks really good based off their eyes and other visible features, until they take their mask off," reads another.

How Does Maskfishing Impact Dating?

A masked-up selfie says a lot on a dating profile. While it might signal that a potential suitor has public health front of mind to some, others find the practice misleading. In 2020, hookup site AdultFriendFinder implemented a 'No Maskfishing Mandate' which prevented users from posting masked photos.
Over on TikTok #maskfishing boasts over 336 million views. Most videos sitting under the hashtag are part of a trend where users post footage of themselves with their mask on, along with comparison footage with it off. Accompanied by the question, "Am I mask fishing?" other TikTok users are expected to weigh in in the comments section.
@kkathy_69 all of them get a 10/10 from me #maskfishing ♬ nadia is the best - nadia

Is Maskfishing Making Insecurities Worse?

Comments along the lines of "You look different to what I thought" and "I would've never guessed that your bottom half looked like that" have made many people insecure about their facial features and 'imperfections'.
"When I was at work and my colleagues saw me at lunch or break time, they used to always say that I don't look how they expected, but I don't know if it was in a good way or bad. Since then it has made me really self-conscious about people seeing my face because I don't want to ruin their expectations," reads one Reddit submission.
Masks haven't been the only proprietor of insecurity and self-image issues. It's been found that Zoom fatigue is worse for women — and researchers attributed "self-focused attention," the self-view in video calls, as one of the main causes.
It's the latest in the many dizzying dating terms infiltrating our pandemic-affected lives. While insecurities have long been a part of our existence, this latest maskfishing trend may have unnecessarily baited us all — hook, line and sinker.
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