Isaías Huerta of Puebla, Mexico, loves wrestling so much that when he retired from his days as lucha libre wrestler El Gato Gris (The Gray Cat), he turned to making costumes for his fellow fighters. According to EFE, after Huerta closed his shop due to the COVID-19 health emergency, he shifted once again—to face masks with lucha libre designs for his family. Soon, fellow luchadors themselves were asking Huerta to make them masks so they could stay in character during the quarantine. Now Huerta sells his colorful gear to the public, including commissions from fans, as Mexico made it mandatory for millions to wear face masks.
Hiding one’s identity with a mask has long been the province of superheroes, bank robbers, and trick-or-treaters. But no longer, as the pandemic has driven millions to don them by law or choice. It was perhaps inevitable that people would choose to reveal a hint of themselves even as they conceal. Some reflect a connection to work, while others honor sports teams or politics. Still more go for humor, creativity, or just plain style.
Atlas Obscura has gathered some images of face masks around the world that are vibrant, inventive, and expressive. Being faceless, it turns out, doesn’t mean having to hide one’s personality.