In ancient Rome, persona meant ‘a mask’ and the word mask came via French masque and either Italian maschera or Spanish máscara and its possible ancestor is the Latin (not classical) mascus, masca which means “ghost”. In modern terms a mask is an article worn on the face, typically for protection, concealment, performance or amusement.
The fetish appeal of masks is founded on their enduring powers of pretence and play. For a submissive a mask hides his or her likeness beneath an undifferentiated screen that indicates their captive state. It is for the dominant that the real influence of a false face can be found. For them the correct mask can combine, simultaneously, the hiding of personal identity with the promotion of a powerful and intimidating image. Any obvious indications of enjoyment or vulnerability are obscured; it is the assumed persona that prevails.
I felt anonymous behind the catwoman disguise but my most significant features loomed large in the lens of the camera. My huge and hungry eyes stared out of the slits cut in the mask and my rich, pouting mouth appeared beneath it like the homicidal promise of a sensual predator. The photographer shrunk back as I felt a different Venus flaunt her power.
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Photography by Sebas Romero.
This post is also available in: Spanish