Tokyo discount store Takeya has launched a “smile campaign” with staff wearing masks emblazoned with photos of their smiling grin. Honestly, they look kinda creepy. This is a good idea and in a terrible, most unusual year, I appreciate the sentiment. But...yikes!
I’ve worn masks in the past due to seasonal allergies, but now because of covid-19 I’m wearing one all the time. While masks have been key, I think, in helping to keep Japan’s novel coronavirus cases lower than they might have bee—and certainly should be worn—one frustrating thing is they inhibit non-verbal communication. Namely, it’s not possible to convey a smile.
Takeya’s idea to put staffers in smile masks certainly does make the shopping experience seem more friendly—though, yes, it’s rather odd, unnerving even, to see everyone smiling all the time. According to Takeya, even though you cannot see it, staff end up smiling more while wearing these masks.
On Japanese TV one customer said the masks looked “unique”, while online people have expressed their gratitude for the sentiment, but added that they thought the masks looked “scary” and “creepy.”