Mythbusting #Digimeet Women Wear Masks


I've been thinking about this blog post for sometime and to be completely honest, I started to feel quite anxious. You see the truth is that I am yet to find my 'blogging voice'. For those of you who are seasoned bloggers, you may well be wondering why on earth I'm finding it so difficult to embrace this powerful learning tool. The answer is simple...fear, fear of getting 'it wrong', fear of getting 'me wrong'.  

If you meet me in person, you'll soon realise that I talk a lot and have plenty to say, often using humour and gestures to communicate my thoughts. I genuinely love being around people and I'm very comfortable putting myself out there. Perhaps this is my mask, though? For as soon as you put me in front of a blog, an opportunity to really show my authentic self, I become paralyzed with the fear.

So in sharing this with you, I'm removing my mask because you see, I believe that we are all capable of wearing one, both women and men. We are all capable of wearing one not for deception but to mask our vulnerability or to help us 'fit in' with the image that we feel others want from us. I could have written this blog and none of you would have known the discomfort it caused me and so in sharing it, I'm embracing the uncomfortableness that I felt; not hiding from it but instead trying to learn from it.

The Japanese say we all have three faces - which helps to explain where the notion of masks comes from.

In Fierce Conversations, Susan Scott talks a lot about showing others who your are within the conversations that we have- come out from behind the mask and make it real. This fits in with the third face - our true authentic self. Susan isn't only talking to women here, she's talking to men as well. However, women are often the ones who are accused of wearing a mask but I challenge this as being something that all human beings do, especially if there is an element of risk and being vulnerable. People wear masks in all manner of situations like a date or meeting someone new. I think it is more about being ok with who you are and understanding that with or without a mask - others will judge you. But that is ok. Uncomfortable but ok.

This notion of only women wearing masks is often down to the fact that we feel we have to battle so hard for our voices to be heard. We want to 'fit in'. Rarely are men ever subjected to so much scrutiny and judgement. If any masks get worn then it might be because women are made to feel as though they have to wear a mask to 'dumb down' their true selves but none of us should ever dim our light for anyone.

As women, we can often play down our light and one technique is to wear a mask. What if the REAL me isn't enough? Not smart enough, not witty enough. The mask is a form of protection and as humans, both women and men, it is a natural instinct to protect ourselves. The true issue here is the complex nature of identity for women because they have such a long history of being made to fit in to 'a role' and a status of what another wants (usually men) but sometimes other women.

However, I don't dismiss that men are equally as a capable of feeling the need to wear a mask. Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about whether or not men feel that it is acceptable to show their emotions and who they really are for fear of not being seen as 'manly'.

For me personally, the major point with regards to wearing a mask is whether or not you are ok with looking in the mirror without the mask. Your true self in all of its beauty. The third face - your truest reflection. This is important because that's the authenticity and integrity part. Not what others think.

Author Profile

Kathryn Morgan

Kathryn Morgan

Curious learner. Passionate teacher. Outward looking leader. CPD champion.

3 stories


Hannah Tyreman Hannah Tyreman @hannahtyremancpd 2 months ago
I wrote about mask wearing years ago as I realised how often I was wearing one. In fact, it was the first blog I ever wrote.

Your post has reminded me that I continue to, especially as I have transitioned into leadership. I think it's the ultimate bravery to reveal all of ourselves but I do think there's another dimension too- working out how to be ourselves in the most effective way. There are so many demands in the modern age- through books, blogs and our social network to be more, better, different... I suppose so many of us are trying to balance the line between everything effectively.

Thank you- you've made me think about this some more.
Kiran S Kiran S @kiran 2 months ago

You are one of the most authentic leaders I have met Kathryn. Thank you for overcoming your fears and writing a very important and insightful piece x x
A Alexander A Alexander @andream656 2 months ago
A wonderful blog piece Kathryn. I love that piece by Marrianne Williamson, use it loads in assemblies. Removing the mask is higher level leadership.
Annemarie  Williams Annemarie Williams @awilliams 2 months ago
This is indicative of what a brave and fierce soul you really are @kathryn22
By staying complicit and keeping the mask on we encourage others to do the same. Being an authentic leader such as yourself is helping us all to break the cycle
Julia Crane Julia Crane @julescrane 2 months ago
I hadn't thought about masks so explicitly before, though have been aware of different versions of myself. It's interesting to see how many faces we acknowledge in the blogs. Thank you!
Nicole  Fowles Nicole Fowles @nicolefowles 2 months ago
Well done @kathryn22 this is such a thought provoking issue and certainly links to being 10% braver. What is really interesting is when I have been faced with real challenges in the workplace and talked about them to family or friends, I have often had the question "They don't really know you well, do they? You would never do that". It has made me consider whether I have been showing enough of my true self in my first and relatively new experience of Headship. Why am I perceived as I am and why don't they know me well enough? All in all, it comes down to investing time and energy into relationships. To allow people to get to know who you are and to not be afraid of that kindness being abused in some way. This is an excellent blog and the fact you are so open about dropping your own mask gives us all inspiration and hope.
N x
Anna Ambrose Anna Ambrose @annaambrose 2 months ago
Really powerful inspiring words, thank you for sharing so truthfully Kathryn.
Hannah Wilson Hannah Wilson @misswilsey 2 months ago
Brilliant post @kathryn22 - you may have struggled to find your voice, but now you have it is there authentically singing your truth. I agree all of us wear masks. Thinking about @govclerk piece on dress codes and uniforms and this piece on vulnerability, how we show up makes me think about @vivg and the coaching work she leads. I don't wear a lot of make up, I don't often dry my hair, what I wear/ say/ do is pretty much the same wherever I am and whoever I am with. But the revealing of the emotional vulnerabilities is something I have and continue to work on as I was trained in an environment where emotions were a sign of weakness. We need to write out own PGCE/ ITT - imagine if entry teachers could explore all of these layers of self expression and identity before they stepped into the classroom?!
Kerry Jordan-Daus Kerry Jordan-Daus @kerry 2 months ago
Oh Kathryn, I love everything you say. You speak from the heart. You speak with such intellectual rigour. You speak to me and many women through this wonderful blog. Thank you.
Lisa Hannay Lisa Hannay @lisahan 2 months ago
Sounds (or reads) like you found your voice and it resonates with many readers on here. blogging births bravery I think.
Naznin Choudhury Naznin Choudhury @naz08 2 months ago
Excellent piece of writing Kathryn. Very inspiring
Jill Berry Jill Berry @jillberry 2 months ago
This is powerful stuff, Kathryn - and really well-written. I hope you recognise that you've ably demonstrated you do have a strong blogging voice, the capacity to show your vulnerability and be your authentic self in writing as well as in person. I think we can help each other by questioning our assumptions and the tendency we all have too quickly to leap to judgement. Let's give ourselves, and each other, a break and be KINDER!
Simon Feasey Simon Feasey @simonmfeasey 2 months ago
Your honesty and humility is something that defines you as a remarkable person, Kathryn. I have always said to my own children that they should seek to be extraordinary, rather than ordinary. Easy to say, and can be read as trite. Over the years, I have learned that what 'extraordinary' is, really is something that needs to be gauged and discovered by oneself. And you will likely never get there. I am not sure that I have. And yet, the real joy is in the striving to get there. I think you know where I am going with this because we have mused on this particular passage more than once...

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

George Bernard Shaw

What is for sure is that the path so defined by Shaw will lead to and through many a discomfort and self-reckoning; unmasking ourselves. Enormous courage needed. Often the first step is the hardest.

Thank you for making me think. Looking forward to your next blog.
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