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OP-ED: In my world, real men wear masks

Camerone Parker
InsideSources.com (TNS)

Guys, I’ve got a message for you from all the immuno-compromised ladies (and gents) out here:

Real men wear masks.

I’m a model who has appeared in more than 350 magazines, the former face of Olay who walked the runways for designers like Vera Wang and Giorgio Armani.

I also have multiple sclerosis and related conditions that put me at high risk for the worst effects of the coronavirus. Which is why, even though I agree they aren’t necessarily an ideal fashion statement, I’m urging everyone to please wear your masks.

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Camerone Parker (InsideSources.com)

Where I live, in recently reopened Arizona, many people are saying they won’t wear a mask when they go outside because it infringes on their personal freedoms, or that it’s not a manly thing to do. “I don’t need to wear a mask if I don’t want to,” they say.

Well, you kind of do.

There are a lot of restaurants and places that say: “No shoes, no shirts, no service.” How about we start with: “No shoes, no mask, no service”?

Personally, I can’t go to a restaurant. I can’t take that chance.

I was diagnosed in January 1998 with MS. I was on a disease modifying drug for 21 years, before it destroyed my liver. I have a plethora of other auto-immune-compromised issues that are part of having MS.

Early on, my challenge of living with MS was a secret one. I didn’t want the modeling world to know what I was struggling with. I worked hard to keep my health issues under cover so I could keep appearing on the cover.

Today, it’s the opposite. I wish everyone would live as though they knew their neighbors had a health challenge and wear your masks.

The COVID challenges to health don’t end there. Last October, I suffered a “widowmaker” heart attack and had to have heart surgery. Now I need to have a second heart surgery, but I can’t. My procedure is being delayed because it is considered elective.

Why? Because in Arizona, hospital beds are near maximum capacity due to the surge in virus cases, and elective surgeries are rare.

I’m not saying any of this to complain, but to educate. Fashion is still very much a part of my life and one of the things I’m quite passionate about.

I know having all these medical issues may sound odd because I am a model. That’s yet another reminder not to judge a book by its cover. You don’t know what’s going on.

Real men are aware of that fact, which is why they are courteous and considerate. And having traveled all over the world, I’ve found that real men are good at making others comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

And real men are tough. They won’t let a little discomfort or annoyance stop them from doing the right thing.

In short, real men wear masks.

So mister, where’s yours?

— Camerone Parker has walked the runways for fashion designers Vera Wang and Giorgio Armani. She’s now a patient advocate for MS patients and their treatment. She wrote this for InsideSources.com.