A mother wrote a heated letter to Highlights magazine over the depiction of children in masks as being somehow normal, but what really set things on fire was a response claiming a kindergartener drew masks on kids in catalogs because they look “weird without them.”
The mom who started the stir is named Bethany S. Mandel. She tweeted a letter to Highlights that stated, “Stop with the mask illustrations. Christine, I understand the objective here: to normalize masking your children. That is not a message I’m sending to my kids. Masks are a temporary situation and on their way out the door. Getting these magazines with mask illustrations is a reminder of the broken world we live in.”
“We get your magazine to be an escape, not a reminder of the reality we’re forced to be living right now. I am planning to screen future issues, and if more of this content is present, we will be trashing them and canceling our subscription,” Mandel forcefully concluded.
Highlights responded via a tweet, stating, “We want our readers to see themselves and their experiences in our magazines, so we’ve included masks and acknowledgments of the pandemic to help support kids. As one child wrote to us, ‘Kids need to know that they are not alone.’ Like you, we hope that this will be over soon.”
A parent proceeded to respond to the thread with what many consider to be a disturbing trend, “My friend’s kindergartner draws masks on the kids in catalogs because they look ‘weird without them.’”
We want our readers to see themselves and their experiences in our magazines, so we've included masks and acknowledgements of the pandemic to help support kids. As one child wrote to us, “Kids need to know that they are not alone.” Like you, we hope that this will be over soon.
— Highlights (@Highlights) December 15, 2021
My friend’s kindergartner draws masks on the kids in catalogs because they look “weird without them” pic.twitter.com/y8k1w17UCE
— KDOrganizer (@KDOgGetPOd) December 15, 2021
Mandel replied in a tweet to the parent, “This is not making the point you think it is.”
Mandel’s no wallflower either. Leftist journalist Soledad O’Brien branded her as a “grandma killer” in 2020 for her stance on COVID mandates and ventilators.
*we can call you Grandma Killer.
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) May 6, 2020
To which Mandel fearlessly clapped back, “You can call me a Grandma killer. I’m not sacrificing my home, food on the table, all of our docs and dentists, every form of pleasure (museums, zoos, restaurants), all my kids’ teachers in order to make other people comfortable. If you want to stay locked down, do. I’m not.”
You can call me a Grandma killer. I’m not sacrificing my home, food on the table, all of our docs and dentists, every form of pleasure (museums, zoos, restaurants), all my kids’ teachers in order to make other people comfortable. If you want to stay locked down, do. I’m not.
— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) May 6, 2020
Here is what Highlights said in 2020 over the mask depiction issue:
Last spring, when the pandemic hit in earnest and much of the country was staying safer at home, our readers let us know that their current reality wasn’t being depicted in Highlights and High Five. They wondered why the children in illustrations and photos weren’t wearing masks or why families weren’t shown practicing social distancing. “Our kids need to know that they are not alone in this,” one reader’s mother told us. “My child expected Highlights to acknowledge and support her efforts to be responsible,” wrote another. We wrote back and explained that because of our long lead times and the suddenness with which the world changed, it would take a few months before we could show on our pages these new, important health practices.
And when we were finally able to begin incorporating these ideas into Highlights, we started to receive complaints of a different sort. We heard from other loving parents who took a different view of the issue. They worried that we were frightening their children and trying to normalize behavior they didn’t feel should be normalized. They objected to our portrayal of what they felt were unnecessary practices. A few subscribers sent us links to sites discussing the wearing of masks and disseminating points of view at odds with science.
We wrote back to these parents too, explaining that we believe children deserve to see the world as it really is and that our current reality, when properly presented, doesn’t frighten kids. We explained that we see our magazines as more than simply entertainment. We work to create magazines that parents will find useful as they do their job of helping kids make sense of what they’re seeing in the world around them. We create content that inspires kids to be their best selves and suggests a call-to-action to kids who, despite their youth, can make a difference.
People on Twitter thought the whole ‘kids in masks’ thing was just sad:
That’s really sad. I hope their insurance covers therapy.
— Scarlett 🍸 (@fledtothesouth) December 16, 2021
This is so sad. Poor kid. Poor kids. What is society forcing on them? What will be the outcome down the road? Serious psychological ramifications here.
— Dakota Case (@DakotaCase5) December 16, 2021
This is one of the saddest things I’ve seen in a long time.
— Shari (@sharimacm) December 16, 2021
That’s not healthy.
— Clark Joseph Kent (@ClarkJosephKe13) December 16, 2021
That is terrifying.
— Josh the Amazing Animator (@JoshAnimator) December 16, 2021
Children learn and mirror what they see others. They aren’t able to mirror facial expressions if they don’t see them. Who knows how this will reflect the next generation. I can only guess it will be mental health-related.
— Frances Murray (@colorofresil) December 16, 2021
If we ever get out of this mess, it’s going to take a lot of work to save the kids.
— Junson Chan 🇺🇸 (@realjunsonchan) December 16, 2021
We think the current generation has mental health issues? The next generation is going to be completely unhinged
— Kimberly Morin (@Conservativeind) December 16, 2021
Notice how it isn’t just a mask… the kid’s also ‘coloring’ over the eyes, removing as many identifiable features as possible.
Strikes me as rather disturbing, regardless of my stance on masks.
— Grenthblood (@Grenthblood) December 16, 2021
Does that include their eyes? Because those are crossed out too… & def not normal.
— Kayla Rae (@kayraecurcio) December 16, 2021
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