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Culture

A mom complained about Highlights magazine showing kids in masks. Their response was perfect.

masks, highlights, children

Bethany Mandel wants Highlights to stop reminding her kids they're in a pandemic.

We're heading into year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we're all ready to be done. That doesn't mean we are done, of course. The virus and its various mutations don't give a flying fig how we feel, and with a new variant knocking on our door, we're still knee deep in mitigation measures to try to keep our healthcare system from sinking. That means vaccines, limiting group gatherings and, of course, masking in public places.

It's hard to believe that there are still anti-maskers at this point in a viral pandemic, but here we are. And not only do some of these folks not want to wear masks, they don't even want to see people wearing masks.

A mom on Twitter even went so far as to call out the popular children's magazine Highlights for including illustrations that show children wearing masks. Bethany Mandel shared a photo of a page of the magazine that showed a child playing the piano on a stage and kids in the audience behind the piano wearing masks. She also shared the email she sent to the editor of the magazine.


"Stop with the mask illustrations," the subject line reads before the blunt opening, "Christine." (Christine French Cully is the magazine's editor-in-chief. I recall being taught to address professionals in a business letter with a bit more courtesy, but perhaps Mrs. Mandel's education omitted such things.)

Then she voiced her complaint:

"I understand the objective here: to normalize masking young 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.

Best

Bethany Mandel"

If you think the complaint seems rather asinine considering we've been wearing masks for two years, you're not alone. Many, many snarky comments followed, but Highlights responded with what is probably the most perfect reaction.

In a tweet, Highlights wrote:

"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."

Simple, straightforward and honest. Including a quote from a child reader was a beautiful move, as was creating a sense of solidarity in the last line.

Mandel may think her kids want a magazine that will let them escape reality, but that's not what Highlights has ever been about. It's about helping kids become "creative, caring, curious, and confident." Part of being caring during a pandemic is wearing a mask to protect others. Part of being confident is dealing with challenges head-on, which is what we're doing when we listen to infectious disease experts and follow their advice.

Seeing reality reflected in an illustration is not going to harm kids. Masks are not evidence of a broken world—they are evidence of our collective efforts to mitigate a deadly pandemic. If anything, they are symbols of hope, of humans doing what they can to protect one another.

So much of this comes down to what we are choosing to teach our kids. My own kids have remarked more than once how happy they are to see people wearing masks at stores, how it makes them feel like they're surrounded by people who care and who are smart enough to follow the guidance of public health experts. Nobody likes wearing masks, but we understand why they're necessary.

We all want this to be over. But that won't happen if people keep ignoring the measures that can help us get there and denying the reality of where we are now.

Identity

Celebrate International Women's Day with these stunning photos of female leaders changing the world

The portraits, taken by acclaimed photographer Nigel Barker, are part of CARE's "She Leads the World" campaign.

Images provided by CARE

Kadiatu (left), Zainab (right)

True

Women are breaking down barriers every day. They are transforming the world into a more equitable place with every scientific discovery, athletic feat, social justice reform, artistic endeavor, leadership role, and community outreach project.

And while these breakthroughs are happening all the time, International Women’s Day (Mar 8) is when we can all take time to acknowledge the collective progress, and celebrate how “She Leads the World.

This year, CARE, a leading global humanitarian organization dedicated to empowering women and girls, is celebrating International Women’s Day through the power of portraiture. CARE partnered with high-profile photographer Nigel Barker, best known for his work on “America’s Next Top Model,” to capture breathtaking images of seven remarkable women who have prevailed over countless obstacles to become leaders within their communities.

“Mabinty, Isatu, Adama, and Kadiatu represent so many women around the world overcoming incredible obstacles to lead their communities,” said Michelle Nunn, President and CEO of CARE USA.

Barker’s bold portraits, as part of CARE’s “She Leads The World” campaign, not only elevate each woman’s story, but also shine a spotlight on how CARE programs helped them get to where they are today.

About the women:

Mabinty

international womens day, care.org

Mabinty is a businesswoman and a member of a CARE savings circle along with a group of other women. She buys and sells groundnuts, rice, and fuel. She and her husband have created such a successful enterprise that Mabinty volunteers her time as a teacher in the local school. She was the first woman to teach there, prompting a second woman to do so. Her fellow teachers and students look up to Mabinty as the leader and educator she is.

Kadiatu

international womens day, care.org

Kadiatu supports herself through a small business selling food. She also volunteers at a health clinic in the neighboring village where she is a nursing student. She tests for malaria, works with infants, and joins her fellow staff in dancing and singing with the women who visit the clinic. She aspires to become a full-time nurse so she can treat and cure people. Today, she leads by example and with ambition.

Isatu

international womens day, care.org

When Isatu was three months pregnant, her husband left her, seeking his fortune in the gold mines. Now Isatu makes her own way, buying and selling food to support her four children. It is a struggle, but Isatu is determined to be a part of her community and a provider for her kids. A single mother of four is nothing if not a leader.

Zainab

international womens day, care.org

Zainab is the Nurse in Charge at the Maternal Child Health Outpost in her community. She is the only nurse in the surrounding area, and so she is responsible for the pre-natal health of the community’s mothers-to-be and for the safe delivery of their babies. In a country with one of the world’s worst maternal death rates, Zainab has not lost a single mother. The community rallies around Zainab and the work she does. She describes the women who visit the clinic as sisters. That feeling is clearly mutual.

Adama

international womens day, care.org

Adama is something few women are - a kehkeh driver. A kehkeh is a three-wheeled motorcycle taxi, known elsewhere as a tuktuk. Working in the Kissy neighborhood of Freetown, Adama is the primary breadwinner for her family, including her son. She keeps her riders safe in other ways, too, by selling condoms. With HIV threatening to increase its spread, this is a vital service to the community.

Ya Yaebo

international womens day, care.org

“Ya” is a term of respect for older, accomplished women. Ya Yaebo has earned that title as head of her local farmers group. But there is much more than that. She started as a Village Savings and Loan Association member and began putting money into her business. There is the groundnut farm, her team buys and sells rice, and own their own oil processing machine. They even supply seeds to the Ministry of Agriculture. She has used her success to the benefit of people in need in her community and is a vocal advocate for educating girls, not having gone beyond grade seven herself.

On Monday, March 4, CARE will host an exhibition of photography in New York City featuring these portraits, kicking off the multi-day “She Leads the World Campaign.

Learn more, view the portraits, and join CARE’s International Women's Day "She Leads the World" celebration at CARE.org/sheleads.


Health

Over or under? Surprisingly, there actually is a 'correct' way to hang a toilet paper roll.

Let's settle this silly-but-surprisingly-heated debate once and for all.

Elya/Wikimedia Commons

Should you hang the toilet paper roll over or under?



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Humans have debated things large and small over the millennia, from the democracy to breastfeeding in public to how often people ought to wash their sheets.

But perhaps the most silly-yet-surprisingly-heated household debate is the one in which we argue over which way to hang the toilet paper roll.

The "over or under" question has plagued marriages and casual acquaintances alike for over 100 years, with both sides convinced they have the soundest reasoning for putting their toilet paper loose end out or loose end under. Some people feel so strongly about right vs. wrong TP hanging that they will even flip the roll over when they go to the bathroom in the homes of strangers.

Contrary to popular belief, it's not merely an inconsequential preference. There is actually a "correct" way to hang toilet paper, according to health experts as well as the man who invented the toilet paper roll in the first place.

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Joy

Mom tells 9-year-old daughter to 'smile more' for school show and instantly regretted it

'Afterward, I regrettably said the one thing that no female *ever* wants to hear. "Try to smile more."'

Anniesgotabun Tiktok screenshots

Mom tells her daughter to smile more and instantly regrets it.

There is one request that unites all women and girls no matter their political affiliation or socioeconomic status, and that's telling them to smile when they're just minding their business. Think of it like a fairly universal "don't" when interacting with women, unless you're a photographer hired to take their photo.

A mom on TikTok found herself reaping the consequences of telling her 9-year-old daughter to smile when she was rehearsing a performance for her school. To say her daughter was not amused would be an understatement. The mom, whose TikTok name is Anniesgotabun, shared a video before and after her daughter's performance.

The caption of the video read "mistakes were made" complete with the facepalm emoji and the hastag #parentingfail. In the first part of the video you can clearly see her daughter going through the motions of the musical production looking unenthusiastic. The mom explains her error via text overlay explaining "my daughter had her final rehearsal for the school musical yesterday."

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Some girls out at a bchelorette party.

A recent story posted on Reddit shows how sometimes trusting your gut can be the best thing you can do, even if following it will seriously impact your friendships. It all started when a 24-year-old woman with the username Yslbabycat went to a bachelorette party with 5 other friends in Italy.

For brevity’s sake, we’ll call our main character YBC.

One night, the six girls went bar and club hopping and met some new friends. “We met some young people, and they invited us to a party. We went and danced and met more people. The night kept going on longer, and we were very far from our lodgings. These young men with 2 women in their group told us to stay with them for the night,” she wrote.

That’s when she had the first strong gut feeling.

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Brielle Asero lost her job after 2 months.

TikTokker Brielle Asero, 21, a recent college graduate, went viral on TikTok in October for her emotional reaction to the first day at a 9-to-5 job. The video, which received 3.4 million views, captured the public’s attention because it was like a cultural Rorschach test.

Some who saw the video thought that Asero came off as entitled and exemplified the younger generation’s lack of work ethic. In contrast, others sympathized with the young woman who is just beginning to understand how hard it is to find work-life balance in modern-day America.

“I’m so upset,” she says in the video. "I get on the train at 7:30 a.m., and I don't get home until 6:15 p.m. [at the] earliest. I don't have time to do anything!" Asero said in a video.

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Family

Single dad receives letter from late wife and immediately gets a DNA test

"She wrote a letter for me before she died, but I couldn’t bring myself to read it until now."

A devastated man sitting by the ocean.

Ten months after a man’s wife passed away, he finally got the courage to read a letter she left him, which contained a devastating admission. The 4-year-old son they had together may not be his.

“My ‘darling’ wife passed away 10 months ago,” the man wrote on Reddit’s Off My Chest forum. “She wrote a letter for me before she died, but I couldn’t bring myself to read it until now. She told me how sorry she was that she didn’t have the guts to tell me this to my face when she was alive.”

In the letter, the wife revealed that there was a “good chance” that the son he thought was his wasn’t his biological child. A few weeks before their wedding day, the wife got drunk at her bachelorette party and had a one-night stand with another man. Soon after that night, she became pregnant but was unsure who the father was.

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Cage for reviving canary, with oxygen cylinder, made by Siebe Gorman & Co. Ltd, London.

These days the phrase "canary in the coal mine" is used to refer to any early warning sign of trouble or danger, but it's based in the real history of canaries being used in coal mining. Miners would carry the songbirds into the mine with them as a makeshift carbon monoxide alarm, as the bird's small body would be impacted by the odorless gas first, giving miners time to evacuate before it built to deadly levels.

Many if not most of us probably assume the canaries used for this purpose gave up their lives to save the coal miners. As it turns out, that was not always the case.

In fact, the man who created the canary in the coal mine system went out of his way to make sure the birds could do their job safely.

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