An elementary school is getting called out for its bizarre, gendered facemasks that it asked students to wear.
Prof. Catherine Lebel tweeted a picture of the facemasks that her eight-year-old daughter was given last week, saying that the kid was “irritated” that they were given “girl masks” and “boy masks.”
While the “boy masks” were solid blue, the “girl masks” had hearts and kisses on them.
8 yo daughter came home irritated today about the “girl masks” and “boy masks” that were distributed to her class. pic.twitter.com/AwgXCrFeMA
— Catherine Lebel (@CatherineALebel) September 2, 2020
Lebel lives in Calgary, Canada and she said that her daughter called the masks “stupid” but the child was “not hugely upset, just annoyed.”
“I am irritated by this, but not outraged,” Lebel told the Daily Mirror. “Certainly this is not the biggest thing we have to worry about right now, and I am glad to see the school providing masks.”
“However, it seems unnecessary to promote gender stereotypes and I think it’s important to call them out when I see them.”
“We try really hard not to talk about things being only for girls or boys and I really want kids (not just my own) to grow up with a sense of equal opportunity.”
On Twitter, commenters were particularly bothered by the kisses on the pink masks.
Agree, the lipstick kisses have the casual tacit suggestion of sexual availability and it's gross that young girls are being given them to wear.
— Fi (@FiJustaperson) September 4, 2020
The masks were designed by Old Navy and distributed by the government of Alberta to public schools.
“The sole goal of the masks is preventing the spread of COVID-19, not fashion statements or political agendas,” said a spokesperson for the province.
Lebel said that her kids already have masks and will be wearing those.
Lebel is a radiologist at the University of Calgary and her current research involves studying people who were pregnant during the pandemic in Canada to see if self-isolation will have longterm effects on their children.
“It is foolish to dismiss the prenatal period,” she told National Geographic. Her research has already shown that pregnant people this year report higher rates of depression and anxiety, which she believes will have lifelong effects on their children.
“Twenty years from now, we’re going to see higher rates of depression and anxiety than what we did in previous generations.”