Melania Trump went maskless in a group photo she posted this weekend. She shared the photo on Instagram and Twitter to mark the 73rd anniversary of the U.S. Air Force.
“Today we celebrate 73 years of the @usairforce!” Melania posted. “Thank you to all of our service men & women who courageously defend the American people, protect our freedoms & secure our skies.”
The pictures soon drew outraged responses from some observers. “When were these pics taken? I don’t see any masks,” one Twitter user replied.
Other tweeps lauded the First Lady, apparently seeing nothing wrong with maskless group photos in the midst of a pandemic. “Beautiful pictures! Class act, as always,” another tweeted.
Many critics were quick to respond to Melania’s photo with memes alleging that President Trump called deceased servicemembers “suckers” and “losers.” That claim, made anonymously in an Atlantic piece by Jeffrey Goldberg, has been hotly disputed.
The First Lady has drawn criticism for going maskless before. In August, she and others skipped wearing masks at a White House event to honor the 100thanniversary of the ratification of the 19thamendment. Karen Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway also mingled with the crowd sans masks, Business Insider reported.
At that event, the First Lady reportedly hugged and chatted in close proximity to multiple children in attendance. Critics said images from the event sent the message that masks aren’t necessary during the pandemic.
The First Lady at other times has promoted mask-wearing. In July, she tweeted a photo of herself wearing a white mask, and encouraged Americans to “remember to wear face coverings & practice social distancing.”
“The more precaution we take now can mean a healthier & safer country in the Fall,” she said.