Gender

Haredi children’s magazine blurs image of Nikki Haley

Five presidential hopefuls are shown on the debate stage — but the only woman in the photo is blurred

An image from the Circle magazine with Nikki Haley blurred out

Nov 15, 2023 5:00 PM

Updated: 

A magazine geared toward Haredi children blurred a picture of presidential candidate Nikki Haley.

The Circle, a weekly English-language magazine published in Lakewood, New Jersey, circulates internationally to a broad range of young readers. According to its website, the magazine publishes “riveting fiction,” “enriching nonfiction,” and other secular and religious content. The website invites potential subscribers to avoid “spending hours censoring your kids’ reading material.”

A page in the Circle magazine with Nikki Haley's image blurred

An image in the Circle’s Nov. 13 issue shows five Republican presidential candidates standing on the stage for the Nov. 8 debate. Haley, the only female candidate of the five, appears vaguely as an orange and white shape.

In most Haredi publications, except for those coming from the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community, pictures of women are not shown. Some Haredim have defended the practice as avoiding sexualizing women, though critics have argued that, in practice, removing women from photos does exactly that.

The most notable instance of a Haredi publication removing women from photos was in 2011. That year, the White House released a photo of federal officials — among them then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — receiving updates regarding the killing of terrorist Osama bin Laden. The weekly Hasidic newspaper Di Tzeitung published a version of the photo edited to look as if Clinton and another female official in the picture were not present there at all.

The cover of the latest issue of the Circle magazine

Shoshana Keats-Jaskoll, the founder of Chochmat Nashim, an organization that fights against the erasure of women from public view, told Shtetl, “Girls will never think they can aspire to be a famous scientist or politician or maker of history,” Keats-Jaskoll added that blurred images have a negative emotional effect on girls who see them. “These statements that a woman can’t ever be modest enough to be seen leave deeply entrenched messages in a young girl’s mind that often show up later in poor body image and shame.”

Adina Sash, who describes herself as an Orthodox Jewish feminist and is known on Instagram as Flatbush Girl, told Shtetl in May that she thinks it’s harmful to cover images of women without doing the same for men. “When gender becomes the determining factor, we feed into a cultural tolerance for objectifying and sexualizing females, which will inevitably result in gender-related abuse,” Sash said. “The female body becomes unnecessarily charged with sexual innuendos.”

When reached by Shtetl, an editor at The Circle declined to comment on the record. The Haley campaign did not immediately respond to an email from Shtetl.

Lauren Hakimi is a journalist whose work has appeared in The Forward, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, New York Jewish Week, WNYC/Gothamist and more. She graduated from CUNY Hunter College with degrees in history and English literature. Hailing from an Iranian Jewish community on Long Island, she looks forward to shining a light on stories that matter to the Jewish community. Follow her on Twitter @lauren_hakimi.