Kerri Walsh Jennings Says Not Wearing a Mask During Pandemic Is 'Brave'

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing issues around the world, face masks are either required or recommended at major businesses and in public. Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings is aware of these guidelines but recently went on a shopping trip without her mask. She explained her reasoning with a social media post that kicked off some fiery discussions.

Walsh made a long post on Instagram and explained that she was going to upset some people with her comments. She said that her intention is never to hurt or disrespect others, but she is "working through these curious times." Walsh then revealed that she was "brave" and went shopping without a mask. Her reason, as she explained, was that she read a quote that "shook" her.

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"I had a little exercise in being brave yesterday & I'm still a bit edgy about it," Walsh wrote in her caption. "I went shopping without a mask on & this is why … I read a quote the other day that shook me — THIS HAS NOT BEEN ENFORCED, IT'S BEEN CONSENTED TO. This statement woke me up & the truth of it has had me obsessing on the matter of how I can mindfully & compassionately stand up for my rights & for the freedoms our constitution has granted us all WITHOUT being reckless or putting anyone else in danger."

Walsh went on to say how people complaining about the guidelines they are "suggested" to follow, aren't putting up any fights. She adds the manipulation has crushed the society, people's livelihoods, children's spirits and the fabric of the world. Walsh continued her post in the comments section and called for people to eat real foods, prioritize sleep and focus on their health in order to support their immune system.

Following these initial statements, Walsh's Instagram followers went into attack mode. Many fans said that they are "disappointed in her," calling her out for being selfish. Others said that the three-time Olympic gold medalist is placing her own life and freedoms above the lives of others.

Walsh responded to the comments with another post, addressing the vast opinions. She thanked those that were open to hearing her thoughts and praised the openness of others. Walsh also responded to those that called her "dumb, selfish, privileged, bigoted, and racist."

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"I fully acknowledge that addressing such an emotional, layered, nuanced and polarizing topic on social media was not the smartest thing," Walsh wrote. "Pages and pages could be written about every side of everyone's opinion, yet I went for it because I am alarmed for my country." Walsh continued and said that she spoke her point of view after seeing "conflicting and erroneous data from the experts" and that people should stop and take inventory of everything thrown their way in recent months.

Walsh clarified that she is not advocating for people to stop wearing masks and said that she regularly does. Instead, she said that her goal is advocating for critical thinking and civility, as well as personal responsibility. Additionally, Walsh sounded off about the state of the world considering that having a differing opinion "equates to evil and hatred."