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MSU grad influencer apologizes for video referencing campus shooting

May 22, 2023

Skincare brand Bioré has apologized after receiving backlash for a promotional video referencing the Feb. 13 mass shooting that occurred at Michigan State University.

The video – posted last Thursday – was a partnership with MSU graduate and TikTok influencer Cecilee Max-Brown to advertise the company’s pore strips. Max-Brown has also apologized on her TikTok page.

In the video, Max-Brown, who has nearly 30,000 followers, said she was partnering with Bioré for mental health week to “strip away the stigma of anxiety.” 

“Life has thrown countless obstacles at me this year … from a school shooting to having no idea what life is going to look like after college,” Max-Brown said in the now-deleted TikTok. “I found myself recently struggling from seeing the effects of gun violence firsthand.”

Max-Brown said the shooting, where a gunman killed three students and injured five, left her with a “feeling of terror” for weeks and “countless anxiety attacks.” 

“Life continually changes and your thoughts will too,” she said in the TikTok. “Do things that make you happy … join me and Bioré skincare in speaking up about mental health.”

After receiving dozens of comments accusing Max-Brown and Bioré of profiting off of school shooting survivor trauma and minimizing gun violence, the video was removed 24 hours later.

Yesterday, Max-Brown posted a statement to her account apologizing for “desensitizing the traumatic event that took place” and “the effects it has had on (her) and the Spartan community.” The video, she said, was strictly meant to spread awareness of mental health struggles that she and other students have been dealing with.

"I take accountability for this and will ensure to be smarter in the future," Max-Brown said in the statement.

Bioré posted a written apology to their Instagram page

“We lacked sensitivity around an incredibly serious tragedy, and our tonality was completely inappropriate,” Bioré said in the post. “We are committed to continuing our mental health mission, but we promise to do it in a better way.”

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