Mental Health is not a joke

Friday, August 14, 2015

One of my readers brought it to my attention that BioRepublic SkinCare, a company that Birchbox has worked with, posted earlier today on Instagram a meme with the statement "I wear makeup to distract you from my mental illness." They have since removed the image from Instagram but instead of apologizing the CEO, Paolo Mentonelli, sent me a threatening PM on my Facebook page.

Personally I don't find that meme to be funny at all since I have two sons that battle mental illness on a daily basis. Some days it's good but on the bad days... Let's just say the last three months (actually the last whole year) has been very stressful for my family. I found BioRepublic's meme absolutely distasteful and let them know that they should offer a public apology to those offended and donate $5,000 to a mental health awareness organization such as No Kidding? Me Too! or to any other organization of their choice.

Instead of a public apology the CEO contacted me to threaten me after I posted this on Birchbox's wall "Not cool BIRCHBOX. Not cool. Granted your company didn't post this but you do work with BioRepublic SkinCare." His PM to me:
Hey Zadidoll, We apologize for this post which was made in poor taste by an intern from South America who did not understand that mental illness is not something to joke about. She has been reprimanded and made aware of her mistake. Now to your mistake, you are distributing our intellectual property without our consent. You do not own the rights to that image and we would like to ask that you remove it immediately and stop harassing us with your comments. We're a small business of less than 10 employees, please direct your frustration elsewhere or we will be forced to take additional measures. Consider this a cease and desist warning.
For my long time readers, you'll know the second someone makes a threat towards me I'll play the game and so far I've never backed down.I took a look at their Instagram wall and saw they're using a Marilyn Monroe photo to promote their products. 
Go ahead and report me to Facebook. I'll be calling your company out to Birchbox and other companies. Oh and reporting your company to the Marilyn Monroe trust since you used a photo of her on your wall most likely without their permission. wink emoticon Consider THAT a warning from me.
Did I carry out my own threat? I absolutely did! I've contacted the Marilyn Monroe trust via their Facebook page and will be sending them an email.

After I sent him that message above he sent me an additional 17 PMs! (Note: some of the comments may over lap due to taking the screenshots with my cellphone rather than my PC.)

How egotistical of him to say I'm out to destroy his company. It wasn't about that it was about the fact his company posted a highly offensive meme that one of my readers brought to my attention - in fact the photo I shared on Facebook wasn't uploaded by me but by her. I've since saved the image to Imgur but it was her screencap that I shared. I didn't tell anyone to boycott their company but I did point out to Birchbox that I didn't find it cool at all.

Since then the CEO, using their company page, posted on Birchbox this reply (note you'll have to click on Edited since he has since removed the portion about intellectual rights):
We apologize for this post which was made in poor taste by one of our interns. Mental illness is not a joke. But neither is the theft of intellectual property, which you have done be using our image without permission.

Well the whole threat, and not just to me but to Denise who actually shared the image on my wall, about "theft of intellectual property" and "using our image without permission" made me do what I do best... track down who else is using that photo. Low and behold I quickly found a company called Vanguard Northlake who actually not only uses the image seen in the meme but another one that is similar. I have contacted them as well to see if they own the rights to the image or if it's stock that have a license for. If it's stock and if it's stock that BioRepublic did or did not obtain a license to use in the first place then it's still not their property. A license to use is just that and the owner of the image does not give away their rights to those who have a license to use the image. Taking the image off of the Vanguard Northlake site and using a cleaner image in Google's image search did yield an Italian photo stock company where the image may have been purchased from. It could have also come from any other number of stock companies however purchasing the license to use, as I mentioned before, does not grant BioRepublic ownership or intellectual property rights to the image when he is not the copyright holder.

I don't find BioRepublic's meme to be funny. I know many others - especially those who suffer from a mental illness or has a loved one who has a mental illness - don't find that saying funny. That particular saying "I wear makeup to distract you from my mental illness" has been around for a while but it's not funny and not funny from a company. To us it's not funny to see your loved one suffer. In many cases - especially when it comes to adults - all we can do is stand by because we can't do anything to help. The laws in the US prevent families getting help for their adult loved ones. This results in many people suffering or falling through the cracks. Many homeless people suffer from a mental illness, no not all but the countless many. Many people in jail or prison may also be suffering from an untreated mental illness and had they been on meds maybe just maybe they wouldn't have committed a crime. Many people murdered, and again not all and I'm not making an excuse for it, were murdered by someone with an untreated mental illness. With children who suffer from a mental illness parents go through hell finding someone who believes them and doesn't chalk it up to kids being kids or the parents are terrible parents or even they'll outgrow it. NO THEY WON'T!

To Mr. CEO of BioRepublic - you should never make threats towards a customers or even a blogger because it'll make you like a jerk. You should have simply apologized and left it at that. Now you've made yourself look like a bully and a jerk on social media which of course will remain online for a very long time. It didn't work for the CEO of PantyFly, Bondi, Red Carpet Box or Posh Pod and it won't work for you to be a bully.

Edit: While I was busy typing this the CEO has posted to their wall an apology of sorts.
Dear Facebook followers, some of you may have noticed a post that was published to our Instagram account today. Basically the post took a tagline from a “funny” meme and repurposed it with a stock image from our site. The original ecard can be found on with the same offensive joke. We obviously made a mistake with this post and we would like to apologize to anyone who might have been hurt or offended by the insinuation that mental illness is something one can or should cover with makeup. Mental illnesses and those who suffer from them (patients and their loved ones alike) are not to be taken lightly and deserve far more awareness than they currently receive. In spite of the fact that some of the online community wanted to accuse us of making fun of those who suffer from mental illness, this post was an honest mistake and there was never any intention to hurt or offend. We absolutely believe in treating those who suffer from mental illness with the same dignity and respect that all human beings deserve. Still, we made a mistake and we want to apologize to anyone who was hurt offended by this ill-advised post. We hope those of you who were upset can forgive us and at this point we just want to get back to doing what we love: formulating the best skincare products we can using the highest quality ingredients!
It's a half-ass apology since if you remember he stated that it was their company's intellectual property and I had no right to share the image but now the meme came from a Someecard's meme and they used a stock photo. Uh huh. Like I said, I know how to play the game, I called him out on it but unfortunately the damage done by him was done by him and him alone with his threats.

Edit to add links to various mental health awareness groups.

National Alliance on Mental Illness
Mental Health America
No Kidding!? Me too!


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