NEW YORK — An influencer who survived a school shooting mentioned the tragedy in an ad for a skin care company and both came under fire. Cecilee Max-Brown, who attends Michigan State University, and Bioré, the company she was promoting, have apologized after Max-Brown's TikTok video about the brand's pore strips went viral.
In the video, Max-Brown says this year has "thrown countless obstacles" at her, including a school shooting and "having no idea what life is going to look like after college." She appears to be referencing the February shooting at Michigan State, where a gunman opened fire on campus, killing three and injuring others.
In the ad, Max-Brown then goes on to say in support of Mental Health Awareness Month, she is partnering with Bioré Skincare to "strip away the stigma of anxiety."
The TikTok video has been removed from the influencer's page, but was captured and shared by others before it was deleted. Many criticized the choice to mention a school shooting while promoting a product.
Max-Brown posted a new video on TikTok on Monday – this one, a written statement in which she says she is "so sorry" about the partnership video, which was "strictly meant to spread awareness about the struggles that I have had with anxiety since our school shooting." She said the ad was not meant to say the Bioré strips helped fix the struggles she's had.
"I did not mean to desensitize the traumatic event that took place as I know the effects it has had on me and the Spartan community," her post continues.
Bioré apologized last week, writing in a statement that they have supported influencers who experience anxiety and other mental health conditions for four years by amplifying their stories.
"Our consumers have told us that mental health is one of their biggest priorities, and it is so important for us to be able to provide meaningful support to them around this issue. This time, however, we did it the wrong way. We lacked sensitivity around an incredibly serious tragedy, and our tonality was completely inappropriate. We are so sorry," the statement reads.
Bioré also said it was their mistake and they "own it."
Max-Brown, who has 27,700 followers on TikTok, often posts about makeup and skin care on social media, and, like many so-called influencers with large followings, is paid by companies to promote their products.