A handgun sits on a blue table with a mug of tea on the corner.

As a Nation, We Have Chosen To Use School Shootings To Advertise Bioré Strips

There’s a TikTok video (which has now been taken down) currently making the rounds on multiple social media platforms. In the video, a young Michigan State University student and influencer discusses her anxiety. “Life has thrown countless obstacles at me this year,” she says, walking down a sunny sidewalk, jumping rope, and working out at the gym. “From a school shooting to having no idea what life is going to look like after college.” She talks about the terror of experiencing a shooting on campus, and then goes on to explain that Bioré pore strips—you know, the Band-Aid-looking things you use to pull blackheads out of your nose—is “stripping away the stigma” of anxiety for Mental Health Awareness Month.

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That’s right—the video about school shootings is actually an ad for Bioré strips.

Like I said, the influencer has already taken the video down, and I’m not interested in sending hordes of trolls to harass a college student. One Twitter user saved the video here, if you really feel the need to see it.

But I don’t blame the influencer herself. I did some pretty stupid stuff in college. A shooting survivor should have the leeway to work through her trauma in whatever way makes sense to her, even if that leads to phenomenally bad decisions like this one. She shouldn’t have to worry about the optics of her own grief.

But the fact that this video made it onto the internet, even if only for a few hours, has much deeper implications.

We use school shootings to sell beauty products now

My fellow Americans, this is who we are as a nation. This is what we do now. We use school shootings to sell beauty products.

Because let’s get one thing straight: Bioré’s “strip out the stigma” campaign, or whatever they’re calling it, isn’t a mental health campaign. It’s a marketing campaign. To take part, consumers use Bioré’s filter on their own videos and then tag other users. Bioré doesn’t care what mental health issue you’re dealing with; they just want to make sure their brand name is on your TikTok videos. If Bioré actually cared about mental health, they’d be addressing treatments and root causes (like, you know, the absolutely ghoulish number of mass shootings each year).

Shootings have become so commonplace, so normalized, that they’re used as advertising fodder. Our children are massacred, conservatives put guns on a pedestal, and survivors are now encouraged to put their trauma in service of the same capitalist systems that proliferated guns in the first place.

Mass shootings shouldn’t be such a fundamental part of American life that they’re mentioned in the same breath as graduating college. American culture is gravely ill.

Even aside from the guns, I’m sick of brands taking responsibility for basic human rights

Mental health is a human right. Basic safety and well-being are human rights. Traumas like school shootings shouldn’t be allowed to occur in the first place, but if they do, the resulting mental health issues should be handled by a robust and compassionate healthcare system that’s accessible to all. Not a cosmetic PR campaign that encourages people to try to overcome their struggles by themselves, with a TikTok filter.

If you ever wondered what a capitalist dystopia looks like, look around you. Everything is a commodity. Everything is marketable. Our culture is not simply okay with horrific, unspeakable violence. It’s eager to put that violence to use selling pore strips.

Hey, if you’re lucky enough to survive a shooting, your PTSD may go untreated for the rest of your life—but at least your pores will look okay.

(featured image: Kelly via Pexels.com)

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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>