hellorousseau

an eloquently warped point of view from the tongue of a cartoon character.

Tag: makeup

Pandora’s Purple Box: Part Two

PPB2

“All the makeup in the world won’t make you less insecure… Silly girl… ”        –Melanie Martinez, Sippy Cup


Tatiana Janovcik sits in the small, bustling Starbucks in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village district. Behind the 23-year-old student, the summer sun dips below the boutique shops, painting a vibrant sunset across the Canadian city.

Janovcik’s eye makeup is light and warm. A thin, steady line of eyeliner emphasizes her curled lashes. Her eyeshadow is neutral, but catches the coffee-house’s mood lighting with flickers of gold.

Despite her fresh face of makeup, Janovcik doesn’t wear any lipstick.

“I added up how much I lost,” she says after a sip of her drink. “It was $2,200. It was around that number.”

Janovcik’s long blonde hair is pulled behind one ear, brightening the dim shadow from across her sharp, blue eyes. In one hand, she holds a piece of paper; a letter.
A letter she’s read more than once.

Dear Tatiana Janovcik,” starts the note. Printed plainly on wrinkled, white paper, it bares a stark contrast from the sender’s normally neon attitude. “Lime Crime is writing to inform you of an incident involving personal information you provided…

tat

Janovcik sits with her Lime Crime letter and a rough tally of what was stolen after the company’s security breach.

For Janovcik, it’s not news that from October 2014 to February 2015, Lime Crime Makeup, a company owned by notoriously colourful & quirky CEO Doe Deere, faced a massive security breach that compromised the personal and financial information of thousands of their customers around the world.

Search ‘Lime Crime Scandal’ on Google, and you’ll be able to read the almost perfectly catalogued mass of hysteria & panic users faced when they realized their accounts had been allegedly drained;

or in Janovcik’s case, used to buy luxury plane tickets around the world.

“I got the first email for a flight confirmation in February, and I was like, ‘Well, this is really weird, but maybe it’s just spam,’” says Janovcik, who had only purchased her first– and last– Lime Crime product just a month earlier. “But then I had a friend over, and I was like, ‘Look how weird this email is!’ and he was like, ‘Okay, but does your credit card number end in blah, blah, blah?’”

Her lips curl into a smile and she lets out a light laugh, looking out the Starbucks window. The sun has left the sky, and the cosy Winnipeg neighbourhood is dark.

“I was like ‘Oh, fuck. Yeah.’ Then I suddenly remembered… the letter, and right away I was like, ‘Holy shit.’”

She purses her naked lips before looking down at the note.

“I lost it. I started crying. I kept saying, ‘This is what it is! I know this is what it is!’”

But Janovcik says there were no red flags– no warnings, no negative reviews, no backlash– that she saw before purchasing the $20 tube of Cashmere that ended up costing her over $2,000.

“Most of the people I followed [on Instagram] raved about [Lime Crime’s] products on their beauty accounts,” says Janovcik. “They thought the brand had awesome colours, and that it was a decent product. That’s kind of why I went for it.”

And while in hindsight Janovcik says she was naive for not researching more before falling in love with Lime Crime, over 2,000 miles away, in sunny California, 28-year-old Polly* shared her similar thoughts.

“Honestly? To tell you the complete and honest truth? I never knew about these things, about the backlash,” says Polly over the phone. “The only thing I had heard of was that their stuff wasn’t actually vegan, and obviously because I was such a fan of them, I thought ‘Well they could be lies,’ and, ‘people always have haters.’”

Polly was hired by Doe Deere to work in Lime Crime’s customer service; a job she got not only because of her qualifications, but because she mentioned she was a massive fan of Deere.

“They say ‘if you have haters, you’re doing something right.’”


xxxxxxDollhouse

“Hey girl, open the walls, play with your dolls…”

Even though Polly talks to me over the phone, I can hear the smile in her voice.
She says it was a dream come true.

“Could you imagine? It’d be like Makeup For Ever calling you and being like, ‘Yo,’” laughs Polly sharply. “It was so cool and so exciting. Honestly, it was the best day ever.”

It was a few months after a friend would put in a good word for her that Polly got the phone call. She had been working in product development with various cosmetics companies, and after leaving her prior job due to the brand’s financial issues, she received her first message from Lime Crime.

“The first interview I did, I did it with Mark (Deere’s husband). [Mark and I] chatted a little bit– it was a very informal interview, like at a local coffee shop– but they were pretty impressed with my credentials,” says Polly.

She hesitates.

“They also really liked the fact that I was a long time Doe Deere & Lime Crime fan.”

Polly says she let them know of her fondness of Deere; that she followed her blog, and admired her unique style since her early entrepreneurial days online. “[I used to] look at all the original Lime Crime stuff with its original packaging. They loved that.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 1.04.24 AM

A photo from Deere’s personal Instagram account allegedly shows the CEO dressed as an angel at Lime Crime’s head office.

The second interview took place at Lime Crime’s offices in California. Polly waited momentarily before being escorted to her meeting with Deere. 

“… We’ll be a perfect family.”

“Same thing happened; we chatted, and it was kind of informal, but we quickly got down to the nitty-gritty and she asked me similar questions [to Mark] like, ‘What are you doing? What are you looking for?’ blah, blah, blah,” says Polly. “I told her the same things, that I was a fan. She really, really liked that.”

In fact, Deere liked Polly so much that the 28-year-old started her job at Lime Crime the next day.

“When you walk away, is when we really play.”

She recounts her excitement as the news sunk in a brand she admired for so long had picked her to work for them. Deere herself had personally chosen Polly to work alongside.

She was ecstatic. 

It was Polly’s first ever customer service job, and while she hadn’t heard about the negativity surrounding the brand at the time, her glimpse into Lime Crime’s dollhouse-like world as a serious makeup brand perplexed the young woman.

“Everyone thinks that we’re perfect.”

“They’re very big on having lunch together every single day, and doing whatever [Deere] wants to do,” says Polly. “I remember one day, I went to lunch by myself, and it was like a big deal to them. They were like, ‘What? She’s not eating with us?’ because you’d always have to do what she wanted.”

When Polly came back from her break and joined the small group of employees, she says Deere and a girl with neon hair turned and left without speaking to her.

“[Deere] and one of the other girls got up and sat somewhere else. Like, so Mean Girls’ high school,” says Polly. She pauses on the other end of the phone before speaking; her voice breaks a little.

“She’s one of those people where it has to be all about her, and if you want to do your own thing, it’s not really acceptable.”

Polly claims that although there’s a small number of people in the company, they’re very united and private. “I’m pretty sure they’re just her closest friends as well as her employees,” says Polly. “It kind of felt like a high school type of thing where there was just a few of them, and you either fit in and follow their unspoken rules, or you’re out.”

“Please don’t let them look through the curtains.”

Unbeknownst to Polly, her time at Lime Crime had a fast-approaching expiry date.

“I wasn’t there that long [before I was let go], but what I was told by her husband was that I did not fit in with the culture of the company… that I just don’t have the right style,” says Polly.

But she was upset, and pointed out to Mark that they had more than enough time to change their minds about hiring her. Polly also noted that when she was fired, she had no interaction with Deere, the woman who had ultimately made the decision to hire her.

“I said, ‘You had 2 interviews with me, and you’re telling me I don’t have the right style?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, it sounds like a dick move, and I feel really bad, but I’m willing to be a personal reference for you because you’re really smart and you do really good work! But, you know, Doe just kind of has a vision.’”

Polly lets out a weak laugh.

“Throw on your dress and put on your doll faces.”

“All I said [to Mark] was ‘… Are you joking me?’ I knew Doe had to approve your outfits when you go to trade shows, and I think she was kinda hoping that maybe one day I would just walk in with purple hair or something but… I’m sorry, in the real world, people don’t want to look like you,” laughs Polly.

“They’re not trying to be up your ass.”

So Polly left Lime Crime and went on her way, but despite working so closely with Deere, she says she never caught wind of negativity– even while working in their customer service department, an experience she is forced to keep confidential due to the brand’s strict non-disclosure agreement (although when asked about what it was like working for Lime Crime’s customer service, Polly answered with a loud laugh.) 

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 1.06.01 AM

“Once I started working for her, I had a friend who owns a hair Salon down in San Diego, and she was telling me, ‘Haven’t you heard about the Tumblr site?’” says Polly in reference to Oh Dear, Doe Deere! “Literally right after I stopped working there, I started to do my research, and I was like, ‘Ah, shit. She is a piece of crap.’”

“Ha, you’re blinded by her jewelry.”

Months after the hack, Polly watched from afar as her former employer dealt with the security breach that would allegedly cripple hundreds of customers financially across the globe. While she says the hack could happen to any company, she feels like Lime Crime’s response showed the brand’s true colours.

“It’s all about your delivery, and Doe’s delivery sucked. Any point she might have had has just gotten lost,” says Polly in reference to the CEO lashing out at customer’s through social media. “The fact that things went private, like [Lime Crime and Deere’s] Instagram pages, I-I just can’t… I… I honestly can’t. Any company with respect and dignity…”

Polly’s voice trails off on the other end of the phone. She lets out a sigh.

“I mean, isn’t the customer always supposed to be right?”

“No one ever listens, this wallpaper glistens…”

Polly, *whose name has been changed to protect her from backlash, still works in product development with cosmetics. She follows her favourite brands & makeup artists on Instagram, much like Janovcik did when she was first influenced to buy from Lime Crime.

“Social media is BIG,” states Polly, who believes that the #BoycottLimeCrime movement could be effective if more people with bigger clout begin to speak up against the brand.

“With all these names like Jaclyn Hill, Jefree Starr, and whoever else with massive amounts of followers [against Lime Crime on social media]… it is THE form of communication that reaches the masses, and I feel like because of this, they might go down and not be able to get their reputation out of the gutter.”

As for people who are still considering buying Lime Crime?

“At the end of the day, you have to make whatever choice is right for you, but there are better options out there that are true to what they say… I mean, why waste your time supporting somebody who’s never going to support you?”

“I see things that nobody else sees.”


xxxxxxPity Party

“Did my invitations disappear?”

“One of my favourite makeup companies has always had rather… difficult reputation,” starts 20-year-old Tanja’s, aka Rose Shock’s, open letter posted to her blog. “For years, I have been supported by them, and I have absolutely loved their products.”

The Helsinki, Finland makeup artist continues, her tone shifting. “Slowly but surely I was seeing the evolution of this brand, and it was one downfall after another. For awhile I was afraid to use their products because people would attack me…” says Shock. “There is absolutely no reason why I should stand for a makeup company that makes me feel guilty.

Or scared even.

“Why’d I put my heart on every cursive letter?”

“Everyone keeps asking me about my thoughts on Lime Crime and their disgusting owner…” says Jeffrey Lynn Steininger, aka, Jefree Starr, in a lengthy Instagram post to his 1.2 million followers.

“Long story short: I befriended her in 2013 and had no idea how delusional, psychologically disturbed, and sad this girl was. She only wanted to be ‘friends’ so I would promote her brand and she would get attention. Fast forward to NOW…

All of the horrible things she as done have finally caught up with her.”

“Tell me why the hell no one is here…”

Meanwhile, on Snapchat (and also in Instagram comments,) style icon and makeup guru Jaclyn Hill, who has recently teamed up with BECCA Cosmetics, publicly posted her 10-second boycott pledge:

The backlash continued from more major players:
“In short, I will no longer be promoting/using @limecrimemakeup products or supporting the company in any way,” began the post to Samantha Ravndahl’s, aka SSSSamanthaa’s, 1.7 million Instagram followers.

“Along with many other artists, I truly feel this is what’s right. @Roseshock definitely said it well – regardless of truly enjoying Lime Crime products, I am often wary to post about them, and makeup shouldn’t be something you feel guilty about. I avoided getting involved in this controversy for a long time, but in light of recent events… I began to realize something,” wrote Ravndahl.

“I have been recommending these products. I could have been the one to push you to pick up that velvetine that consequently compromised your card.

And that’s simply not okay.”

“Tell me what to do to make it all feel better.”

Since Lime Crime’s security breach, which started in October 2014 & allegedly continued until February 2015, makeup influencers both big and small have used their social media platforms as a way to educate others about the brand.

While some have called for a boycott of the brand at events like IMATS, others have encouraged followers to do their own research and dispose of their Lime Crime makeup.

People like Lauren Curtis and Carli Bybel, who have made somewhat of a career from Youtube makeup videos and artistry, have nearly 7 million subscribers to their channels combined, so when one of them takes to Twitter to post their distaste with a brand, people listen.
curti

“Thanks for saying something or I never would’ve known!” writes one user in response to Curtis’ followup tweet asking her followers to Google the boycott.

“THANK YOU FOR SPEAKING OUT!” writes another in response to a similar tweet from Bybel. “Please help everyone who was affected also! [Deere] is trying shun… the problem.”

“Maybe it’s a cruel joke on me…
Whatever, whatever.”

And as people continue to point out, the problem not only stems from the initial security breach, or the drama & dishonesty that allegedly preceded the brand in Deere’s early years, but from Lime Crime’s treatment of their customers– or their ‘BFFs,’ as their self-proclaimed manifesto states (see below.)

Lime Crime’s Manifesto, posted in their California head office.

“Social media presence in this day is extremely relevant… [with] tech being what it is, anything can be quickly captured and shared in a second. That’s how the boycott has managed to succeed and not get bogged down,” says Quinn* who runs the popular boycott account, @RIPLimeGrime.

“If this were a few years ago, I guarantee D’oh (Deere) would have been able to shut us down like everyone else. But now, things are moving too fast and too quick for her to control it.”

“Just means there’s way more cake for me,
forever, forever.”

Quinn, *whose name has been changed to protect her identity, started dedicating her time to the boycott after witnessing how Lime Crime was responding to the hack while ignoring its panicked customers.

“I felt like something needed to be done, and they needed a voice as Doe wasn’t listening… [She was] making it difficult for them to be heard,” says Quinn. “So I started the boycott account.”

@RIPLimeGrime thrives mainly on Instagram, but also keeps an updated Twitter and Tumblr that reaches out to its 5,000 or so followers. The accounts are updated regularly, showcasing recent, almost daily examples of Lime Crime’s treatment of customers, including their habit of allegedly deleting comments, not giving due credit to original posters, or editing other’s personal product photos.

“The length and breadth of the boycott is very interesting to say the least. It’s touched so many people on so many levels and walks of life. It really is astounding,” says Quinn, who works for a major cosmetics company as a professional artist when she’s not managing the account. “It’s brought people together.”

“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.”

As she points out, the #BoycottLimeCrime hashtag is pushing 8,000 posts and counting. It has support from big-name makeup artists with thousands (or even millions) of followers, down to average Jane’s with 2 or 3 hundred.

“Too many people have been affected [by Lime Crime]. They’re all pissed and speaking out, and it’s too much for Doe to control anymore,” says Quinn.

“We’re like whack-a-mole or a hydra; cut 1 head off, 2 more spring up-” and there are certainly plenty hydras being decapitated, because a quick search yields countless accounts under names like @boycott.lime.crime, @limecrimelies, @limecrimeboycott, @boycott.limecrime, @limecim3_criminals, @lime_crime_liar, @limecrime_sucks, and plenty more across all social media platforms.

“I’ve seen a lot more comments on Lime Crime’s posts on a regular basis now; almost every post will have boycott related comments on it, so it’s difficult not to see it,” says Quinn, who adds that Deere allegedly deletes most negative comments, but either chooses not to get them all, or misses some.

“Maybe if I knew all of them well,

A glance at Lime Crime’s Instagram account typically yields dozens of customer comments ranging from some cursing the brand and calling Deere evil, to others expressing curiosity over claims of cold sores, severe medical reactions, product inconsistencies, and, of course, the boycott.

“More people are getting bolder and more vocal for sure,” adds Quinn.

And it appeared that those people’s voices had been heard,
because on July 29th, 2015,
via overnight delivery,
the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) sent a warning letter directly to Doe Deere and Lime Crime Makeup.

Dear Ms. Deere,” starts the note. I picture it printed plainly on crisp, white paper, baring a stark contrast from the receiver’s normally neon attitude.  “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reviewed your product, Lime Crime Velvetines Liquid Matte Lipstick (red velvet)…

I imagine Deere reading the letter over and over like Janovcik did with her letter from Lime Crime.

“Cry if I want to
(Cry, cry, cry)”


 

xxxxxxSoap

“Think I got myself in trouble,
so I fill the bath with bubbles.”

Across the Atlantic Ocean, in the city of Birmingham, UK, 23-year-old Aimee Alcock recounts the first time Lime Crime’s Velvetines allegedly made her sick.

“At a first look, my doctor thought I had got my mouth in contact with some form of chemical agent that would cause this [reaction],” says Alcock. She alleges that after using her tubes of Riot and Wicked for the first time, her health began to deteriorate.

“I feel it coming out my throat…”

“As the day went on [after applying Riot] I slowly lost my voice and had a really sore throat.” Alcock claims she wore the lipstick the first time for a girls’ night out one weekend. “After 4 days, the sore throat subsided and I started to get back to normal. Again, I went out for a weekend with some friends, and I decided to give Wicked a go.”

This time, her reaction was much more severe.

While Alcock reasoned that perhaps her first symptoms could have come from a night of drinking and getting rowdy with friends, the second, more aggressive reaction started to raise questions about what exactly was causing her health problems.

“God, I wish I never spoke…”

“I had nothing to drink [when I went out], and nothing spectacular happened, so when I woke up the following morning with a sore throat to the point I was in tears, a swollen tongue, and blisters all over my lips, I started to get worried,” she says. “I booked myself in to see my GP (general practitioner) the next day to get a diagnosis.”

After her initial examination, Alcock’s doctor was stumped. He asked if she could have come in contact with dangerous chemicals from her previous job at a funeral home, but Alcock swore she hadn’t worked closely with embalming materials in quite some time.

“After a process of elimination, we came to realize that it could be the Wicked Velvetine,” says Alcock, who says her doctor also told her that there was some form of agent in the lipstick that she was allergic to. Alcock checked the packaging.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 7.52.43 PM

“There was nothing that immediately stood out to myself or my GP as an aggressive ingredient in them to have caused such an angry rash and reaction,” Alcock says.

“When I got home, I immediately threw away all 3 of my shades. The following few days after returning from my GP, I suffered with flu-like symptoms, a temperature, loss of appetite, migraines and muscle weakness, which my GP also linked directly to the use of the Velvetines.”

“Guess I better wash my mouth out with soap.”

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there are a few chemicals that cause flu-like symptoms similar to what Alcock experienced;
Exposure to Benzene, a natural constituent of crude oil, will initially mimic cold symptoms before getting aggressive and deadly. 2-butoxyethanol, a colourless liquid with a sweet, ether-like odor that’s used in domestic and industrial products, will also imitate qualities of a stomach bug before attacking major organs like the kidney and liver.

And while the list of potential chemical culprits could extend across the Atlantic to Alcock’s front door, there are 2 that have been linked back to Lime Crime directly– and depending on who you choose to believe, the issue is either simply a misprint, or a serious, unapproved, cosmetic catastrophe.

Velvetines Liquid Matte Lipstick (red velvet) is an adulterated cosmetic because it bears or contains a color additive which is unsafe…” reads the FDA’s official letter addressed to Deere. “Specifically, according to your product label, Velvetines Liquid Matte Lipstick (red velvet) contains ferric ferrocyanide and ultramarines, which are only permitted for use in coloring.

“I’m tired of being careful, tiptoe…”

Ferric ferrocyanide, also known as Prussian Blue, has been used as a pigment in the cosmetics industry with artists since 1704. It is widely considered to be the first modern, synthetic pigment, and while ferric ferrocyanide is FDA approved for cosmetic use, the chemical is not specifically lip-safe.

“Prussian blue works using a mechanism known as ion exchange. [Chemicals] that have been absorbed into the body are removed by the liver and passed into the intestine and are then re-absorbed into the body,” reads the FDA’s breakdown of the chemical. “Prussian blue works by trapping [chemicals] in the intestine, so that they can be passed out of the body in the stool rather than be re-absorbed.”

The FDA’s official website also states that a common side-effect from ferric ferrocyanide stems from stomach pain and mild, flu-like symptoms. While there are no recorded, consistent reactions from reputable sources like the FDA on ultramarine’s direct effects, those who have seen adverse reactions to the pigment have reported everything from rashes, itching, cystic acne, extreme skin sensitivity, and more.

“[Ultramarines] have been synthetically produced in labs since the 70s,” writes beauty blogger, The Soap Pixie, in a post addressing the difference between micas, ultramarines & oxides. “The FDA decided that natural oxides were too contaminated with dangerous minerals (lead, arsenic, mercury, antimony and selenium). Since then, only ‘cosmetic grade’ synthetic oxides & ultramarines have been allowed.”

When news of Lime Crime’s FDA warning letter broke in August– from major, credible news sources like The Huffington Post, Fashionista.com, The Glow, Style Blazer, and more– it was no surprise that frightened customers flooded the brand’s social media demanding answers.

“Any comment on the FDA letter?” writes one user on Lime Crime’s Instagram account. “I mean, it’s on the FDA website… Hard to lie about that…”

“You guys should address this FDA issues in detail. I order a lot and I’m so confused right now,” writes another.

“Is it true about some of your velveteens not complying with the FDA standards?” a customer asks. “Can you clarify the issues going on with the FDA?”

However, rather than addressing their customer’s concerns, users allege that their posts were deleted intentionally. As some begged for the brand to make a formal post about the FDA’s claims, curious comments began to allegedly disappear from Lime Crime’s social media. User’s whose panic wasn’t removed either found themselves ignored, or blocked.

“Uh-oh, there it goes, I said too much, it overflowed.”

But besides allegedly silencing customers, Lime Crime was quick to defend themselves.

On the brand’s social media, Lime Crime told customers that the FDA violation wasn’t because of unsafe chemicals; rather, the panic was due to a simple misprint on the packaging.

“The Velvetines are safe to use, however there is a misprint on the label which we were asked to fix. We are doing this right now,” reads one response from Lime Crime addressing a customer’s question before the brand asks one of their own: “If you don’t mind us asking, what is the source that is talking about this?”

In other replies, the brand responded with a variety of answers:
“Just so you guys are in the know, the ingredients in question… are NOT harmful. They are approved for lips in Europe,” read another post from the brand.

“I understand. But Europe and the US have different regulations,” starts one user in her response. “All I really want is for Lime Crime to make a formal post regarding this… looks like you don’t care, and that’s what makes me most uncomfortable.”

Another user then joined in: “[It’s] still unprofessional to address this in a comment.”

It took around 9 days after the letter went public for Lime Crime to formally address the FDA’s warning. As customers waited for the brand’s official statement, others speculated whether Lime Crime would adhere to the FDA’s 15-day strict response period:

Please notify this office in writing within fifteen (15) working days of the receipt of this letter as to the specific steps you have taken to correct the stated violations,” reads the FDA letter. “Including an explanation of each step being taken to identify violations and make corrections to ensure that similar violations will not recur.

Since the warning, Lime Crime has posted a response to their website at http://www.limecrime.com/fda (it is noted that there is no direct way to get to the article from the brand’s homepage.)

“Why do I always spill?”

Lime Crime received a warning letter from FDA in reference to the cosmetic pigments Ultramarines and Ferric Ferrocyanide printed on the Velvetines box. The letter was a request for clarification as to whether those ingredients are in the product, and the FDA does not claim to have tested the products for the presence of these ingredients in the formula,” reads the brand’s public statement. “In fact, those ingredients are not in Lime Crime’s Velvetines products.

But what about Alcock’s aggressive symptoms?
What about her doctor’s diagnosis?
Or the fact customers alleged other boxes besides just Red Velvet were found to have ferric ferrocyanide printed?
And if it was just a misprint, why did Lime Crime continuously point out that the chemicals were approved in Europe if they weren’t even used in the first place?

Lime Crime has been in active communication with the FDA regarding the letter and following their instructions to resolve it as quickly as possible,” continues the statement. “As per FDA, Lime Crime is providing documentation demonstrating that these ingredients are, indeed, not part of the Velvetines formula and it’s a simple labeling error.

“Threw a toaster in the bathtub…”

What about customers who have posted photos to social media of their alleged reaction from Lime Crime’s makeup?
And if it was a simple labeling mistake– a simple misspell– why such a big one?
If Deere was as hands-on with her cosmetics as she claims,
why was it not corrected earlier?

Like many others, I had questions for the brand.

I reached out to Deere via email after the news of the FDA letter broke. Once again, I received the same, cookie-cutter message from Lime Crime that I normally did, so I decided to ask my questions on Instagram.

“Hi! I’m the Canadian journalist who wrote Pandora’s Purple Box–”

My account was blocked in less than 2 minutes.

“I’m sick of all the games I have to play.”


xxxxxxCry Baby

“You seem to replace your brain with your heart.
You take things so hard, and then you fall apart.”

Since the FDA warning, Lime Crime has continued to sell its product to its passionate, dedicated fan base.

Deere and her team have released new cosmetics– the most recent announced today– a lipstick called Eraser, “an Urban Outfitters exclusive new cream matte lipstick shade that was inspired by the eraser on the classic # 2 pencil.” (quote taken from Lime Crime’s Instagram.)

As one boycotter put it, “She named it eraser because she loves to delete/erase any comments she doesn’t like.”

The brand even teamed up with singer/songwriter Melanie Martinez a few months back, a 20-year-old, top six contestant from The Voice Season 3.

Together, they released Cry Baby, a bright blue lipstick shade that some have either pegged as the brand’s response to Jefree Starr’s shade Jaw Breaker that was released earlier this summer, or a close version of the brand’s already existing lipstick, No She Didn’t.

But despite the release of the new, neon lipsticks,
unique, mouth-watering colours,
and innovative, pretty, delicate packaging,
Taiana Janovcik says she’s done with the brand.

Janovcik sits in the small, bustling Starbucks in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village district. From across the stained coffee table, she hands me her letter from Lime Crime.

“It was nice of them to type up a letter, but how long did that take?” asks Janovcik before taking a sip from her drink. I expect a ring of lipstick to stick to the mouth of the cup, but remember she isn’t wearing any.

“You try to explain but before you can start,
those cry baby tears come out of the dark.”

“I feel like it would have been forgivable if it was an honest mistake that was dealt with literally the second they found out, but to hear that Doe Deere was responding with hateful comments, blocking people… Like, that’s… I actually don’t even know what to say about that,” says Janovcik. “I’m just embarrassed for her, honestly. I’m embarrassed for her.”

She glances out the window. The city is dark.

“They call you cry baby, cry baby,
but you don’t fucking care.
Cry baby, cry baby,
so you laugh through your tears.”


Pandora’s Purple Box is a series written and researched by Canadian journalist, bestselling author, and award-winning blogger, Cella Lao Rousseau.
The 2-part series focuses on Lime Crime Makeup and their security breach that took place in 2014, as well as their recent FDA warning in 2015, and features real-life stories from victims of the hack, boycotters involved, and an exclusive interview with a former Lime Crime employee.
Deere was contacted several times for an interview. She declined to comment or participate.
Music and lyrics by Melanie Martinez.
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Around 760 Days Ago

bcd

“The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.” ― Yves Saint-Laurent

Around 760 days ago, I walked into St. Vital mall with a crumpled resume, overly filled-in eyebrows, and a very uneven haircut.

A week before, I was being told by my friend’s mother that the retail job I was at was inappropriate for ‘someone like me.’

“You’re selling crappy bags to crappy people, and those stupid frog hats,” she said, nodding to the fluorescent-green, bug-eyed toque I had bought one shift as a joke. “You need to work somewhere better.”

She mentioned high-end places for me to apply at; retail boutiques and designer stores, but I kept saying I was fine. I felt like after quitting my job as a cashier at a grocery store, I had hit the jackpot in finding an overly-chill mall job.

I mean, there was little to no traffic at the location I worked, the bosses and employees were relaxed, and the majority of my shift would be spent playing Magic: The Gathering with a Scottish red-head in stretch-pants, or shooting elastic bands over luggage racks.

And it was fun right out of high school, but after a year of mediocre sales, a shitty secret-shopper on the day after my 18th birthday (guess how that went?) and a move to a more… What’s the word… Sketchyasfuck mall, I decided I had enough of the ‘lax life. I wanted a challenge- a job with structure where I could actually learn something.

The new location I was at was tucked into the corner of a desolate, cavernous maze of unkept faulty fountains and excessive extra security. Someone stole something at least once a day, a woman on the bench outside the store once pulled out her gun in a daze, and I was spit at after being told I needed a ‘facial’ by a giggling teenage girl.

“But you’re creative!” my friend’s mom would say as I sat in denial, thinking about the old bitch who had tried to rip me off the week before with doctored receipts for a $16 handbag. “You need an exciting, fun retail job.”

Super Cool Fact: Retail is rarely ‘fun’. Retail is always war.

The next day, I printed off my resume, watched a dozen YouTube makeup tutorials, and mentally prepared myself to drop off my envelope of qualifications at a little black-and-white store in the mall.

They were supposedly hiring.

I stopped in twice the week before handing in my resume, picking up makeup I had read about online (yet having no idea how to use it) and reading about the history of the company in late-night web binges.

Originally founded in 1969, France, by Dominique Mandonnaud, Sephora started off as a small perfumery called Shop 8, but the owner had bigger ideas. Mandonnaud wanted to run a new slice of cosmetic heaven- a store that actually let customers try on products before making a purchase- and that was something that was unheard of at the time.

In 1970, Shop 8 became Sephora, but it wasn’t until 1995 that Sephora began producing its own cosmetics, and it wasn’t until 1997 that Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy (LVMH) purchased the chain from Mandonnaud.

Since being bought by the world’s leading luxury group, Sephora has gone global, operating approximately 1,900 stores in 29 countries worldwide, with an expanding base of over 360 stores across North America.

So you can guess why, around 760 days ago, when I walked into St. Vital mall with a crumpled resume, overly filled-in eyebrows, and a very uneven haircut, I was nervous.

You can guess why, around 760 days ago, when I approached a thin shopgirl in hot-pink lipstick and crisp eyeliner, my voice shook as I asked to speak to a manager.

You can guess why, around 760 days ago, when I sat down for a group interview across from all-black visages and glottal-fried answers, I thought about my responses and tried to reply thoughtfully.

And you can guess why, around 760 days ago, I vomited up my chicken souvlaki pita and cried with excitement when I received a phone call telling me I was hired on to work a seasonal position.

But I knew I couldn’t work with smeared mascara, so I took a minute to get my shit together.

Eager, I moved from cash, to greeting, to late-night restocking. I was a cheese-ball at the register, cracking bad jokes and poking fun at awkward boyfriends who didn’t understand the difference between concealer and foundation (HA. N00bz.)

From the sidelines, I observed the store’s staff dynamic.
There was Josh, who had resting bitch-face so intimidating that I didn’t talk to him for months out of fear. Shayla, the seemingly soft-spoken red-head who reminded me of a sassy Little Mermaid. Becca, my fellow big-boobed, in-your-face, powerhouse, and Shalla, her Kardashian-obsessed mentor and other half (who doubled as the store’s tender mother figure).

In the back, there was Lacey with her inappropriate jokes and toothy grin. In the front, there was Lauren, the tatted-up ~*cool kid*~ beauty, Brooklynn, a fellow newbie (and babe) who went on to be my boss (which reeeally isn’t as awkward as it sounds), Raquel, a yoga-loving party gal’, Alysha, a bubbly, gel-nail princess, and Jess, an out-spoken realist with a personality double her size.

I quickly bonded with Nichole as we talked about Arrested Development and our love for Marc Jacobs, learned plenty from quick-witted fragrance specialist Morgan, shared constant giggle-fits with cheeky Kaela, and got play-by-plays of the day-to-day from fierce, red-headed leader, Trish.

Slowly, I blended with the group, and made my mark as the loud, foul-mouthed, big-haired new chick who tried to watch every brand video in existence, all while learning that primer is actually supposed to go under foundation, and that perfecting liquid liner comes from practice, not selling your soul to some master of a demonic underworld.

#BrowGameTooStrong

Soon I was matching foundation and filling in eyebrows, learning the difference between under and surface tones, and watching in amazement as Josh tacked on pair after pair of false lashes without breaking a sweat.

I delved into a world of lipstick, finding my comfort zone in dark, gothic reds and browns rather than the pinks and corals I had always been told I should wear to look ‘feminine’ and ‘cute’. I started applying bronzer strategically, not all over my face, and repositioned my blush to accentuate my cheekbones rather than flood product across my profile.

I grew into myself, gaining confidence with every educated brushstroke and wand-swipe within the walls of the black-and-white makeup store, forming bonds with employees and clients alike.

On one day, a blue-haired teenage girl in a wheelchair entered the store with her boyfriend.

After helping her pick out some eyeshadow and lipstick, I chirped a lyrical goodbye to them as they moved towards the exit. She paused and stopped her boyfriend, calling me over before lifting the sleeve of her baggy black sweater.

Lining her thin, pale arm, were dozens and dozens of hand-beaded bracelets, each with their own unique patterns and colours. She slipped a purple and green one off her wrist and held it out to me.

The girl explained that she had cancer and that she didn’t have long to live. She wanted to say thank you to all the people in her life, regardless of how long she knew them. To her, I was no more than a shopgirl who helped her with her makeup.

She held my hand as I touched the bracelet and pulled me down for a hug. “You’re so beautiful,” she whispered with a smile as I froze, tears streaking down my face. “Thank you.” I couldn’t respond; I would choke on my words.

I never saw her again after that.

Life at the little black-and-white makeup store prepared me for the challenges that can come with human interaction, and the patience needed for successful, genuine, and thoughtful connections with others.

Life at the little black-and-white makeup store allowed me to grow and learn in a fast-paced, overwhelming environment of constantly updated knick-knacks and techniques, all while keeping me grounded, trained, and set in reality.

Life at the little black-and-white makeup store gave me the chance to meet and interact with some of the most incredible, talented people I know, and whether I knew you for a chapter, a page, or a sentence, your mark on my life has been effective and sincere.

Around 760 days ago, I walked into St. Vital mall with a crumpled resume, overly filled-in eyebrows, and a very uneven haircut. I was looking for a job: something new and challenging, but more importantly, a place where I could fit in and be supported regardless of whatever ridiculous path I decided to follow.

Around 760 days ago, I found that job,
and around 30 days ago, I left it.

Not because I outgrew the fragrance wall, the intricate gold packages of YSL, or the soft melodic crunch of folded red tissue paper, but because I have the chance to grow elsewhere, and follow yet another ridiculous path.

So thank you, Sephora St. Vital.

Thank you for everything.

Fat

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A friend called me a fat bitch during some anticlimactic battle when we were sixteen. It was the worst thing anyone had called me. I hung up the phone on her immediately.

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Pretty sure I looked exactly this fabulous around the time of the incident.

You know that feeling you get in your diaphragm? Like someone’s decided that THAT specific point on your body is now a massive black hole, and the rest of you is going to get sucked inside? Well when she called me fat, it felt like that, times three billion. I was only sixteen, and the idea of someone thinking I wasn’t skinny was the worst thing that could ever happen ever. I remember crying to my boyfriend at the time, and he reassured me that I wasn’t fat. I was beautiful and gorgeous and a shining example of stunning cuteness  (I’m milking it now, but you get the point).

As I matured, I looked for constant validation from other people to reassure myself that I wasn’t actually fat. I remember refusing to wear the knee-high socks with my uniform during high school because I was afraid of people judging my legs. I’d ask my parents if I was fat and they’d say just ‘chubby’, or ‘curvy’. Those words hurt me too, but as long as people weren’t blatantly calling me fat, I was cool with it.

A few years after the incident, something life-changing happened. I watched a documentary called The Fat Body (In)visible. It was a self acceptance piece directed by PhD student Margitte Kristjansson. My big epiphany occurred when both Jessica and Keena made it obvious that you can in fact be fat and beautiful.

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Actual photograph of my mind being blown.

Fat and beautiful? No. Never. Every time I asked people if I was fat, or when I referred to myself as fat, they would immediately dismiss the word and tell me I was pretty. I could never be both. After delving further into the body-positive world, I discovered that the word fat is not an insult. Fat is something on your body, it does not make up the entirety of your being, and plus, using fat as an insult is lazy. If you want to let someone know how disgusting they are to you, try something more creative, like grisly, grotesque, hideous, horrid, unseemly, or unsightly. There! I’ve already got you started. Now, whenever someone calls me fat, I try and retort with my favourite quote from American Dad– “Don’t lob factual statements at me as if they’re insults.”

The word fat has a bad reputation. People often assume that if you’re fat, you’re automatically lethargic and unhealthy, but you cannot judge, or know the actual state of someones heath, unless you are that person. I see a lot of people playing doctor, and posting comments similar to this nature, on Tess Munster’s Instagram. For those of you who do not know who Tess Munster is, she is an incredibly talented makeup artist, self love activist, and drop dead gorgeous, plus-size model. Tess also created the #effyourbeautystandards movement, which is aimed to, “help women show society that being fabulous isn’t limited to the size you wear!” On Tess’s Instagram, she often posts beautiful photographs of herself wearing whatever the hell she wants, and for some reason, people think it’s okay to jump in with their concern for her health, their opinion on her body shape, or just to express their disgust. Supporters always jump to Miss Munster’s defence, but the ignorance is never-ending. It perplexes me that people think it’s okay to comment and pass judgment on a body that is not their own. It is never helpful to tell someone how to lose weight or what to eat. It is never alright to let someone know that you think they’re unhealthy. And it is absolutely never-ever-in-a-million-billion-trillion years okay to tell someone how their body makes you feel.

 

I suggest channeling your inner Dude if faced with other people’s unnecessary opinion.

The really cool thing is a lot of people have also started to ‘take back the word’ fat. Fancy Lady Industries creates and sells fabulous fat necklaces that aim at taking the sting out of the three-letter word. Chubby Cartwheels, another online shop, not only sells beautiful plus size clothing, but also ‘big body hottie’ buttons. There’re now stores online that have started producing jewlery, clothing, and just about anything else you can think of that is aimed to take back the word fat.

I often think about the time my friend called me a fat bitch. I also often think about how I would react if someone called me that now. I’d like to think I would laugh and dismiss the comment. I can only hope that one day, that three-letter word can be reclaimed and used positively. Whether thin or fat, we all have the right to find ourselves attractive.

Until then, I can happily say that this fat bitch is doing alright.