Monday, November 17, 2008

Stop the stigma.

Please read this request.

As a parent, I am often concerned when I see blatant evidence of our broken society: graphic graffiti on a sidewalk, nudity on television, violence in video games. And as a mental health professional, I am passionate about breaking stigma, such as helping people to understand that to see a therapist does not imply that something is "wrong" with a person. 

I recently received the following request from a colleague. This request spoke directly to my heart as a mom and mental health professional. I contacted the highlighted party immediately because I am not only a concerned citizen, but I am also a concerned mom, educator, and child advocate. Please consider sending a message to this company.

This came from NAMI StigmaBusters:

The Burton Snowboard Company in Vermont, an international leader in the sport industry, recently unveiled its “Primo” line of snowboards, featuring graphic images of self-mutilation. NAMI is protesting the company’s insensitivity to public health concerns.

For people living with mental illnesses, self-injury unfortunately sometimes is a means of coping with severe emotional stress. Physical injury becomes a surrogate for emotional pain. The Burton images reinforce impulses toward such violence and essentially trivializes them.

Spectrum Youth & Family Services in Vermont , which provides housing and services to homeless, foster and at-risk youth, has protested the toxic snowboards by suspending its participation in Burton’s “Chill” program— which provides free snowboarding lessons to disadvantaged youth in cities around the country. Chill’s mission? “To build self-esteem.”

In a newspaper article , Spectrum’s executive director objected also to a Burton snowboard line that features Playboy models, which is being protested by other groups: “I think I have the right to get on a [chairlift] this winter with my 5-year-old and not have him subjected to any of these scenes…I think I have the right not to have my son ask me, ‘Daddy, why is there a picture of someone’s naked bottom on that snowboard? Why is there a picture of a bloody hand all over that snowboard?’”

Please send Burton a message:
  • Primo snowboards are a public health hazard.
  • Self-injury is not a sport. There is nothing athletic about self-mutilation.
  • Graphic illustrations of bleeding fingers are insensitive and trivialize a symptom of mental illness.
  • Be one of the good guys. Stop toxic marketing. Support mental health education instead.

Mr. Laurent Potdevin, CEO
Burton Snowboard Company
80 Industrial Parkway
Burlington, VT 05401

StigmaBusters involved in youth-oriented programs are especially encouraged to contact Burton’s Chill Program to emphasize that the Primo line is a black-eye to the good the company tries to do. They are at risk of losing goodwill and credibility.

Katherine McConnell
Burton Snowboard Company
Director of Chill Program


Rebecca said...

"Mutilate the mountain, then terrorize the streets."

That is disgusting!

Anonymous said...

When does "tongue in cheek" marketing become a threat to children? When some people take little things way too seriously.

By the way....Burton are not the first company to sell boards with risque images, but they are one of the first to display them in black bags instore with an age appropriate warning.