Cleft Lip & Palate Charity Sparks Outrage With Halloween-Themed Mailer

Fall 2017 must be the season for offending people through ad campaigns. Earlier this month Dove was widely criticized for their body wash online ad, which appeared to show a black woman turning white. Now Smile Train – a charity providing surgery to children born with cleft palates in the developing world – has caused uproar with a recent mailer.

Next to a photo of a child with a cleft lip, the envelope featured the words: “What if every day felt like HALLOWEEN?” Inside, the letter – which presumably was a plea to raise money for the charity – began with this sentence: “You have the power to put an end to their nightmare.”

Understandably, if you’re the parent of a child born with a cleft palate and you found this in your mailbox you’d be horrified. Even worse, imagine how you’d feel if you were actually born with a cleft lip and palate?

A photo of the mailer soon went viral and the response from the cleft palate community was swift. Smile Train also attempted to explain their actions, but the damage was already done.

Smile Train mailer
Credit: Facebook / Maghan Roberts Cockrell

How did people respond to this mailer?

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Marissa Charles

Born and raised in London, Marissa Charles is an award-winning journalist who has written for newspapers and magazines around the world. Her work has appeared in publications in the UK, the US, Australia, South Africa and France. She loves writing about health, fitness, celebrities, true crime and human-interest stories Her byline has appeared in a variety of publications, including EBONY, the Daily Mail Online, The Guardian, Essence, the New York Post,,, and British Glamour. Marissa currently lives in Los Angeles, California. She has no children yet but is a proud – and at times embarrassing – godmother.

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