Stella’s apologizes after photoshopping ‘pro-choice’ message out of customer’s Instagram pic

Stella's cafe in Winnipeg is under fire for altering a patron's Instagram photo. Facebook / Marieke Gruwel

One woman is calling for a boycott of Stella’s, a popular Winnipeg breakfast restaurant chain, after the company’s social media account altered her photo to remove her “pro-choice” message.

Marieke Gruwel’s original photo of her brunch, along with a pin that read “Pro-choice, pro-women, pro-brunch” was posted two years ago.

But over the weekend, a friend of hers spotted a new version of the photo: one without the controversial message posted on Stella’s Instagram.

The image also removed the website of the Women’s Health Clinic, which produced the pin originally.

Gruwel, a student at Concordia University whose home base is Winnipeg, said she was shocked when she first saw the altered photo.

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“Out of what I assume to be hundreds of Stella’s brunch photos on Instagram, they chose mine and altered the very important message I was trying to convey,” she told Global News.

Stella’s has since removed the image from Instagram and Facebook, saying the social media posts were put online by a third party.

“The @mystellas post was meant to convey our culture’s love for brunch, but we took the wrong approach,” a statement from the company read.

“We deeply apologize to the original poster Marieke Gruwel and the Women’s Health Clinic, and all of our guests.”

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But the apology isn’t enough for Gruwel.

While she says she doesn’t need anything more personally, she’d like to see the company compensate the WHC.

“Non-profits often use materials like buttons to spread their message and to reach people,” she said. “Someone designed that button, someone paid to have that button produced, and so forth. Stella’s took that work and used it to sell food and gave no credit to the work that the WHC had done to create that button.”

She’s asking Winnipeggers to stay away from the breakfast chain until they do more.

“I think that until some changes are made, there are alternative, and still local, places that Winnipegger’s can support,” she said.

For its part, the WHC Winnipeg chapter is thanking Gruwel for bringing the picture to light.

“As a feminist, non-profit organization, we are disappointed a message that represents one of our core values was manipulated to suit a corporate purpose. We have since reached out to Stella’s and received an apology,” officials said in a statement on Facebook.

“As a registered charity and non-profit, we depend on small, accessible ways [like sharing pictures on social media!] to create awareness around our organization as providing empowering, non-judgmental, pro-choice health care. Thank you to Marieke and everyone who supports us in ways both large and small!”
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While Gruwel said she isn’t affiliated with the WHC in any way, she wants to make sure she does her part.

“I admire and appreciate the work they do for the community and like to support them in any way I can,” she said.

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