There’s few issues more topical than animal rights. When I was in my early teens, I told my mom that I wanted to become a vegetarian, and she said that it was nothing more than a food fad (”I’m not making two dinners!”), so I reluctantly went back to eating meat until I was nineteen. During this time, I tried to be cruelty-free in other areas of my life; such as buying cosmetics that hadn’t been tested on animals and adopting pets from shelters. I’ve now been vegetarian for almost five years.
Why? I couldn’t rationalize why it was okay for me to eat the lambs I saw grazing on hills but not my pet rabbit. In my mind, there was no difference.
Being vegetarian is now the elephant in the room when I meet new people. The extreme tactics of many animal rights protestors has made them feel awkward around me. But I’m of the opinion that people can eat what they want. I don’t eat meat for ethical reasons, and, if anyone asks me why, I’m more than happy to explain. Whilst some argue that eating meat is necessary in order to have a balanced diet, I think we can all agree that animal testing in the cosmetics industry is unnecessary.
Popular cosmetics company Lush decided to take a stand, and artist Jacqueline Traide volunteered to be forcibly tested on in front of a London high street audience. The following photographs and footage provide a disturbing insight into what’s really involved in the production of cosmetics…
Cosmetics, unlike food, aren’t necessary to anyone’s survival, and there’s a lot of people who’d happily be paid to try them out. Animal testing’s all the more unnecessary because at some point products have to be tested on humans, and these days I’m sure we know what ingredients are dangerous and which aren’t.
London’s Regent Street is a popular shopping destination that’s home to many stores. Thousands of people file through it each day, staring wide-eyed into window displays designed to lure them into parting with as many dollars as possible. But they got a shock when they looked into the window of Lush on this particular occasion. If you’re not already familiar with Lush, it’s a company that prides itself on ethics which involve using fair trade ingredients and refusing to test its products on animals.
Jacqueline Traide is an artist who was 24 at the time of this demonstration, which took place in 2012. It was designed to shock passers by into thinking twice about where they buy their cosmetics from by subjecting a human to the callous experiments inflicted on millions of animals by the cosmetics industry. Before it began, Jacqueline agreed to being continually experimented on, even if the pain became unbearable, and she tried ask the doctors to stop…
As you can tell from the above photograph, Jacqueline was dressed in a flesh-colored suit in an attempt to dehumanize her. But perhaps most disturbingly, devices commonly used on laboratory animals were fitted to her, including this horrific looking device which enabled doctors to force feed her…
Even though Jacqueline’s intentions taking part in the demonstration were noble, we can only assume that there would have been moments when she regretted agreeing to it. The demonstration didn’t just last for an hour or so, it went on for ten hours, and, at one point, Jacqueline had to suffer the indignation of having her hair shaved off. The photograph below shows that she’s clearly upset when this happens, as a single tear rolls down her cheek.
Naturally, the demonstration was filmed and has been subject to a barrage of criticism. However, the majority of people who’ve seen it have felt simultaneously disturbed and enlightened by what they’ve seen, as the reality of animal testing isn’t widely publicised.
Speaking about the demonstration – which some have described as making ”no sense” and being ”over dramatic” – Lush campaign manager Tamsin Omond said:
“The ironic thing is that if it was a beagle in the window and we were doing all these things to it, we’d have the police and RSPCA here in minutes But somewhere in the world, this kind of thing is happening to an animal every few seconds on average.
The difference is, it’s normally hidden. We need to remind people it is still going on.”
Regardless of whether you agree with the extreme tactics used by Lush in this demonstration, it’s safe to say that it got across its point, highlighting to all the needless pain which animals are subjected to for the sake of cosmetics. Surely this is too high a price to pay for vanity? My vegetarianism might be the elephant in the room, but if demonstrations like this can instigate widespread change in areas where animals are needlessly exploited, it’s a small price to pay.