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Foreword: I am opposed to many components of the animal rights movement. I do not support the idea that animals have the same rights as humans, nor do I feel that animal emancipation is for the betterment of mankind or the animals. This post is one of the more confrontational posts I’ve written for this blog, but I feel the need to say it. Body image and its impact on young women is something I am very passionate about, and felt compelled to share my views on the animal rights industry and their exploitation of women.
I’ve had a problem with PeTA for most of my life. Even from an early age, I knew that they were “whackos.” While maturity and experience have shown me that name-calling and snap judgements are not any way to get through life, I continue to disagree with PeTA for many reasons. Their agenda to force veganism onto the general public goes against my beliefs of food choice and freedom. Their efforts to shock consumers into veganism by using worst-case-scenario bad actors in agriculture goes against my experiences on so many different farms across the country. Their methods for gaining attention for their cause is probably what disgusts me the most; they objectify women with the primary intent of using sexuality to encourage their agenda.
As a women, this infuriates me. As an advocate of healthy self-esteem and realistic body image, it saddens me. It isn’t the simple fact that PeTA uses women to try and bash the people I have chosen to spend my life working with. (While, that is a contributing factor, there is so much more.)
To try and better support my points, I’ll put it into list form. I’m not sure how to start eloquently, so I’ll dive right in:
- Pop culture and media expose young women (and men, as well) to harsh pressures for image and appearance. This sort of approach is a slippery slope. By implying that one automatically becomes more sexy because of a vegan lifestyle can create an unrealistic image. Not every vegan (or vegetarian) out there has a model-esque body, just like not all meat-eaters are morbidly obese. If a young girl were to switch to veganism to obtain that body image, and did not have the desired results, what then? What would be the next logical step to reaching that unrealistic image?
- Pamela Anderson is a perfect example of buying your beauty. She is a recurring member of PeTA’s cast of characters, and ups the unrealistic demands for to a new level. On this blog on plastic surgery by Dr. D, a well-established and much-trusted plastic surgeon based out of Orange County, CA, Anderson is one of the most scrutinized celebs…primarily because of her consistent “overdosing” on implants and injections, as well as her consistency of procedure. Is this really want we want to expose children to?
- PeTA continues to push the objectification of human beings to a younger audience. PeTA2, the PeTA group geared towards targeting pre-teens and teenagers, holds polls on their website each year voting for the “Hottest Vegetarians.” While this may be socially acceptable in adult publications, this blatant sexuality seems a bit scandalous to be exposing children to.
- As someone who struggles with issues like self esteem and body image, I see it as one more attack against the reality that “healthy” has many different appearances. Not everyone who is “healthy” is shaped like the models in these PeTA campaigns; not everyone who has that kind of body is healthy.
- Sex sells, and PeTA is trying to sell a veganist agenda. This approach may have the impact of causing people to make rash decisions regarding their diets, which could lead to deficiencies and complications. If PeTA wanted to responsibly spread their message, they’d be doing so without objectifying women and with disclaimers and advice to properly promote health while sticking to vegan beliefs.
I think now is a good time to state that I don’t disagree with veganism or vegetarianism; I promote choice of lifestyle and freedom to follow the path that fits your beliefs and health best. However, PeTA’s agenda is not an internal thing. Many of their efforts are focused towards limiting options and taking away the freedom of choice in our food system. PeTA (and similarly, the Humane Society of the United States, aka HSUS) would like to see legislation passed to make meat consumption more costly and difficult.
It’s also valuable to point out that PeTA isn’t the only heinous contributor to this problem. Culture as a whole encourages girls to be more inappropriate and more self-demeaning from a younger age.
Factor in PeTA’s complete lack of ethical marketing, and you’ve got a pretty corrupt organization there. I mean, look at it this way: they value the welfare of food animals, over the emotional strength and well-being of the young people that are exposed to their foul propaganda. Do you think PeTA cares that they are contributing to the degradation of self esteem in North America? Do you think they acknowledge their part in growing rates of eating disorders, emotional damage, and lack of personal worth?
While my issues and disagreements with the animal rights movements are many and profound, this is one thing that PeTA does that really stands out to me as inappropriate and downright wrong. And as I said before, they may not be the only violators of this rule. Many industry use sex appeal and body image to sell a product or an idea. However, PeTA is using the promise of appearance to sell their ideals, and is traversing a dangerous and slippery slope.
So tell me, what’s your view on organizations objectifying women? If the models do so willingly, is it less offensive? Is it more suitable if it’s kept in adult-only venues, or should this sort of practice be limited? How do you think this impacts Freedom of Speech? Please, let me know via comments. I would like to see productive dialogue occurring about this issue.