About two years ago, Lush cosmetics started a campaign that encouraged its customers to sign a petition to stop animal testing in the cosmetics industry. To promote their cause, they hired Jacqueline Traide, a 24-year-old performance artist, to be subjected to the same kind of experiments animals go through in their Regent Street store for the whole of London to see.
Below is a video documenting the ordeal (the video is very graphic, so if you’re a bit queasy or feel triggered by torture, I suggest you skip it):
However, was it really necessary to go to such lengths, to physically torture this woman in front of people, to fight for animal rights?
To be honest, when I first read about this campaign, I was flabbergasted, and disgusted, to say the least. I understand that they really intended to shock people and provoke people to take action, but to dehumanize and humiliate a woman was just too much. To me, it didn’t seem like a protest for animal cruelty; however provocative and inspiring as it may be, it seemed more like an act of violence against a human being, specifically against women. I'm pretty sure there are many other ways to fight for a cause that wouldn't intentionally cause harm on a person and wouldn't be triggering for people who might have been victims of abuse in the past.
"I am not only a performance artist but also a teacher, a woman, a friend, a consumer, a feminist, a victim of sexual abuse, a student and most of all a fellow human being. A human who seeks to work for freedom through all of my identities.
"It was somewhere after the fourth hour of this live act that I found my self asking the question ‘why exactly am i here?’. I realised then that it was not to lush, nor to the onlookers but to the beings, animals and humans alike, that endure such suffering without choice.
"I am very aware of the consequences arising out of such a performance and feel it is of great important to stimulate and bring new perspectives and awareness on all levels.
I hope that the emotions and opinions the performance has provoked in people will inspire people to channel these energies into going out and fighting for all these injustices in the world through art, live action, performance, theatre, dance and music as well as an expression through debate – for if not through diverse mediums and the coming together through our many identities and creativity will these things can be changed?"