Beauty and the beasts: The cosmetics industry is cruel to animals, but you can make a difference
You are going to a party, so naturally you want to look and smell your best. You have a long, hot bath, shampoo your hair yourself and then sit down before the dressing table to make-up your face.
You are going to a party, so naturally you want to look and smell your best. You have a long, hot bath, shampoo your hair yourself and then sit down before the dressing table to make-up your face. Lipstick, eyeshadow, rouge, perfume. Then you put your clothes on. Silk is elegant. If it is cold and you have the money, you wear fur mittens, or a jacket with fur lining.
Then you wear your jewellery; a string of pearls? Coral earrings? Then the shoes. Fashionable snake skin or lizard skin, a crocodile leather bag. There, how beautiful you look. You are now a walking purveyor of death; a burial ground where each victim has been dragged and tortured before being killed.
Women are the most wanton destroyers of life, because the luxury trade that exploits and degrades the world around us is geared to them. Do you use cosmetics, perfume, aerosols, buy unnecessary items of leather and animal hair and skin, or wear pearls and silk? You are guilty of mass murder, you are guilty of destroying an ecological system, you are guilty of making this planet a torture chamber for the innocent.
Here is what you do every time you sit down at the dressing table-
a) How is your talcum powder, lipstick and hair dye made safe for use? A tube is thrust down the throat of thousands of tiny chattering, friendly squirrel monkeys squashed together in cases, and each monkey is force fed the item to find out at which dosage level the animal dies.
b) Perfume uses a civet vusk base. The civet is shoved into 25 x 30 cm cage where it cannot even raise its head. Every ten days it is whipped, because when it is in pain it secretes musk in its pouch The pouch is then forced open and scraped with a spatula. This is done every 10 days till the animal dies — at less than a quarter of its normal lifespan.
c) A rabbit's head is clamped in a clutch and the eyes pegged open with metal clips. Shampoo concentrate is dropped in. The rabbit cries out loud in its agony, struggling till it breaks its back. Over 100,000 rabbit eyes go into just the shampoo trade every year.
d) A timid musk deer, of which very few are left now, is lured out of the dense Himalayan vegetation and caught in a gin trap with spiked teeth, which bite into the foot. The animal lies there for days till it dies. Then, if it does not have musk (Kasturi) needed for a perfume base it is thrown away as trash
e) Snake skin, crocodile skin, lizard skin? The crocodile is lassoed and hauled up. It thrashes for hours till it is stabbed in the neck to sever the spinal nerve. The skin on the underside of the belly is taken for leather and the live crocodile is lowered back into the water for feed. Snake skin is more elastic if taken when the snake is alive. A nail through the head pins it to a tree, a foot holds the writhing tail straight and a knife cuts down each side and the skin is ripped off. The same method is used for lizards.
But even ordinary leather. Does it come from the skin of dead animals? Of course it does, those animals that were killed not for meat, but for your shoes and bags. Cows, buffaloes, little calves (nice soft calf leather for boots), all taken off cattle pounds and killed. Even stray dogs are taken from municipal compounds and made into dog leather.
f) Pregnant mares make estrogen for cosmetics. So the mare is kept constantly pregnant and, since the estrogen is in the urine, she is kept in harness her whole life. The unwanted foals are sold by the perfumery for medical research.
g) How is aftershave lotion made burn proof? A guinea pig is defuzzed by using adhesive tape, which pulls the hair off each patch of skin. Aftershave is splashed on and inspected days later for chemical burns. The same animal is defuzzed repeatedly till the aftershave mixture is just right or it dies.
h) The silk moth pupa, cocooned in a soft security blanket, is thrown into boiling water and cooked till the thread comes off and is made into silk. 20,000 silk moths are boiled alive to make just one kilo of silk. Every silk sari you wear has caused the death of at least fifty thousand fellow creatures.
i) How do you get your string of pearls? When a piece of grit embeds itself in the soft body tissue of an oyster, it wraps it up in nacre to lessen the pain and a pearl is formed. So, to make a cultured pearl the oyster is opened with tongs, an incision is made and gravel put in. The oyster will live in extreme pain till the pearl is ready and it is killed to extract it.
j) Do you like wearing the karakul hat? Made of soft curly karakul (the word means black rose) lamb hair. The mother, the ewe, is hit over a hundred times with an iron rod to induce premature birth. The lamb is then skinned alive in front of her eyes so that its fur remains soft and curly. Those horrible white caps and white fur trimmings on children's clothes and fancy bags. Rabbit farms are just killing farms where the little rabbit is kept in a small cage till it grows to a certain size and is then electrocuted. In certain farms, they are even strangled manually, so that their fur is not spoilt by their blood.
k) Do you wear ivory bangles? Killing an elephant is forbidden but the ivory collector can take the tusks of a dead elephant. So he kills it by throwing giant thumbtacks across the elephant's path which get embedded in the foot, cause gangrene and then slow death. Or he smears the jackfruit on the tree with poison and waits for the elephant to eats its favourite fruit. Then he strips the carcass. Ivory selling has been stopped all over the world. It continues in India in spite of the ban - because you want it.
l) Do you use animal hair shaving brushes, hairbrushes, boot polish brushes, eyeliner and rouge brushes? All this hair is torn out by the handfuls while the animal — in most cases the harmless, playful squirrel — is still alive. For shaving brushes, the hog is the victim. Trussed to the ground, it screams like a little child while the labourer yanks out tuft after tuft of its hair.
None of the items listed above are essential for your health or happiness. There are alternatives available for all these products of pain and exploitation; from imitation leather and skins, to toiletries and cosmetics made from the best flower, herb and plant extracts or from chemicals that have not used animals as their base.
For those of you that want to make the first step towards conservation, towards a healthy respect for your co-beings on this planet, the NGO Beauty Without Cruelty has brought out a List Of Honour — names of those companies and products that will appease your vanity without destroying everything else. If you want to make an important political statement buy only those.
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