Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wrong move, PETA: At least "seakitten" was cute

Upfront: I eat meat. I didn't for about ten years, but as I was the only person in my family interested in being a vegetarian and I am the main cook in the family, it simply wasn't working out. Sure, I could have forced my family to not eat meat at home, but I can't make my husband's choices for him, nor should I try. Besides, I was a vegetarian because it is one way to address world hunger.

We compromised. We have three meatless meals a week and I buy cruelty free poultry, and grass fed beef.

PETA has done some things I actually admire. It was through their work that wearing fur became about the least cool thing you could do. They've helped animals the world over, and protected many from the threat of being hunted into extinction. PETA has also helped bring a lot of attention to animal testing in the cosmetic industry, and I also buy cruelty free products. My awareness of this is due specifically to PETA's efforts.

Although I believe in the food chain, I don't think there's any excuse for cruelty to animals, even if they are a food source. I've got no great love of chickens, but neither do I wish to have them tortured so that I can have some poultry. I do eat meat, but PETA is one of the reasons I ended up paying a lot attention to the source of that.

In recent years PETA has gotten a little bit peculiar, wanting to have fish called seakittens, for instance. Hey, no matter how much I rolled my eyes at that one, it brought more attention to their cause, and even if someone doesn't adopt a vegetarian, or vegan lifestyle, they end up finding out more about unnecessary animal testings, etc. Even if people are glancing in their direction because of, "Hey, look over here! We're being really weird, check it out!"

Sometimes their ad campaigns are really quite neat. I liked the campaign that dressed models and actors in vegetables and fruits. That was very well done.

This time I think they really screwed up. This article at the Huffington Post discusses the current campaign. Note: embedded link within the article leading to an Onion piece is Not Safe For Work.

Hey PETA, you got me to support a lot of cruelty-free practices. I stopped buying brands of shampoo, or face creams, or anything that involved animal testing. You made me care about animal cruelty. Well done. However, you shouldn't be cruel to people to promote your cause. People have feelings and can be hurt by words and images.

Obesity is a crisis in many countries. I'm fortunate in that I have never struggled with it personally. My mother-in-law has, so have two of my sister-in-laws. One of my closest friends battles against it in her life also. Article after article discusses the Obesity Crisis. A person with a weight issue can barely pick up a magazine, or turn on the TV without finding a piece on it. Lifestyle choices do play a part, and it would benefit people to eat better, exercise and take good care of themselves, but none of that should be focused on how they will look in a bikini.

When we make weight about superficial factors, we're only making the problem worse because it focuses on the surface: trying to curry societal acceptance. Feeling as if you don't is one of the huge contributing factors in obesity.

I grant you at least they used a cartoon image, but that still doesn't let them off the hook.

I frequently admire PETA in their dogged pursuit but this time their attempts to make people care about animals, and their ability to feel pain is inflicting pain on people already struggling with a lot of it. PETA would never sanction kicking a dog, but they just aimed a foot in the direction of obese people.

Badly done, PETA. Very badly done.


The Bug said...

Wow I agree - I was too busy at work reading blogs (heh) to get to Huff Post today. I've struggled with my weight for many years &, while I would like to be saved, I'm pretty sure I don't like that billboard!

Land of shimp said...

I don't like the billboard either, The Bug. I guess that's clear! I just don't think there's anything laudable in picking on a segment of society that is constantly on the receiving end of a lot of jabs.

For the people I know that have struggled with fighting obesity, it has been a very sensitive issue for them.

About the last thing they need is to have PETA, which let's face it takes a stance born of the privilege of being able to be very choosy about what they eat, taking even more swipes.

Even their (rather goofy) seakittens campaign ignores the fact that there are places in the world where cats and kittens are regularly devoured because hunger is such an issue.