Hey, look! Not completely abandoned this blog! Applause deserved all round, I think.
Anyway, instead of filling Twitter with this stream of consciousness on Lush, I thought I’d post it here. For those of you that are unaware, on Tuesday, Lush’s flagship store allowed a performance artist to spend ten hours in their shop window acting out what is undergone by animals during testing. (Apparently. I doubt few of us would actually know.)
Now, I like animals as much as the next person. I have a dog who recently had a stroke, and seeing her like that kept me teary for quite a few days. She’s better now, aside from the amusing head-tilt she has acquired. I also want a cat but am not allowed one *grumble grumble*
I don’t like animal testing for cosmetics, but I don’t sit around thinking about it much because I’m an optimistic person and I refuse to dwell on things that make me upset.
But I have a few problems with this performance, and Lush itself.
To begin: Lush smells. Really bad. Its products are overly-perfumed and over-priced. That is GREAT if you can afford ethical products, but the vast majority of us have to make do with cut-price ranges such as Barry M, 17 and Collection 2000. I will, however, buy Clinique foundation. I like to splash out occasionally.
So I find it sort of patronising when Lush’s campaign manager, Tamsin Osmond writes in The Guardian: ‘We used our flagship shop to put a window on to one form of oppression that all who buy cosmetics thoughtlessly, are complicit in.’
I do not buy cosmetics ‘thoughtlessly’ (I compare online reviews and everything) and I find it rude that Ms Osmond equates everyone who doesn’t buy Lush or The Body Shop’s products as being complicit in animal testing.
I do find that people who shop in places like Lush and The Body Shop have a tendency to be smug, like Prius drivers. They’re doing something ‘good’ passively. They’re also the sort of people who believe unwaveringly in the power of ‘clicktivism’, like that time when everyone changed their profile pictures to cartoon characters on Facebook and OMG YOU GUYZ WE STOPPED CHILD ABUSE! </sarcasm> (I didn’t change my profile picture, because I hate jumping on bandwagons. Especially ones as mindless as that. Although I did repost the Kony 2012 video. My bad.)
But my main problem with this Lush thing is how distasteful it was. And I know, poor little bunnie wunnies and catty watties and doggie woggies having things sprayed into their eyes is distasteful too, but at least it is not done in a shop window that children or victims of domestic abuse could be walking past.
It was done in a triggering way, and I don’t think that is ever a good way to get your point across. Perhaps they could have gotten around this by screening it off and allowing people to look behind the screen once they had been informed they were going to see something very graphic and potentially triggering. People are automatically intrigued by things that are ‘hidden’.
Websites and the news do this. If I am in one of my typical emotional girly moods, and I see a link with a disclaimer that says ‘WARNING: Graphic content’ I don’t click on it. Nine times out of ten I have no problems with graphic imagery and so will happily click away, but they put those warnings up for a reason. Some people are of a sensitive disposition or have suffered things that one could only imagine in their worst nightmares. By putting this message in a shop window on a busy high street, they removed a person’s right to choose what to see. And that’s never a good thing.
And finally, I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of the stunt was. If we look at comments left on The Guardian article and the same article on Fighting Animal Testing, I see a lot of people turned off by the campaign – even hardcore Lush lovers vowing to never shop there again.
It just reminds me of the pro-lifers who protest outside abortion clinics using grossly inaccurate models of foetuses and PETA, and to the average person, PETA are fucking nutty. Now it looks like Lush are going down the same road.
I also read this in The Guardian’s comment section. Not sure how true it is, but it’s also popping up on Twitter and is definitely some food for thought on how ‘ethical’ the company claim to be: ‘Lush Cosmetics operates a shop in a gender segregated shopping mall in Saudi Arabia.’