BEHIND THE SCENES: A CONCEALED FACE OF THE FASHION INDUSTRY

The fashion-cosmetic industry is a multibillion-dollar consumer-focused ever-growing global enterprise that has become an indispensable part of our lives. Everyone has a fashion or cosmetic brand which is close to their heart, but are heedless of its dark side. Animals and animal materials are vastly used in the industry, but the barbaric processes behind this are often left unaddressed. Certain kinds of animals are overbred for the production of fashion products with animal materials resulting in the extreme use of resources and the production of organic and toxic waste. These animals are denied basic comforts of living where they are confined in abhorrent conditions with restricted space for movement, mere food and brutally slaughtered at the end. Certain exotic endangered species also fall into this wretched fate for fashion. When affected with diseases, these animals are often rejected medical care and are placed alive in plastic bags to die. 

Animals are skinned alive for fur, feather, leather, wool, etc and are also subjected to various chemical experiments for the cosmetic industry. Millions of animals including unborn calves are skinned for the production of leather, a timeless trend of the fashion industry. These animals are treated ruthlessly where they reach the factories deprived of food, water and rest; are castrated and skinned alive by hanging upside down and eventually bled to death. Many believe that sheep are not harmed for the production of wool but on the contrary, they also have to undergo inhumane treatments like mulesing during the process. It is estimated that about 1 million sheep die from exposure to cold as the wool which is meant to protect them from the weather is sheared off in winter itself to meet the market demands. In Australia, a global leader in merino wool production, sheep are specifically bred to have wrinkled skin to increase wool production. But this makes their skin more prone to flystrike, a condition where the flies lay eggs in the skin folds and maggots eat the sheep alive. In order to prevent flystrike, mulesing, a practice in which huge pieces of skin are carved off the buttocks area is done. This process which causes great pain to the animal is carried out without anaesthesia. The sheep are sent to slaughterhouses once their wool production descends. Birds like parakeets, egrets, ostriches, and animals like mink, chinchillas, foxes, dogs, rabbits, cats etc caught for their feathers and fur also undergo the same fate. 

In order to ensure the safety of the customers, the companies of cosmetic and personal care products use animals to test their products. As the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS) describes, animals are subject to “testing new drugs to infecting with diseases, poisoning for toxicity testing, burning skin, causing brain damage, implanting electrodes into the brain, maiming, blinding, and other painful and invasive procedures.” Mice, birds, rabbits, monkeys, dogs, and cats are the common victims of vivisection (live testing) and spend the majority of their lifetime inside cages of laboratories. The exposure to these chemicals have severe impacts on these animals.  Pain relievers are never provided and they always die or get killed at the end of each test. 

We should strive to help these animals to have a life instead of “trapping animals in bone-breaking steel traps, clubbing them to death, electrocuting them through the mouth or anus, breaking their necks and backs, skinning them alive”. A fashion industry without harming animals is always possible and we all share this responsibility as this world is theirs too.