Last month, we gave PETA Prime readers the chance to win one of six stylish and fashionable skin-free handbags from Urban Expressions by telling us their answers to the question “What does cruelty-free mean to you?”
After reading through dozens of terrific entries, we’re happy to present the six winners as chosen by PETA’s judges. You can read the first three entries in our previous blog post. Congratulations!
Cruelty-free to me means not supporting the manufacturers of products that use any materials on, test any products on, or contribute to the abuse of animals. As a young child, I couldn’t comprehend how anyone could wear fur and not feel bad for the life that was taken to make it. I also couldn’t believe why anyone would even want to wear it. To me, the type of person who would proudly wear fur just seemed kind of selfish. I knew then that I would never wear fur and never be one of “those people.” Then one day while I was at school, I found out from a teacher that suede was made of animal skin. For some reason, it never even crossed my mind that the sneakers I was wearing were made from an animal. It wasn’t as blatant or obvious to me like fur was. I couldn’t believe it. I suddenly felt like a horrible person. I was one of “those people!”
How could I have not known this? That’s when I realized that the bottom of my backpack was lined with it too. Then my mom’s wardrobe flashed though my mind. Suede boots! Her purse! That jacket! I felt like a total hypocrite. I told my mom how I didn’t feel right about having these things at the expense of an innocent animal’s life. My mom agreed. We spent the rest of that day going through our closets and getting rid of the things that were not cruelty-free and have made sure since to buy and support cruelty-free products only. Most people don’t even think twice when purchasing products made with animal skins because, honestly, I think people forget. It’s something that is familiar to them, it’s everywhere, and they don’t associate an animal’s life to it. I always make sure to encourage people to buy cruelty-free, because sometimes all they need is a reminder.
They say the world is dog-eat-dog, but in reality we are the only species that takes pleasure in bringing others down or continues to prepare meats and skins for anything other than survival. There was a time when slaughtering an animal was an essential need for the human race, but we seem to conveniently forget that the peoples who hunted animals also gave them something else in return: an enormous amount of respect. They respected animals and gave thanks for the leather they provided for their clothing and shelter, the meat they provided to their families and to their health. Today, women buy up leather bags, not ever thinking about or thanking the cows that provide them that luxury. And it is a luxury, not a need. We constantly want more and more in order to have the “right” look or the rarest delicacy. We are never happy with what we have.
For many people, it is no longer necessary to buy leather or eat meat because we have alternative options. These options, to some, seem to add up to a bland lifestyle, but if we never strive to change and try new things, we will never discover happiness in our own lives. Not only does cruelty-free mean not doing harm, it also means being thankful for what you have, and giving to those who have less of an opportunity to live happy lives. I own tons of shoes, bags, coats, blouses, jeans, and there are so many people in the world who have none of those things. Animals are happy with a shady tree for shelter, food to survive, and access to water. These are the things they need, and they want no more than this.
People often say it is barbaric to live like animals, but if we lived more like animals and respected animals, we would live simpler, happier lives. We can still have those things that we want every once in a while, but it doesn’t have to come at the price of an animal’s life. Would you slaughter your best friend for the latest leather it-bag? If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t slaughter an animal for it either.
Idaho Falls, Idaho
To me, being cruelty-free means in no way do you support any kind of exploitation of animals, whether it’s by eating them, wearing them, or using them for entertainment.
Looks like I never really had to give up anything at all!
Make your time with your friends and family—including your animal companions—even more meaningful.