PETA animal rights activist takes part in an action day to mark World Vegan Month. Source: PETA Instagram
PETA has a long history of sexist, objectifying ads – now they’ve added fat shaming to the mix. (Gosh, I just can’t wait until they get to racism and homophobia to convince people to stop eating meat!) If you aren’t familiar with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals they are the organisation that loves to get celebrities to take their kit off to show off their hot vegetarian bods, because of course the most important reason to not eat animals is to look sexy. And they’re always keen to draw a parallel between human bodies and animal bodies – but only if that body is a naked female one.
Their latest transparently shocking press release plays off the recent research that the morning-after pill begins to lose its effectiveness for women who weigh over 75 kilos. Since PETA have always been more interested in raising eyebrows than raising actual awareness, they decided to institute a campaign for ‘Plan V’, a call for women to switch to vegan meals to lose weight as “it could help women regain control over their productive lives”. Gee, thanks for the faux concern, PETA, might be a little bit more believable if you weren’t also sending a message that it’s incredibly important for women to be thin – do you have a ‘no fatties’ bumper sticker next to your ‘I brake for animals’ bumper sticker? If a woman can’t use emergency contraception, it seems perhaps the contraception needs to be tweaked – not the woman’s body.
PETA titled their press release ‘PETA Launches ‘Plan B’ Lifeline for Overweight Women: ‘Plan V’ for ‘Vegan’’, for some reason acting like overweight women are the problem here. As Kate Dries points out on Jezebel that is not what the research has found, saying, “PETA’s essentially falling into the trap of confusing ‘this drug might not work for people over X weight’ with ‘this drug doesn't work on fat people’”.
Animal rights activist and co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Ingrid Newkirk lies on a mock barbecue stand as a sign of protest in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013. Source: PETA Instagram
Absolutely nothing about this campaign makes sense. Not all vegans weigh under 75 kilos. Not all meat eaters weigh over 75 kilos. Not everyone above this weight is ‘overweight’. Not everyone over this weight is unhealthy and not everyone under this weight is healthy. Despite all this for some reason PETA has decided to frame their message around a tired ‘Eww, never be fat, ladies’ mindset. There are so many social or ethical arguments as to why someone would choose to be vegan or vegetarian that losing weight so they can use a contraceptive would be incredibly far down the list of compelling reasons. If PETA truly think this is a convincing argument to go vegan they really need to get some fresh blood in their think tank.
At this point PETA is like a small child who makes trouble to get attention and they don’t care if it’s good or bad attention – they just want to be noticed NOW NOW NOW. It’s as if whoever comes up with their marketing messages heard in some lecture hall that advertising is designed to capture attention and persuade the viewer to a certain action – but fell asleep halfway through that sentence. Nothing about this campaign would make any woman want to stop eating meat – I’d be surprised if this message didn’t almost inspire a few vegans to a bacon fry up.
So how do we solve a problem like PETA? Some might argue that reporting on their misguided campaigns only encourages them to make more misguided campaigns, but I disagree. PETA only exists with the help of its supporters, and anyone who supports the organisation should be made aware that their calls for ethical treatment don’t seem to extend to women. PETA’s campaigns are objectifying, passé and lazy, and they deserve to be criticised for continuing to do this as a cornerstone of their marketing philosophy. Maybe at some point they’ll actually listen and go for ‘Plan Be’ (that’s short for ‘Plan Be Quiet and Stop Telling Women What to Do with Their Bodies’).