I haven’t been cruelty-free for long, just a little over a year now. I have very distinct memories of watching Legally Blonde 2 in high school but not really thinking there was any fact behind the comedy when it came to the animal testing talked about in that movie. Don’t get me wrong, I knew animal testing was a thing that happened in the cosmetics industry, but I blissfully and very optimistically believed that it wasn’t present or prevalent in society. So, for 20 years I went through life buying whatever makeup struck my eye or was being hyped up in commercials and magazines everywhere.
Because I was so blissfully unaware of the situation, I think this is was made me so shocked when I stumbled upon a post on Pinterest titled “2016 cruelty-free cheat sheet.” With my optimism, I figured everything would be cruelty-free because if science has a way of cloning animals then it certainly has had to have figured out a way to remove animal testing from its chemical testing process. Finding this post was a true awakening for me. Immediately that Saturday I sat down and devoted however long it was going to take to completely purge all items deemed not cruelty-free from my life. I didn’t care that I had already purchased the product and thus supported the company in their testing, I wanted everything gone.
My friends certainly didn’t complain when I gifted them hundreds of dollars in makeup, because really who is going to question when your friend hands you a bag filled solely with Tom Ford lipsticks. But the more I started telling people why I was giving away all these products, the more I began to notice something strange happen: Not a single person truly cared. Whether I was in the bathroom of my sorority house talking about toothpaste as we brushed our teeth, or standing in the aisles of Sephora as my friends piled items into their basket, no one who I told cared one bit that they’re supporting the continued testing, and dare I say torture, of innocent animals.
Maybe I’m in a unique position because in my major the principal of empathy is emphasized over and over again. Maybe I empathize with the animals, as strange as that sounds. I’m not trying to insinuate that my friends aren’t empathetic, but I’m trying to understand and rationalize why my closest friends aren’t bothered to change their lifestyles like I was when I found out a treatment I thought was so ancient was still being practiced BY LAW in some countries.
I’ve started noticing one of my friends has become more conscientious of companies that are cruelty-free or not when we’re out shopping. I’ve even noticed her recently be compiling products that are cruelty-free as well. Who’s to say whether her change in habits is because of the amount of time we’ve spent together, or due to the quantity of big name brands that are openly transparent about their cruelty-free status I cannot say for sure. However, it is reassuring to see that it is possible to influence another’s actions to help support your cause, it’s just a matter of pushing through their comforts of purchasing the same tried and true products that they gravitate towards everytime they’re in a store.
Maybe it’s a behavioral change rather than a state of mind that needs to be changed in order to get people more motivated to take part in the cruelty-free movement. I find it disheartening when individuals don’t care about how their actions can affect the lives of innocent creatures, but that in itself seems to be a huge issue radiating across this country especially. Through the art pieces I’m working to create, I would love to dig deeper and explore why people are so receptive to my changing lifestyle but are hesitant and often times highly resistant to taking the leap themselves.