I had had no idea how animals suffer for food, fur, the circus, and animal testing. The videos shocked me to the core (especially “Free Me,”) and I started to get involved.
One day PETA called. They had my name from some volunteer list. I had signed up to, you know, stuff envelopes. Or walk dogs. But no. They were calling me in Alaska, to ask me to go naked. Like any normal person, I said no. I said no over and over and over. But three weeks later, a PETA campaigner flew up and there I was...really cold.
The PETA staffer, myself, and three others all stood behind a huge banner wearing nothing but underwear, slippers, and snowflakes. It was Fur Free Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and snowing like crazy. The banner said, “We’d Rather go Naked Than Wear Fur.” It was cold. It was embarrassing. It was scary. And it was wildly successful.
Alaska kills a lot of animals for fur, but nobody ever discussed it. That changed after our protest. Not only did the entire state talk about fur for weeks afterwards, our protest got International coverage. Millions of people saw it and thought about the cruelty of fur. PETA gave the media videos of animals being killed for fur, so they played shots of our protest mixed in with graphic images of animal suffering. So many eyes were opened!
PETA staff and volunteers don’t enjoy going naked. It’s awkward and cold and humiliating. But any discomfort we feel is nothing compared to what an animal feels as they are skinned alive for their fur. We must tell people how fur is made, so they stop buying it and fewer animals are killed for it.
We can send the media all the serious reports and videos we want—they won’t cover it. Let’s face it, it’s a tabloid world. But add one naked protest, or a person in a chicken costume, or a crazy idea that’s no more than a silly joke…and all of a sudden the media is all over it.
PETA’s budget is tiny. To put it in perspective: KFC, one of the worst animal abusers, spends $497 million dollars a year just on advertising. PETA’s entire annual budget is 32 million! So you see what we’re up against.
KFC can spend money on TV ads. PETA can’t. We must get media coverage to get the word out, or animal abuse will never stop. We prefer the serious work, but that doesn’t help animals if the public doesn’t know about it. PETA exists to help animals, but it’s humans who inflict the pain. And it’s humans who have the power to stop the pain. So we have to get humans to pay attention!
Animals suffer behind closed doors. Nobody sees them beaten in the slaughterhouse, or vomiting poison in the vivisection lab. If they stay hidden, the pain will never stop. PETA exposes the abuse to the world, and then we stop it. We’re up against the biggest corporations in the world. It’s a David and Goliath war. We don’t have billions of dollars and public apathy on our side, but we do have creativity, passion, and empathy. If a colorful street protest gets attention for animals, we’re going to do it!
It’s OK if the naked campaigns aren’t your favorites, but don’t diss them. They work. I know this: If I was being held prisoner in a windowless shed, being beaten and raped on a regular basis, I would want someone on the outside to do whatever it took to expose my plight. If they had to go naked to get attention for me, I would want them to! I figure animals would feel the same. That’s one reason why I’m so proud to work for PETA. We’re the only group doing whatever is effective to stop animal abuse, and we’re winning!
This post was written by Alex Bury in 2009.