Thousands of London shoppers, office workers, and tourists who stopped to look were subjected to a horrifying sight as a young woman was tortured in a high street shop window. The victim was restrained, force-fed, and injected with chemicals, and eventually, her inert body was dumped out with the trash.
Twenty-three-year-old Traide, dressed in nothing but a flesh-colored body stocking, endured 10 hours of brutal experiments in a bid to raise public awareness. While many of us know it happens, animal testing is hidden from sight behind the closed doors of laboratories, and Traide decided it was about time that people knew what they were buying into.
The young activist’s provocative performance was part of a huge campaign spearheaded by cruelty-free brand Lush Cosmetics and The Humane Society, incidentally the largest-ever global campaign to end animal testing for cosmetics. It took place in the shop window of a Lush store on Regent Street in London, one of the United Kingdom’s busiest shopping streets.
“I hope it will plant the seed of a new awareness in people to really start thinking about what they go out and buy, and what goes into producing it,” Traide told Daily Mail reporters before being pinned down on a bench with her mouth stretched open using two metal hooks.
A man in a white coat (performance artist Oliver Cronk) with his face concealed by a medical mask then force-fed the young woman. She choked, and tears streamed from her eyes. Onlookers recoiled in revulsion and disbelief.
Traide also endured being injected with needles and having her skin burned by abrasive lotions. But perhaps the biggest show of Traide’s commitment to the cause came later.
Passersby were truly shocked to witness the young social sculpture student being forced to have a section of her head shaved. She was then attached to electrodes and mimed electric shock convulsions in order to mimic similar practices in animal-testing laboratories.
Traide was performing, although she later admitted that while her discomfort was entirely consensual, it was often very real. Elsewhere in the world, helpless animals are being subjected to exactly the same sequence of torturous procedures, but without consent, without relief, and without need.
Traide was hurt, harmed, and humiliated in public, but she was allowed to go home at the end of the day. Laboratory animals, on the other hand, are routinely put to death after they have exhausted their usefulness.
“They are killing millions of animals a year. It’s a completely frivolous use,” Lush campaign manager Tamsin Omond said during live video coverage of Traide’s compelling performance. “Also it’s very unreliable, the data that you get, anyway.”
While the testing of cosmetic products on animals was banned in Britain in 1998, it is still legal in Britain to sell products that have been animal tested in other parts of the world, including the United States and Canada. In China, animal testing is a legal requirement.
Humane Society spokeswoman Wendy Higgins called it “morally unthinkable,” adding that there could be “no justification for subjecting animals to pain for the sake of producing lipstick and eye shadow.” The campaign to end animal testing for cosmetics is still going on today, because the problem persists.
“If it was a beagle in the window and we were doing all these things to it, we’d have the police and RSPCA here in minutes,” Omond commented. “Somewhere in the world, this kind of thing is happening to an animal every few seconds on average. The difference is, it’s normally hidden,” she observed.
“We need to remind people it is still going on.”