The big news in the beauty world over the last few days has been Urban Decay's decision to sell product in China. This means the famously cruelty free/anti animal testing company is majorly compromising it's position for profit. And people are PISSED.
I spent five years of my adult life as a vegetarian (and most of high school not eating red meat because it was the best I could get my mom to agree to), and though I don't actively seek out cruelty free brands (the time I tried 7th Generation laundry soap to replace Tide and broke out in hives everywhere was a fun experience), I try to avoid the companies I know that make the worst decisions - L'oreal etc. I am a massive lover of animals and really really really not a fan of animal testing. I'm also not naive. I recognize that many of the components in our cosmetics, foods, household products and so on have previously been tested on animals- whether it was in development 40 years ago, or just one ingredient last week. Trying to not be a hypocrite, I try to live my life as best I can, making good choices when I can, and not preaching. I don't like preaching, mostly because no one really listens to me anyway.
I recently purchased my first MAC makeup, about two months ago. I've long admired MAC, long been intimidated by MAC - both the prices and the people. Then I realized it all costs the same. If I'm willing ot lay out 20$ for a mascara at Ulta or Sephora, why not try the products from MAC that I want to try? My first experience was good. The Super Husband took me to Square One Mall in Missisauga on a Friday night and I marched myself into the store- nervous. I'm a dork and I get really shy and I also didn't know what I wanted, just that I wanted to look and feel different. The MUA who worked on me was lovely, set me at ease and took a large chunk of my cash. I was thrilled. I've been thrilled with the product and I look forward to being able to purchase more. And then I found out that Estee Lauder, MAC's parent company, had decided to sell product in China, subjecting the cosmetics to mandatory animal testing. And the beauty world freaked out. So many people swore they'd throw all their MAC products, or finish what they have and never go back. I thought, well. First and foremost, Lauder is a business. They operate to make money first, make us feel beautiful a distant second. As a business, they have a right to market and sell their product in any country they chose.
Now I'm going to go on a side tangent about my feelings on China, in general. I've been to China twice, and I feel incredibly lucky to have had those experiences. I've spent time in the incredibly cosmopolitan cities of Hong Kong and Shanghai and I've spent time in tiny towns, eight hours from the nearest anything. I can't say I've seen the entire country, or that I understand China. I just have my own understanding of the place. Yes, the human rights crimes are beyond disgusting, yes the quality of life can be so appalling compared to what we have in the western world. But the people I met, for the overwhelming most part, were very happy people. Happy with the factory jobs, happy with the small towns or big cities. There are so many reasons to to judge and shit on China, but at the end of the day, we cannot police them. That is, in my opinion, a whole OTHER issue, politically, but we as the western world can hope they change, but we cannot change them and there are things we have to accept. For some reason that we cannot fathom, China wants to test cosmetics on animals to make sure they are safe for humans. Barbaric, backwards and unnecessary but right now, that is what they feel is the right course of action for their people.
Ok back to the MAC/Urban Decay debacle. Look, we forget that these companies that we become attached to are just that. Companies. Urban Decay may not be Enron, but at the end of the day, they are in it to sell product and make profit. To think anything otherwise is just foolish. We chose which companies we want to spend our money with and I fully understand the China issue being a breaking point for many many many makeup fans. But for me, it isn't a dealbreaker at this point. I am not buying cosmetics in China anytime soon (though I have in the past on my two trips there, plus really inexpensive eyeglasses), The cosmetics manufactured for the Western market will, from what I understand and I could be wrong but I hope I'm not, remain untested on animals going foward. Yes UD is losing the leaping bunny status and I suppose they deserve it, but I buy that they want to try to change the Chinese market from the inside out. It strikes me as something they would do. Maybe it is just smart PR and I'm buying it hook, line and sinker, but to me it is believable, plausable. Lauder's reasoning isn't as clear, or else their PR didn't work hard enough to come up with a good enough sounding bite for me. But I do believe that change can come from within and maybe it will be another fifty years before China realizes that they don't have to test mascara on a bunny rabbit, but if Urban Decay can take any of the credit for it then? I'm sure our kids will be pretty proud.
Live your life as best you can, respect the choices of others as best you can. It leads to harmony. Use MAC, use Urban Decay, use only indie mineral makeup made by the hippie aunt of your cousin's roommate's sister. You, the consumer, will ultimately put your money where your mouth is. Mine will be putting MAC Viva Glam 1 on my lips and hoping for the best.