It's probably not surprising based on my writing not one, but two makeup articles at the incredibly kickass Indie Chicks, that I take my makeup--or "warpaint" as I usually call it--seriously. (Unless you're not up on my pieces at IC, then you're probably just fucking surprised that a filthy tomboy like me wears makeup at all.) As much as I enjoy playing with my warpaint though, I've always bought makeup that is cruelty-free to the best of my knowledge since there are a bunch of nasty little tricks that companies can employ to snatch that "cruelty-free" tag while still testing on animals. My Jewels wrote a brilliant piece on cruelty-free makeup that outlines some of these tricks.
Urban Decay has long since been my favourite makeup company for their bright, shimmery colours, but most importantly because they have been cruelty-free (again, as far as can be told) since the company first started. Today, however, Urban Decay announced that they are expanding their company to China where animal testing will be employed prior to any product being approved for sale within the country. I was extremely disappointed by UD's decison, and had already resolved to longer purchase their makeup, but then I read UD's press release about their expansion to China and I went on one epic, angry, white girl rant. You can read the entire release here, but I'm going to hit the highlights and tell you why they are such bullshit.
Urban Decay's release begins with one of the most fucking pedantic statements I have heard in a long time.
"...our brand does not test on animals, but the Chinese government might conduct a one-time test using our products".
First of all, I love how they point the finger at the Chinese government instead of shoving it up their own ass where it belongs since it does not matter if UD does the testing themselves, they are the ones signing on the dotted line saying that it's all good with them if the government wants to test away. The other thing I love is how they specify that the government "might" do a "one-time test" with their products. News flash, UD, the Chinese government reserves the right to test as many times as they want and you fucking know it. I'll spare you the gory details, but in a country known for its human rights violations, it's not difficult to imagine what the life of an animal test subject is like.
Urban Decay the continues with:
"The news that animal issues don’t even register with the average Chinese consumer was one of the biggest factors in our decision to go there....The battleground for animal rights is now in China, and we want to be there to encourage dialogue and provoke change."
Oh I see now. Their decision to enter the Chinese market is all in an effort to help stop animal testing there. It makes perfect sense now, in fact I think that we should employ this thinking even further. How about we sell tickets to a show where an adult is smacking around a child, while explaining that it's wrong to hit children, to try and stop child abuse?
And speaking of human rights, Urban Decay further states,
"We also hope to shed some light on women’s rights issues in China. For one thing, going into China is a way for us to advance women into important professional positions. We will help grow the cosmetics industry, which primarily employs and creates career paths for women."
The level of bullshit in this statement is ridiculous I can't even believe that I'm reading it. Urban Decay is not going to China to build cute little boutiques with cushy office suites, and paid time-off, they are going to build factories where workers will make about $200 a month (on average, some do make more) while working 60+ hours a week. The majority of factory workers in China remain in the same position for their entire lives--"opportunity for advancement" is a fucking joke. This is why their next statement of "We want to encourage a culture of consumers who care enough to buy cruelty-free products" is a complete joke as well. The average Chinese woman is more concerned with trying to feed her family on her slave wages than buying makeup.
No, this all comes down to the almighty dollar. As with the majority of products manufactured in China, the factory worker who creates the product can never hope to afford what they are producing. Urban Decay will "expand its market" to China by using the country for its cheap labour and then ship the products back to the US, Canada and Europe where I highly doubt that the final price will reflect how much less was spent in its production.
I'm aware that this, unfortunately, is a normal practice for US companies, and I am as guilty as every other US citizen for buying products created through the exploitation of third-world countries, but what angers me so much about Urban Decay is that they are trying to pass off their expansion as some sort of humanitarian/animal rights movement instead of the bid to increase profits that it is.
Urban Decay concludes the release with the chipper little,
"We understand that you might not like our decision, but we hope you can respect it."
No. I don't respect it. And I don't respect you, Urban Decay. For a company who creates products supposed to make things look pretty, you're pretty fucking ugly.
UPDATE: Almost exactly a month LATER, Urban Decay buckled under pressure and recinded their decison to sell in China and are again cruelty-free
UPDATE 2: Urban Decay has been sold to L'Oreal, a non-cruelty-free makeup company, so I'm back to hating Urban Decay.