Sometimes I come across a story that just makes my blood boil.
This week supermodel Elle Macpherson admitted to eating powdered rhinoceros horn as a “beauty treatment”. Yes, in case you missed it, I just said that a woman in her late forties — whose net worth is estimated at over 40 million dollars — ingests a product made from the illegal poaching of an endangered species. And why? Because the model and TV host wants to achieve some sort of vague superficial benefit from the horn — a benefit, I might add, that has not been proven in any concrete scientific study.
It is another example of how human beings think that animals exist on this planet for no purpose other than to provide them with resources and convenience. I don’t believe in the use of animals for any purpose, so I don’t like to get into the game of ranking some animal products as “better” or “worse”. But I had, however, taken for granted that awareness of certain animal issues had grown to the point where no one — especially not someone in a very public sphere — would unrepentantly admit to purchasing products manufactured by illegally killing animals on the brink of extinction. And why again: All for a purpose so obviously frivolous and superfluous as keeping them physically attractive as they age.
Models don’t get paid to be smart or ethical; they get paid to be attractive. And it is a sad sign of our culture that anyone would choose to violate international law and kill an endangered species for a remedy that, again, has no scientific basis.
I fear that with a person like Elle Macpherson endorsing such a cruel and obviously baseless “beauty treatment”, profits for those who make a living by killing animals on the brink of extinction might be at an all time high. If a species of rhinoceros goes extinct because Elle Macpherson told people that eating its horn would make them beautiful, do you think she would lose sleep over it? I bet not.
I hope, however, that the negative media attention she is receiving over this might serve the purpose of raising awareness about the plight of rhinos. Maybe a day will come soon when the public will turn their back on a celebrity for using illegal animal products instead of rushing to use them as well. Maybe…
UPDATE: Elle Macpherson has now stated that she never knowingly used or encouraged the use of rhino horn. It’s unclear whether she means that she was lying or joking in her previous interview but regardless we can only hope that the publicity has made her and a lot of other people realize how ignorant her actions were. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that her recanting on this point helps to deter other people from using these kinds of “beauty” remedies.
Photo: Manfred Werner - Tsui