Dress for Success when Advocating Animal Rights

Fragment from Effective Advocacy of Animal Rights
by Bruce Friedrich

The first principle from Carnegie that I want to cover is that we should look presentable so that our appearance does not distract from our message: the suffering of animals.

For years in the early ’90s, I had a full beard and shoulder-length hair, wore only clothes that I figured no one else would want, and refused to bathe more than once per week. I guarantee that since I began sporting a conservative (and less malodorous) appearance, I’ve persuaded many more people to become vegans.

Ask yourself: If you were the chicken on the factory farm, drugged and bred so that you couldn’t even stand up; or the pig in the slaughterhouse, drowning in boiling water, how would you want your advocates to look? I don’t believe that one’s personal desire to reject society’s biases regarding appearance is nearly as important as advocating effectively for animals.

If our goal is to be as effective as we possibly can be in behalf of animals, it is absolutely essential that we put our personal desires second to animals’ singular desire to have us be effective advocates.

Obviously, there are forums where green hair, body piercings, and ripped-up clothing are perfectly acceptable, but in most situations, when we reject mainstream society’s standards, we are limiting our capacity to help animals.

This argument applies to health as well. I am always amazed by advocates who ignore their own health. The fact is that if you look sickly or seem lethargic, you’ll be less effective as an advocate. If you are frequently sick, drop dead from a heart attack, or end up in the chemotherapy ward, you’re making veganism look bad, and you’re no longer able to help animals! Also, if your diet consists of junk food, other potential vegans will think that’s all that vegans can eat, and they’ll be less likely to want to be a part of it.