No strangers to controversy, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is up to its old tricks again. This time they’ve raised eyebrows by using an image of in an anti-fur advertisement without her permission. The White House is not pleased, to say the least.
The ad in question features the image of the first lady alongside the images of Oprah Winfrey, Tyra Banks, and Carrie Underwood underneath the slogan, “Fur-free and fabulous!” The ads, which PETA says features “a bevy of the smartest, most stylish, and most influential women in America,” are being plastered all over the Washington D.C. Metro mass transit system, in addition to appearing in various magazines and websites.
While Winfrey, Banks and Underwood are all on record as publicly endorsing PETA’s anti-fur efforts, first lady Michelle Obama cannot endorse special interest groups such as PETA. Thus, the White House is mildly perturbed by the use of the first lady’s image in the campaign.
“We did not consent to this,” a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama said yesterday.
For their part, PETA says that they will not take down the ads and maintains that Michelle Obama’s past anti-fur declarations essentially give them license to use her image in a campaign.
“We haven’t asked the White House to fund or promote the campaign, as they can’t do such things, but the fact is that Michelle Obama has issued a statement indicating that she doesn’t wear fur, and the world should know that in PETA’s eyes, that makes her pretty fabulous,” said PETA president Ingrid Newkirk in a statement.
The current flap with PETA isn’t the first time that Obama family members have been used without consent to promote political causes. Last August, a Washington nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting healthy school lunches came under fire for incorporating into a campaign to reform the Child Nutrition Act. The ads, which featured the image of a young African American girl, read, “President Obama‘s daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don’t I?” Just like PETA, the group, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Action, refused to remove the ads after the White House voiced their objections.
Not surprisingly, the images and likenesses of the first family have also been used without White House consent in the interest of free enterprise, perhaps most notably on Sasha and Malia and Michelle Obama dolls. Don’t be surprised at all when future controversies involving the unauthorized use of first family images arises, because it almost certainly will.
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