To work in fashion journalism is to be ambushed with sensationalist subject lines like “REVEALED: Taylor Swift’s favourite perfume is NOT what you’d expect,” and “Boohoo fashion EXPERTS reveal the most Instagrammable FESTIVALCORE trends.” But perhaps the most disconcerting of those emails arrived this afternoon when animal rights organisation PETA sent out a press blast detailing its founder’s last will and testament. “PETA President Bequeaths Skin to Hermès,” the subject line read, alongside a blood-curdling infographic outlining the different body parts that Ingrid Newkirk would donate to various brands, individuals, and the home office once she dies.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of the beneficiaries: Hermès will receive a bag (or a belt) crafted out of Newkirk’s cured skin; Salt Bae will receive her intestines; The North Face will receive her foot; barbers Truefitt & Hill will receive a hairbrush made of her own hair; King Felipe VI of Spain will receive an ear; and Crufts will receive fragments of her trachea. The whole thing has been billed as the final effort in a lifelong fight against something called “speciesism”. Why be zoophobic when you can just request that your severed leg be displayed at the Grand National? Why support a human-supremacist system when you can make plans for your flesh to be fried “with onions” as part of a celebratory barbecue?
According to Newkirk, the will ensures that her body “will be used to draw attention to needless animal suffering and exploitation”. It means the horrors of animal abuse – like the UK’s decision to resume animal testing for cosmetics–will be writ onto her own flesh, savaged and grilled and sent off in vacuum-packed sandwich bags. It also means that PETA will continue to be as disturbing as possible in its efforts to court public attention long after her demise. But this final decree isn’t just an attempt to gorebait people into eating Quorn, it’s also a poignant document of a devoted Formula 1 fan. Towards the end of the will, Newkirk reveals that she would like pieces of her heart to be buried beneath the Hockenheim and Silverstone racetracks – those petrol-spluttering stadiums of CO2 emissions and burnt rubber – as a love letter to Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton.