Home » The five-year battle between designers Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and PETA

The five-year battle between designers Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and PETA

By Justine Espersen

Since 2007, animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) continues to denounce fashion duo Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen in their use of animal furs and skins in their designer handbags.

The twin designers released their most recent design of a $16,900 backpack made of animal pelts. PETA was quick to give their disgust and disregard for the Olsens’ recent design.

“If you wear a big dead animal on your back, you’re going to look like a troll,” Marta Holmberg, Associate Director of Youth Outreaching, said in a phone interview.

PETA coined the terms “Hairy Kate and Trashley Trollsen” to help add a negative appeal to the designers.
“We started the campaign [in 2007] as a way to raise awareness,” Holmberg said. “People need to know that real beauty comes from the heart.”

Apart of bringing awareness, PETA went even further to make a spoof on the twins’ well-known television show, “Full House,” remaking it into “Full House of Horrors.” The spin on the 90s T.V. show features a man from the 21st century foretelling the Olsen twins’ future as “hideous, pelt-pushing fur-hag[s],” according to the site.

However, the video and several more campaigns are only featured on the sister site, peta2.com, which is indicated for youth viewership between ages 13 and 21. This is due to the different interest/tactics among the different age groups.

“They’ve grown up with the Olsen twins, looked up to them as role models,” Holmberg said. “Now, [fans] no longer support them.”

Despite PETA’s efforts, their name-calling, “Full House” rehashing and protests have not gained the confrontation of the Olsen twins. Prior to making the organization’s disapproval public, the corporate affairs department reached out to the designers/groups that misused products made of fur and skin.

“We work behind the scenes before taking them public,” Holmberg said. “We won’t stop speaking up until Mary Kate and Ashley Trollsen stop.”

The controversial and degrading names, “Hairy Kate and Trashley Trollsen,” to describe the twins have been looked down upon by both supporters and non-supporters. One supporter of PETA considered them as “mean-spirited extremists” while another said, “I think PETA needs to realize that attacking humans won’t stop anyone from killing animals.”

Regardless, PETA considers it important to use controversial tactics to raise awareness among people about the use of animals in a cruel manner.

According to their website, they do this in order to “get the animal rights message out to as many people as possible,” making their “actions colorful and controversial.” This is in order to help gain the media’s attention; however, it is usually seen in a negative light rather than positive.

“Compare the fact that we raise awareness every year as millions of animals are losing lives, there’s no comparison,” Holmberg said when asked about readers accusing him of attacking humans.

“Despite the fact that we haven’t heard from the Olsens, we’re really making a big difference in the public.”

“We are here to speak up for animals, speaking up in anyway we can,” Holmberg said. “We just want to get the message out there.”

Holmberg did, however, note that PETA does organize events that are not as colorful and arguable, compared to throwing paint on those wearing fur and using harsh words. This includes providing several mobile neuter/spray clinics to help fight overpopulation among animals.

With the Olsens’ production of the backpack made of animal furs, the idea of using road kill for furs was brought to their attention; however, it is not considered as much of a logical resource.

“It’s better of course, but it’s not a way to keep with the number of products–it wouldn’t make sense,” Holmberg said.

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