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Heather Chase

Heather is the founder of Models with Conscience, author of the excellent "Beauty Without the Beasts", accomplished model and Genesis Awards presenter. She is recipient of a commendation from The Giraffe Project and a “Positive Notes” award from the Earth Island Journal for her work on behalf of animals. Models with Conscience has been featured in publications in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

VeggieBite ...
Recent research has found that vegetarians live up to 6 years longer than their meat-eating counterparts.

Update 2007

Heartfelt greetings to all VeggieGlobal and Looking-Glass visitors!

I hope all of you are doing well.
Although last year I "retired" from serving as awards plaque presenter for the Humane Society of the United States' annual Genesis Awards, I still participate in nominating candidates throughout the year and thought you might like a summary of this year's awards.
As you might know, the Genesis Awards is a formal awards ceremony held in Beverly Hills, California and televised throughout the U.S. It honors members of the major media whose work (from newspaper articles to major motion pictures) increases public awareness of animal issues. In March of 2007, the Genesis Awards celebrated its 21st anniversary with a new format.
For the first time in the event's history, there were so many worthy candidates that three nominees were named in each of eighteen categories and the final recipient was announced at the ceremony. This year's event also honored Genesis Awards founder-Broadway headliner and forty-year animal advocate, Gretchen Wyler. Sadly, Ms. Wyler is currently suffering from cancer. The 800-member audience was deeply moved as she made a special appearance and presented an award in her name.
The first-ever Wyler Award went to musician and long-time animal advocate Sir Paul McCartney, who accepted it via videotape.
Another highlight of the evening was a standing ovation for chef Wolfgang Puck, who recently announced that he would no longer serve foie gras and that he would adopt higher humane standards for animal products used by his company.
Among this year's eighteen Genesis Award recipients were well-known productions such as: The Simpsons (Sid Caesar Comedy Award), Charlotte's Web (Outstanding Family Feature Film), Happy Feet (Outstanding Family Feature-Animated), Larry King Live (Outstanding TV Talk Show), Rolling Stone (Outstanding Written Word), Fast Food Nation (Outstanding Feature Film), and other productions that address animal issues. Announcing the recipients were celebrities such as James Cromwell, Bill Maher, Wendie Malick, Debra Wilson Skelton, Amy Smart, Ben Stein, and other stars who shined for the animals.

Fur ...

I don’t know why fur is coming back into fashion.
Perhaps people are rebelling against being “politically correct.” Perhaps they see activists’ dramatic demonstrations of throwing paint onto fur-clad runway models and the like as radical - and do not want to be seen as radical. Perhaps they dismiss the demonstrations without understanding the motivation behind the demonstrations. Activists may be more effective by decreasing such dramatic demonstrations and increasing educational outreach.
People are usually willing to listen with an open mind if the information is presented in a calm, factual, non-threatening manner, and if they are treated respectfully.
There is a man in New York who uses vans equipped with large televisions to broadcast actual footage of furbearing animals being trapped, struggling desperately, and dying for their fur.
I had seen still photos of similar scenes before, but not video footage. When I saw it in a powerful video called “The Witness” (described at http://www.tribeofheart.org) it was so heart wrenching that I had tears streaming down my face. So did passersby's who saw the footage as the van slowly cruised the streets of New York. Viewers were visibly shocked and horrified, and some were also in tears.
I think that if more people saw such footage, either on a van in their city, or on television screens in their homes, it would help them to understand the gruesome reality behind the fur trade, to have a change of heart, and to stop buying fur garments.
I wonder if any animal rights groups have considered buying airtime (as in an infomercial) on a major network and broadcasting an educational program showing graphic footage of the suffering associated with fur, as well as the stylish, cruelty-free alternatives to fur, such as Oleg Cassini’s line of astoundingly realistic yet entirely faux “Evolutionary Fur.” A program like this could be expensive, but I think it could also be highly effective. After all, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million!

The threshold of compassion ...

I often wonder, "Why?".
Why is there so much cruelty and violence in our world? Why don't more of us care about other people, the animals, or the environment? Why don't more of us learn about the problems facing our world and take action to alleviate those problems? Indeed, these are complex questions. Perhaps one answer has to do with our own emotional health. Many of us are taught from an early age to suppress our feelings, especially those that are viewed as being negative or not polite. We are taught to do as we are told, to grin and bear it. Boys, especially, are taught to deny sensitive feelings and to be "tough." Although our elders usually have good intentions in teaching us this lesson, namely wanting to help us be accepted in society, the lesson may also have undesirable side effects.
We might suppress our emotions until they erupt in violence. We might essentially turn off our ability to feel. Or, we might avoid situations that cause us to feel. None of these reactions is the healthiest in the long run. If we lash out violently, toward others or ourselves, how can we repair the damage that we have done? If we turn off our feelings, how can we empathize with other beings and be motivated to help them? If we stay in our comfort zone and avoid learning of others' suffering, how can we experience the satisfaction of feeling connected to our fellow beings, of doing something to help make a positive difference in our world? It seems that one step in creating a more humane, peaceful society is, rather than suppress or deny our feelings, to acknowledge them and learn healthy ways to deal with them. Perhaps by healing our emotional selves, we might be better able to help heal our world.

This concept is reinforced in a series of audiocassettes that I recently had the pleasure of hearing, Dr. Doris Jeanette's, A Natural Process for Opening the Heart. On the three tapes, Dr. Jeanette, a licensed psychologist and founder of the Center for the New Psychology, points out that it is healthier, not to dwell on, suppress, loose control of, or deny our feelings, but rather, to acknowledge, process, and release them. Then we are better able to be more free and joyful, and we are better able to empathize with other beings. When we are in touch with our own feelings, it stands to reason that we are less likely to do things that might hurt other people, or hurt the animals or the environment. We know what suffering feels like and do not want to inflict suffering upon others. With her soothing voice, Dr. Jeanette gently guides listeners through breathing exercises and visualization processes designed to help reawaken feelings, some of which may have been suppressed since childhood, and to process and release them. I found the series quite helpful and particularly appreciated the breathing exercises and the concept that allowing ourselves to feel and heal is an important step in helping the planet to heal. The series, available on CD or cassette at www.drjeanette.com, could be a meaningful gift for loved ones and a valuable tool for activists, helping us to do a sort of inner activism so that we may be healthier, more effective agents of change, so that we may, in Mahatma Gandhi's words, "be the change we wish to see in the world." do a sort of inner activism so that we may be healthier, more effective agents of change, so that we may, in Mahatma Gandhi's words, "be the change we wish to see in the world."

I am always delighted to be among you in this online universe for global compassionates. Where else can you find so much helpful information about humanitarianism, environmentalism, and animal protection all in one place?
I enthusiastically applaud the creators of VeggieGlobal and Looking-Glass and all who care enough to explore these sites in hopes of improving the world we all share. I am honored to have this opportunity to share my thoughts with you here.

Heather

If you would like more information about the Genesis Awards, feel free to visit the Humane Society of the United States' Web site at www.hsus.org.

Send your comments to Heather Chase
Visit the Models with Conscience website
Back to the top of the Heather Chase Column

"Beauty Without the Beasts" is VeggieGlobal's Editors Choice. You can buy the book through Amazon

 

 

 

Picture Credits: Heather Chase (holding a guinea pig) wearing a synthetic fur-trimmed jacket by Esprit. Photo by Russell Tanoue, make-up by Jessica Campo, hair by Danica Winters

More Looking-Glass and VeggieGlobal columnists
Looking-Glass News story about the resurgence of fur in fashion
Send your comments to Heather Chase

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