Jeffree Star, James Charles, and other influencers are facing backlash for 'exploiting animals' and posing with monkeys to promote a fashion brand
- Fashion brand Bananas Monkey recently sent a baboon and capuchin monkey to the homes of Jeffree Star, James Charles, and other influencers to promote its clothing.
- Though it's unclear who created the fashion company, some people think controversial YouTubers Austin and Catherine McBroom of the Ace Family are behind it.
- People online are now arguing that the photos and videos exploit animals and encourage people to seek out wild species as pets that they can't properly care for.
- Debbie Metzler of PETA also told Insider that Bananas Monkey and the influencers promoting the brand are "helping to fuel" a "shady" industry that forcefully separates baby monkeys from their mothers to raise them as pets.
Influencers across the internet are facing backlash for "exploiting animals" by posing with two monkeys — one of which was on a leash — to promote a fashion company.
Late last week, photos and videos showing influencers like Jeffree Star and James Charles posing outside their homes with a baboon and capuchin monkey on their shoulders began to circulate on Instagram. The animals were seemingly brought to the internet stars by Bananas Monkey, a new clothing brand that sells sweatpants, T-shirts, and other leisure clothing.
Now, the influencers are being criticized for exploiting animals, encouraging private ownership of wild species, and in some cases, being hypocritical for posing with monkeys when they often promote cruelty-free beauty products.
Fashion brand Bananas Monkey sent two primates to the homes of Jeffree Star, James Charles, and other influencers
According to its website, Bananas Monkey aims to help shoppers "embrace the unconventional" through clothes that add "an offbeat twist to classic silhouettes." While it's unclear who created the brand, people have speculated that controversial YouTubers Austin and Catherine McBroom of the Ace Family — who have both promoted the company on Instagram — are behind it.
Representatives for the Ace Family did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Bananas Monkey posted its first Instagram photos on Tuesday, and the company already has more than 173,000 followers on the platform. The large follower count is likely the result of Bananas Monkey's promotional efforts on Instagram, in which it sent a baboon and capuchin monkey to the homes of influencers for photo opportunities.
Journalist Yashar Ali shared a compilation video of Star, Charles, Michael Yerger, and Daisy Keech posing with the animals on Twitter.
—Yashar Ali (@yashar) November 11, 2020
People are now accusing Star, Charles, and other influencers of 'exploiting animals' and promoting private ownership of wild species
Fans of beauty YouTubers, in particular, have been outspoken against the photos of Charles and Star posing with monkeys in a Reddit thread.
"This is so exploitative and gross, just wow," Redditor serramx wrote. "Those monkeys are living beings, not props! The brand is terrible for using them this way, but those influencers are just as bad for supporting and promoting this."
"This is honestly disgusting," the Reddit user unknownacorn added. "This is why people think they can have these types of animals as pets. They are still wild animals and do not deserve this kind of life."
Others shared their thoughts on the Bananas Monkey campaign via Twitter.
—Kendall (@Kennydoesmakeup) November 10, 2020
—Benjamin ;) (@benj_eryx) November 9, 2020
Some said they were especially bothered by Star's decision to pose with the monkeys, and pointed out that he included a live alligator in his latest makeup campaign video. On Twitter, people argued that Star's photos and videos with wild animals contradict his promotion of vegan and cruelty-free products through Jeffree Star Cosmetics.
—Lucinda van 't Hull (@LucindavantHul1) November 10, 2020
—Ellexo74 (@Elle8164) November 10, 2020
—n i c k y (@nxjm_) November 9, 2020
—tiaira (@tiairalynn) November 8, 2020
Representatives for Bananas Monkey, Star, Jeffree Star Cosmetics, and Charles did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Animal-rights organization PETA told Insider that Bananas Monkey and the influencers promoting the brand are 'helping to fuel' a dangerous animal-trade industry
Wild animals are commonly used as props online. As Nickolaus Hines previously reported for Insider, exotic pets including foxes, raccoons, and kinkajous are especially popular on TikTok.
The TikTok videos — like influencer photos showing wild animals in captivity — can encourage viewers to seek out exotic animals as pets, and therefore bring potential harm to both the creatures and their owners, as Hines reported.
—julie-annstream confetti (@jamesycharley) November 10, 2020
Debbie Metzler — the foundation associate director of captive animal law enforcement for PETA — argues that's especially true for primates, which she said are part of a "shady" industry that forcefully separates babies from their mothers to be raised as pets.
As National Geographic previously reported, monkeys sold in the pet trade can come from zoos and laboratories. Breeders, however, often take baby primates from their mothers as early as three days old, and later give them stuffed animals, blankets, or other inanimate objects in place of their mothers. The animals can then go on to develop abnormal behaviors in their youth, according to the publication, and even become dangerous as they reach sexual maturity.
Metzler went on to say that by posing with captive primates for photos, influencers and brands like Bananas Monkey are "helping to fuel" the controversial animal trade.
In response to this specific campaign from Bananas Monkey, Metzler said PETA will submit a complaint to the US Department of Agriculture in the hopes of encouraging it to "investigate these incidents for apparent violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act."
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