People for the Ethical Treatment of Obama

PETA is in some hot water (again) for using first lady Michelle Obama’s image in one of their ads without her permission. PETA pres Ingrid Newkirk says they didn’t get Obama’s permission because, well, they knew she would have said no. Since this is the same rationale I used when I “borrowed” my mom’s car before I had a driver’s license, I happen to know firsthand that the I-didn’t-ask-because-you’d-say-no excuse doesn’t work too well.

Says Newkirk, “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.”

Here’s the ad:

That’s Oprah Winfrey, Carrie Underwood, and Tyra Banks in the ad with Obama (no word as to whether or not they gave their permission, which probably means that they did – or they just don’t care enough to say anything).

Though this ad itself is pretty harmless (due in part to the fact that it just isn’t very interesting), I for one am sick and tired of PETA’s bullshit campaign tactics. If they aren’t illegally using someone’s image, they’re fat-shaming everyone they can get their hands on, or objectifying the crap out of various women in order to peddle their message of respecting all life forms. I don’t know about you, but it’s just not working for this animal lover.

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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24 Comments Have Been Posted


Isn't it, uh, <i>illegal</i> to use someone's likeness in print without their permission?

Best. Left-wing straw man. Ever.

If I were a right winger who wanted to invent an organization that would make animal rights and welfare (as well as sustainability issues) look as ridiculous as possible, I couldn't have done better than PETA.


I think the way PETA regularly objectifies women is much more troublesome than this. I Hate PETA. Yep, with a capital "H" and all. And I lean vegetarian/vegan and buy animal-friendly goods. I'm just exhausted with their campaigns of naked women....which have to do with animal!

The group is a joke and should die so we can feast on their carcass. gag.


Sex can sell anything.

it's not illegal to use a

it's not illegal to use a photo of a public figure as long as the photographer has given permission or if its a public image (not copyrighted).
There is no reason why everyone should be up in a tizzy about this. It's not like Michelle Obama could have given her blessing to the ad, then all the news would be talking about is how Michelle is a peta supporter. She just doesn't wear fur and peta is saying, hey world you should be like michelle obama and not wear fur.
b-i-g d-e-a-l!

Reality check

Really, people are getting their knickers in a bunch over an ad that trumpets the fact that Michelle Obama doesn't wear fur? Where were your knickers when PETA and other animal rights groups released footage showing animals being skinned alive; having their necks broken; and being anally and vaginally electrocuted for fur? I guess you reserve your greatest feelings of outrage for really important "issues." How about a reality check? View the video at:

I think this is a great effort to promote compassionate choices.

What a lovely portrait of strong women to promote a good cause.

Perfectly legal, folks

FYI: it's perfectly legal to use a public figure's image for a non-defamatory purpose.

Also, for the record, fur is disgusting and tacky.

It's really not a big deal

I'm pretty sure what they did was legal. They are a regular tax exempt non-profit organization just like United Way or the SPCA, and the government keeps a close eye on organizations like that. If they do something wrong, then they put themselves in jeopardy of losing their tax exempt status. Lots of media outlets criticize what celebrities wear (or don't wear) all the time, so how come when PETA does it, it's a big deal. Michelle Obama is a celebrity just like Oprah and Carrie Underwood (though for totally different reasons), and shouldn't have made a statement at all to PETA if she didn't want praise from it. Great job PETA, and thank's Obama for being fur free!

PETA works

What everyone needs to remember is that PETA's attention-grabbing campaigns bring tens of thousands of [curious, angry, incredulous] people to,,, etc., thereby making people aware of the horrible torture suffered by billions of animals every year. They may have gone there because they want to know what the "silly" group was doing with some strange stunt, but then they learn about animal rights issues.

In the unfortunate marketing culture of 2010 America, these are the tactics that get people's attention. Since animals cannot speak up for themselves, people with the power to act must make their suffering known to the world, in the meek hope that it will arouse sympathy in us humans who have the power to stop funding massive atrocities toward non-humans.

Personally, as a feminist, I'm getting a wee bit tired of other so-called feminists who spend more time bickering about PETA than they do reading the ever-growing literature about the interconnection between the suffering of animals and the suffering of women (and blacks, etc...) and acting on it by adopting a vegan diet.

As feminists it is our self-ascribed title and responsibility to identify with the oppressed and help them. This does not mean we should give PETA a free pass, but we should also keep our priorities straight. If you're going to support the oppressed, at least read the work of Carol Adams and become vegetarian before you start throwing rocks at PETA.

I, for one, became vegan because of PETA, and I am glad they exist.

Yes, perhaps.

Though I can tell that you mean to be facetious, Anonymous, the link you posted actually is quite similar to the PETA situation. A public figure's image is being used to sell products that s/he did not endorse, and that is unethical.

Should people get arrested over these ads? No, probably not. But should the organizations at fault (especially PETA, which has the word ETHICAL in its name) be held to a higher standard? I think so.

Nice try.

PETA isn't selling a product! PETA is selling compassion; doesn't get much more ethical than that!

Except... PETA seems to only

Except... PETA seems to only have compassion for animals and very few actual people. PETA hurts the case for vegetarianism more than it helps. And this is coming from someone who's been a vegetarian for 10 years and a vegan for 3.

What's the big deal??

Honestly, the ad looks great and is promoting Michelle Obama for her compassionate choices. Obama is a public figure and appears in the media all the time from newspapers to tabloids. So PETA gushes about her for making the right choice about fashion - big deal. I am baffled at why strong women in the feminist movement waste so much time bitching about other strong women in the animal rights movement. Geez.

Petas crap tactics

As a vegan I'm sick of PETA's crap tactics. They make us look like fools. Using the first Ladys picture without her permission is just gonna make them look like idiots again. I really don't think they do anything good for animal rights because they bring other causes a few decades backs. We can't rely on celebrity power to get the message across because most aren't even vegetarian they just love domestic pets (aka very small dogs) and they don't even contribute to the cause. PETA is just a big money barel spending there income in the wrong places. We need to take a more abolitionist aproach and promote veganism as a solution. PETA's campaing objectify women, promotes veganism as a weight loss solution and cries victory when a fast food chains come out with a veggie burger options. Most of PETA supporters aren't even vegetarian. Come on people something is seriously wrong. Let's all get informed and get our critical thinking on. No one should heart PETA.

PETA Rules

PETA is amazing. Everything they do serves a purpose - keeping animal rights on everyone's mind whether they want to think about it or not. Hate it or love it, they do it right - and the animals are all that matter in the end.

Have you all nothing else to get upset about?

The so-called "progressives" out there amaze me. They get all worked up over PETA buying a photo (which means they can use it as they see fit) of Michelle Obama and using it for a good cause; when they should really be upset with those who torture and kill animals for their fur. I guess people don't like being made uncomfortable. PETA does great work. Here is the latest example:

BTW, how is it that a "feminist" website has in its name the word "bitch" ? Where is the outrage!?!?!

It's called taking back the

It's called taking back the word. Had you even read the mission statement you'd understand that!

Pardon Me

...but my choice of food is just that, my choice. It is no one else's decision but my own what I put in my body. It doesn't make me a "bad feminist" just like it doesn't make me a bad person. So, I will continue to crunch my bacon whenever I wish.

Oh, come on. Bacon's LOUD.

Oh, come on.

Bacon's LOUD. I can't help it. D:

18 Below

None of the wealthy ass people have lived in Quebec, Yukon, Alaska.
But they are wearing leather shoes and big leather handbags.

food choices

to the person who thinks its her "choice" to eat bacon - that is exactly one of the big issues I have with non-animal rights people - why is it your CHOICE to torture and murder animals?

Just because you are human and they are not?

Does that argument remind you of anything?

Like its 'my right to have a slave' or its 'my choice to beat my wife' or its 'my choice to starve my dog on the end of my chain.' It implies that the slave, the wife, or the dog have no rights at all. Why shouldn't the cow, pig, chicken, etc have the right to live a life free from harm?
Please, it is not your choice - you are just using that as an excuse to cover up the pain and suffering you are causing by eating animals.
Good info here:

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