We were told by the speaker that as activists and advocates for animals we should consider the way be present our bodies to the public. That the personal choices illustrated on the slide (illustrated by humans who had not given consent for their images to be lifted from Google), the tattoos, the piercings, the ‘mohawks’, can put people off the movement and will make you less able to make connections and have conversations with the public and moreover will make you a less effective voice for animals. She urged that these ‘radical’ body choices, adopted by many in the movement, make veganism less accessible to the mainstream; and further, she expressed that vegans who have a ‘non-normie’ style cannot look ‘professional’ enough to present our factual pleas for animals and be taken seriously. My heart began to pound, my hands shaking. I felt personally attacked. I felt that my friends were attacked. I felt that our movement was being attacked.I, as someone who has chosen a near full body of tattoos. I’ve had years of dabbling with hair colours and piercings (some brilliant pinks and some terrible bleach-y orange disasters!). I can say with total and honest truth that all of my body modification choices have made me more comfortable and content in my human vessel, and furthermore more confident, outgoing and happy to talk to the public in my animal advocacy. On this thought, I wonder without my experience in the UK DIY punk and hardcore music scene, whether I’d even be here, at the AR conference. Hand-in-hand with that came the tattoos, the political discussion and ultimately the move to veganism. Yet I’m being told, by the person on the pedestal of the stage that this body, in fact, makes me a less effective advocate for animals. I’ve marched, I’ve liberated, I’ve set up campaigns, support groups, social media sites and vlogs, I’ve blocked roads, I’ve shouted, I’ve whispered, I’ve discussed, I’ve committed, but this was all weakened by my choice to decorate my skin?

Today I was told that I am not an effective animal advocate, because of my tattoos.