Invisible Seen: CoverT Girl

Students in Ali Stewart-Ito’s Honors American Literature class were asked to create a graphic vignette that makes visible someone, something, or some intangible concept that has been “disappeared,” or is otherwise “invisible.” Accompanying the graphic, students wrote statements of intent explaining what they tried to make visible, why they chose that topic, and how their image brings the subject matter to light. To make the students’ topics even more visible and to bring the topics more attention, the Cardinal is publishing a few of the impressive final products. Here is one of them:

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Over 70% of people in America own a pet. People have even recognized that dogs are a man’s best friend. Pets have worked their way not just into our homes, but into our hearts as a member of the family.

Right now, millions of rabbits, primates, cats, dogs, and other animals are locked inside cold, barren cages in laboratories across the country. These hapless animals languish in pain, ache with loneliness, and long to be in a safe and caring environment. The majority of us are unwitting of the fact that this wanton treatment is occurring. More than 100 million animals every year suffer and die in cruel chemical, drug, food, and cosmetic tests.

I chose to bring attention to this issue because many don’t understand the gravity of the situation animals are in. Women routinely put on their make up each day in a facile manner, giving no thought to the creation process of such beauty products.

In another case, SeaWorld and their whale attractions suck in 11 million tourists every year. Besides just sitting in awe over Shamu bounding out of the water or gesticulating with his handlers, you have to look behind the scenes. Because of the treatment the whales receive, they become aggressive, raking each other in the small tanks. These living conditions also cause their dorsal fins to curl over and not stand straight.

It is an entirely quixotic idea to think that this is a natural or even healthy environment for these creatures. In both the cases of animal testing and the whale environment at SeaWorld, animals are put into helpless situations that are latent from the public. We need to wipe the makeup off our eyes, open them to the fabrications told by brands, and advocate for the animals.

To show this concept in my visual I used three juxtaposed images to illustrate what people see on the surface, the animals, and the outcome of the treatments. The first row shows how people blindly use makeup and wear different furs without thinking of commonly affected animals, like rabbits. Then the third panel shows the reality of the situation.

In the second row, the first panel shows how people come to see the popular whale shows. It progresses to the issue of small tanks, hence the whale in a fish bowl caricature, and ends with the rakes that whales inflict upon each other as a result. The title of the first strip, CoverT Girl, is there to shed light on the fact that CoverGirl still uses animal testing, which they do not openly acknowledge or display.

The second strip says “where happiness TANKS” to emphasize the issue of tank size and the unhappiness of the whales. I also chose to not have any dialogue because I wanted to show that animals communicate to us in other ways. Overall, just because animals can’t directly communicate with us to ask for help, doesn’t mean we shouldn't be actively providing it. By doing so we can make this seemingly invisible issue visible, and then hopefully the issue will vanish.