Author: Edwina Jones

Currently studying Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies/ Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Wollongong. I enjoy travel and aspire to work overseas after completing university.

Methodology & Epiphanies on China’s Cosmetic Market

I have been using the autoethnographic methodology for my current research into China and the banning of animal testing on cosmetics. In my previous blog, I utilised the narrative and layered accounts angle of autoethnography, explained by Ellis et al. (2011) as using data, abstract analysis, and relevant literature alongside the author’s experience. I decided that this was the best way to conduct my autoethnographic experience, since I could not physically travel to China and experience the animal testing in the cosmetic industry there myself. Therefore, I had to do the best I could with the Internet and my own personal understanding of animal testing in the cosmetic industry (which was limited). I attempted to critically read as many sources, both supporting and opposing the ban on animal testing in China. This lead me to create a firm viewpoint in which I could express my findings.

 

As I touched on lightly in my previous blog, I was first drawn to this topic to expand my mind about an issue I have avoided previously. This is partly due to my farm upbringing and avoidance of topics that conflict with my support of the agricultural industry. While I agree with the purpose of animals as a source of food, I do not entirely agree with using animals for scientific testing. Also, enforcing this belief in not using animals for testing purposes, is that technological advances offer more and if not better alternatives to animal testing in the cosmetic and health industries.

 

This autoethnographic style article written by Thomas Hartung (2008), expresses his views based on his personal experience of years working in the field, on the EU changes in cosmetic animal testing. It helped to inform how I expressed my own research on the topic in China, due to my limited experience and expertise in the industry. It enforced my approach as writing a personal story on how I reacted to the research rather than focusing on the facts of the situation, so that my readers can empathise with the research rather than critique its content. Ellis et al. (2008) discusses how verisimilitude evokes a feeling in readers with the experience as lifelike, believable and possible. It was according to this that I attempted to persuade my readers at the end to think about their own personal choices when it comes to purchasing cosmetic products, because they do have the ability to make a change. Even though my readers are mostly Australian University students, and my blog discusses the Chinese market, there are parallels that can be drawn between the two and implicated within our lives.

 

Another aspect of autoethnography that I employed in my research is, explained by Holman, Jones (2005, p.764) as “researching and writing socially-just acts; rather than a preoccupation with accuracy” and to also use “analytical, accessible texts that change us and the world we live for the better”. This influenced the aspect of my research, I decided to delve into a subject that isn’t too well known and just scratch the surface to spread awareness. This provides the audience with the opportunity to look into the topic in more depth and make their own conclusions. My experience is included only to attract others attention who may not usually be interested in the subject.

 

During my research I had a few major epiphany moments, that I documented in my notes whilst I was investigating the Chinese cosmetic market. My first epiphany was questioning what alternatives are used instead of animals for testing cosmetic products? This was an important question for me and discovering the answer dictated how I continued my research. I learnt more about how the technological advances have made it possible and irrelevant for the use of animals to be tested on.

 

Another epiphany was regarding my interest in the Marketing and Public Relations aspect of my research, these communicators have a large part to play in spreading information and awareness of animal testing in global markets. I was researching into the Marketing Agency, Gentleman Marketing Agency, and noticed that they have an interest in seeing a cruelty-free cosmetic market, yet little has been done to spread this awareness, presumably due to the clients they are working for. This lead me to noting the opportunity for Marketing and Public Relations, along with the Media, to do their part in stopping animal testing, through advertisements and communication.

 

My understanding of using the autoethnography when conducting research after this experience, has taught me that it can be a useful tool when attempting to generate interest surrounding a topic. By using personal experience, audiences are drawn and are more personally interested in the topic, rather than a dry straight academic recounting of a topic.

 

 

 

 

References:

Ellis, C, Adams, T.E & Bochner, A.P. 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 12, No. 1, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095&gt;

Gentleman Marketing Agency 2017, Welcoming Gesture of China for non-animal tested imported cosmetic products,Cosmetics China Agency, viewed 8th September 2017, < http://cosmeticschinaagency.com/welcoming-gesture-china-non-animal-tested-imported-cosmetic-products/&gt;

Hartung, T & Leist, M 2008, ‘Food for thought on the evolution of toxicology and the phasing out of animal testing’, University of Konstanz, vol. 2, pp. 91-96. <http://kops.uni-konstanz.de/bitstream/handle/123456789/8336/Altex2008hartungLeistUK.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y&gt;

Holman Jones, Stacy (2005). Autoethnography: Making the personal political. In Norman K. Denzin & Yvonna S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp.763-791). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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China and its Cosmetic, Cruelty Free Future

We are so blinded by our obsessions to consume and wear makeup, always trying to upkeep with different brands and different styles created by markets. We forget to stop and think about where exactly these products are coming from, and who is suffering in the process. Media has always portrayed the beauty industry as being illustrious and something to aspire to, yet for years has neglected how animals have been used to ensure the success of our brands. In recent years, there has been an immergence of understanding amongst the public about how animals are being tested on so that the products that hit our shelves won’t harm us.

 

We live in a technological age where, new advances in non-animal testing is becoming increasingly more accessible. It is reaching the point where we now have suitable, and in some cases more successful alternatives to animal testing. PETA often funds research into non-animal testing options such as, the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS). See here for more information.

 

The Australian cosmetic industry is far from being totally cruelty free, but it made me think about other countries such as China, and what the standard for animal testing is there. I will also glance into this issue from a Public Relations and Marketing perspective. This is because I have a personal interest (as a PR & Marketing student) in how these shape and influence the issue.

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Source: Gentleman Marketing Agency 2016

The intention of this research was to personally learn more about a topic I would usually avoid and widen my perspective on animal rights, through a case study of the Chinese cosmetic industry. Up to this point, I have not actively searched Animal Rights issues and ignored cases regarding animal right violations. As an autoethnographer, I am using this opportunity to discover more about myself through learning about another cultures interaction with a global issue.

 

This topic is unknown territory for me, as I have never found myself questioning or even thinking about the cosmetic animal testing that occurs within China. Let alone the worldwide issue that comes to hand with this topic.

 

It lead me to some very basic Google searches, such as “Animal testing China”, and “China Cosmetic Industry”. Surely enough, this helped me gain a basic understanding of the nature and laws surrounding the cosmetic animal testing regulations.

 

I discovered that, up until 2014, all cosmetic products created and imported into China had to be animal tested by law. But in 2014 the China Food and Drug Administration stopped requiring tests for ordinary cosmetics (make-up, skin, hair and nail care products and fragrances) produced in the country, and allowed these manufacturers to choose alternatives to animal testing. Products manufactured overseas and sold in China, as well as special cosmetics, like sunscreen, all still require mandatory animal testing to be released onto the Chinese market (Care2, 2014).

For the Chinese consumers who are conscious of the impact their choice of product has and are interested in purchasing cruelty free products, it was not possible up until this point. It was the first step for animal activists in opening the cruelty free cosmetics market in China. Up to this point, consumers were being misled into thinking that they were purchasing cruelty-free products.

In terms of the Marketing process of these products in China, I discovered a marketing agency called the Gentlemen Marketing Agency, based in Shanghai and specialises in creating “solutions to develop your Brand in China, cosmetics, Beauty, Health care and pharmaceutical companies”. The agency focuses on creating a firm relationship between foreign companies and Chinese consumers. I was particularly interested in this agency, because of its blogs discussing animal testing on cosmetic products in China. They are against the use of animal testing in the cosmetic industry, and explain their support for the announcement that China will no-longer require international cosmetic products to be animal tested. The blog also calls out companies such as Avon and Mary Kay re-starting their animal testing in order to “grab a larger market share” (Olivier, 2017).

 

The changing of regulations, that has been ignored by companies, highlights how important it is for consumers to shop wisely and inform themselves. This is to ensure that they do not support companies that have the opportunity to use non-animal testing but choose not to. This does not just regard the Chinese market and Chinese consumers, but all international markets and their consumers. There is also a need for more Marketing and PR agencies to stand up against large cosmetic companies, by creating campaigns to deter consumers from supporting animal tested product.

 

This research has taught me that we all have a part to play in supporting cruelty free products, so that we create a market share large enough that forces companies to use non-animal testing.

 

References: 

Gentleman Marketing Agency 2016, ‘I am not A Goods’, image, Cosmetics China Agency, viewed 8th September 2017, here

Gentleman Marketing Agency 2017, Welcoming Gesture of China for non-animal tested imported cosmetic products, Cosmetics China Agency, viewed 8th September 2017, < http://cosmeticschinaagency.com/welcoming-gesture-china-non-animal-tested-imported-cosmetic-products/&gt;

Graef, A 2014, It’s Official! China Ends Mandatory Animal Testing for Cosmetics, Care 2, viewed 8th September 2017, < http://www.care2.com/causes/its-official-china-ends-mandatory-animal-testing-for-cosmetics.html>

PETA 2017, PETA Funds Non-Animal Methods, PETA, viewed 8th September 2017, < https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/us-government-animal-testing-programs/peta-funds-non-animal-methods/>

Understanding my world through Autoethnography

The idea of Autoethnography is so foreign to me. So far in my academic career I’ve transformed from the high school system “1st person is evil”, to welcoming how your cultural perceptions has shaped how you understand a situation. Ellis et al. defines Autoethnography as:

“An approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)”

Therefore, this incorporates how a person understands a situation or event due to how their personal experiences have shaped their way of thinking. To be an autoethnographer, you must first explain your cultural upbringing to your readers/audience and then critically analyse how this has formed your understanding.

If you read my last blog, I attempted a little autoethnography, by critically analysing how I took meaning from watching Godzilla based on my cultural upbringing. It was a different approach to writing that I haven’t noticed myself using up to this point in my academic career. Yet, it makes sense to use this form of research and writing, because it can be used as a tool for further understanding of yourself and those around you.

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Photo I took of the beach (Otres Beach, Cambodia)

I noticed myself doing this in my recent travels to Cambodia. I was sitting on a beach, and women were walking up and down the beach selling foot rubs, manicures and pedicures to tourists. I was approached by one woman who was driven to make me buy something from her. I noticed the difference between the selling techniques used by advertising company’s in Australia and her persuasion techniques. She rubbed her hand on my legs and said “Oh! So hairy! You need threading”. I realised this must be how they try to persuade tourists to pay for them for a beauty service. Thinking back to how someone would sell me something in Australia compared to how things are sold in Cambodia is very different. This event made me interested in how the media sold products to Cambodians, and noticed a lot of downgrading their own beauty in order to sell their products. Most of the models on the packaging were white, or looked very similar to white people. This sets the standard of “beauty” in Cambodia and tells people that they aren’t beautiful unless they look white.

I think to how the media sells me products, and I notice a lot of the similar sort of advertising techniques. Therefore, I am interested in researching further into how the Asian advertising market sells its products as part of an autoethnographic project.

 

 

References:

Ellis, C, Adams, T.E & Bochner, A.P. 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 12, No. 1, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095&gt;

60 years on and Godzilla is still strong

I’m a 90s baby, I grew up watching Hi-5, The Wiggles (originals) and then grew into more sophisticated films like Mean Girls that truly understood the struggles of growing up in a white privileged society. I’ve grown up in a mostly peaceful time, and the only worries I’ve faced have been “end of the world” scares that never eventuated. As a result, the films I watched growing up were mostly light-hearted fun, adventure filled stories that never showed hard-ships.

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Godzilla (1954), image, movieboozer.com

I would have never watched Godzilla growing up, and even if I did I would have missed the underlying metaphor behind the film. This is because I’ve never lived in a time where the horror of nuclear war or death of loved ones has ever been a treat to my perfect bubble wrapped life.

 

As I watched Godzilla, I found it difficult to relate to the characters because I had never experienced anything that made me think about how my life could be affected by this. Also, my experience of films up to this point were American made or American sympathised, therefore the common enemy of those films were Russia, Japan, or Germany that had made up the Axis Powers in World War II. These stereotypes had carried across to my understanding of the world around me, and it was only until I was old enough to experience the world for myself that I found this to be this incorrect.

 

Therefore, expanding my understanding of International Film is a valuable source to understand how other countries document and make sense of hard-ships they have faced. The Japanese film industry using a nuclear, fire-breathing monster as a metaphor of the destruction the US inflicted upon Japan during the war makes this film more relatable for many different audiences, rather than if it was a more direct portrayal of the event. It ended up becoming a hugely successful formula and as a result, ironically America has released their own Godzilla films.

 

If you’re interested in a little background reading:

Here’s an article of photos of Hiroshima and Nagasaki then and now from the Guardian 

And a review of Godzilla