Trend Report: Animals As Accessories, Why This 2000's Trend Doesn't Need A Comeback

BY OLIVIA MARRONE

Tana Mongeau’s recent appearance on MTV’s VMAs red carpet brought with it not only nostalgia, but also awareness.

PHOTO: Andrew H. Walker / Shutterstock

PHOTO: Andrew H. Walker / Shutterstock

Animals being exploited for use in the fashion industry as accessories or to create garments is not a new styling or design tactic. While the design aspect has positively evolved over the years, with brands like Stella McCartney using more ethical materials such as vegetarian leather, unfortunately using animals as accessories to make a fashion statement is still being done. From snakes featured in performances to small dogs in purses, animals being used as fashion accessories is a trend that has extended far too long. Although there are a lot of fashion trends currently reappearing from the late 90’s and early 2000’s, this is one that we don’t need to happen again.

The trend of animals being used as accessories in pop culture seems to have started with Britney Spears’ infamous performance of “I’m a Slave 4 U” at the 2001 MTV VMAs. At the start of the song, Spears enters the stage in a cage with a tiger, and later sings across the stage while carrying a python. A few years later, pop culture’s reality TV princess Paris Hilton started another trend: constantly carrying her small dog, a chihuahua named Tinkerbell. Hilton, according to a 2018 article from Life & Style Magazine, was supposedly inspired to get her dog after watching Legally Blonde, starring Elle Woods and her trusty sidekick, a chihuahua named Bruiser. The dynamic duo of Hilton and Tinkerbell redefined not only what it means to be a pet owner, but also just how much you can fit into your purse. Thanks to Hilton, miniature-sized dogs became accessories and even women who did not initially own dogs began to go out and purchase small dogs for the sake of fashion. Although this may have seemed like a trend that was here to stay, as with all trends this one eventually ran its course. But what happened afterwards?

PHOTO: Kevin Kane / Getty Images

PHOTO: Kevin Kane / Getty Images

The fashion industry has a tendency to easily dispose of excess garments, and unfortunately similar practices were done with animals after the styling/accessory trend eventually ended. Although the infamous snake from Britney’s VMAs performance, named Banana, is still alive today — according to a March 2019 article from The Cut) — in the article Ziwe Fumudoh reports that Banana acquired third-degree burns and has had many different owners over the years since gracing the VMAs stage with Spears in 2001. In a 2011 article from Daily Mail, David Richards talks with individuals such as Lara Alford, The Blue Cross Centre in Southampton, Hants’ manager, about how large numbers of small dogs were being left at animal shelters, which was largely because the owners were having trouble handling their dog’s behavior problems, after the Paris Hilton-led trend (as Alford puts it, the “handbag-style” dog) ended. Richards further discusses the psychological effects that carrying your dog in a purse can have on the pet, which led many of the dogs at the shelter refusing to walk anymore, and needing to constantly be the center of attention, especially around other dogs.

PHOTO: Paris Hilton

PHOTO: Paris Hilton

Animals are meant to live freely in the wild and be our companions at home — not our “plus one” to award shows, shopping trips, and Sunday brunches. This fashion trend is not only unhealthy and harmful to the animals, but also needs to be stopped before it starts again. Although many trends from the late 90’s and early 2000’s have been reappearing in street style recently, let Tana Mongeau’s red carpet python moment act as a reminder of why this trend should not make a comeback — for the sake of fashion, and more importantly, the animals serving as accessories.

Lead Image Credit: Kevin Kane / Getty Images