Monday, 12 July 2010

Human Leather

I came across a website selling products made from human skin thanks to the wonders of Facebook. Initially you think it has to be a joke, right? People aren't walking around wearing dead people, are they? But there are an elite few "who have everything they could possibly desire" and this company has snapped up their need to stand out and show off their wealth. They've given them something to spend their money on that very few people will have. Products sourced from the skin other people.

You can get your hands on a Human Leather Wallet from €9,000 (USD$14,000 approx) or if you're really splashing out, why not grab a pair of shoes from €18,000 (USD$27,000 approx)? Roll up, roll up, fresh out the morgue...

Obviously my initial response to this is "gross! What's wrong with people?" How is it someone has so much money that they don't know what to do with that they're willing to walk around in some dead guys back? 

Then I began to wonder how they got hold of the dead people to use their skin in the first place, so I had a nose around the website. Apparently people "bequeathed their skin" to the company before they died. The families of the "donors" are apparently rewarded very handsomely, which I imagine means a big pay off. Surely something like this opens doors to killing off sick or unwanted family members for the "reward". It's like the whole organ donor argument as to whether they should be sold rather than donated. If people need money, what's stopping them from killing off people to sell their skin or heart or lungs?

But then there's the other side... poor people can make money out of their dead relatives. If they're dying anyway, it's not hurting anyone to take money from the very strange rich people wanting to turn them into belts and shoes... though it is somewhat disrespectful. Just like, if someone has good organs and their family has no money, you may as well sell them to save a few peoples lives as well as your families when you die. Surely we'd get a whole lot more organ donations if they were getting something out of it. People find the idea of their body being chopped up and spread between the bodies of other people creepy, but if they could help their families out they'd probably be more willing to save a few lives. Most of the time nobody cares about helping anyone if they can't get anything out of it. 

For the record, I'm pretty sure I'm an organ donor and I'm not expecting monies out of it. 

Of course, lives are saved through organ donation whereas all that's happening with skin donations is rich people get to feel like they're some sort of elite. Next step is stuffed human heads above the mantle piece in between the deer heads... 

But why is wearing a person so different from wearing any other animal? What is it about human leather that makes us go "ew"? I imagine it's the same sort of notion as cannibalism. It's turning on one's own kind. It's this bright light illuminating the fact that nobody is safe. When someone is sat at a table eating a chicken, nobody thinks anything of it, because it's a chicken. But if they were eating your uncle that would be a different story. We have connections to other people. I imagine if someone was eating you dog you'd be pretty upset too. It's the emotional connections we have with things that stops us from thinking it's ok. From being able to stand objectively and say, it's just food and I need to eat. Or it's just shoes and I wanna protect my feet. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Both on human product as well as organ donation. 

1 comment:

  1. I find this so hard to believe. Of course, I looked on the web and found an advert for this product but I'm tempted to believe this is a spoof. What kind of deranged person would find any pleasure in products crafted from another human being?

    I feel there is something special that links all people; we have a common heritage and share our human condition. We all experience the joys and tribulations of life, love, pain, uncertainty, and pleasure. These experiences are our common bond and should lead us to a sense of respect for each other.

    As for receiving money for parts of our relatives or ourselves, where would this end? When granny is being particularly truculent and annoying, would there not be a temptation to have her carted off to the cat food factory. In India, there have already been cases of desperately poor people selling a kidney. I have donated blood for many years and feel glad that it has gone to help somebody but I doubt whether I would have considered doing this for payment.

    Finally, I thought about the “super rich” seeking out exclusive objects. I think, that it’s not our possessions, but what we do with them that counts, and the one thing that we truly own is our own bodies.
    So there you go, for what it’s worth, that’s my take on the subject.

    Life is good
    Regards, Peter