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As I scroll through social media, I halt my browsing to watch yet another woman gush at her newest Birkin bag, displayed on her sleek marble table in all its vibrant, scaly glory.


Despite having initially come up as a major issue a few years ago, the glaring issue of Hèrmes’ methods of acquiring the material that makes up their globally renowned Birkin bags is still very much relevant today. 


Made from crocodile skin, the means of acquisition of the exotic material is a hard cry from ethical. According to an investigation done by non-profit animal rights organization PETA, crocodiles are first electrocuted so that they can be easily moved, then having their spinal cords severed, the cruelty has no end. In the case that electrocution fails, a rod is inserted into the brain of the crocodile. All of this is done while the crocodile is still alive, and despite the belief that they are unable to feel pain, they are sentient beings as much as any other animal.


On top of this, the crocodiles are kept in filthy tanks and pens, causing them to become threats to the crocodiles they are kept with and even to humans. Keeping crocodiles in these conditions especially when they are from the wild and crammed with hundreds of other crocodiles can give way to a myriad of diseases that are harmful to humans, as written in another article by PETA. These include but are not limited to COVID-19, salmonella, E coli, and West Nile virus. 


So not only does this captivity and slaughter pose a threat to the crocodiles, but also to humans, which is why an end must be put to these conditions.


But then a question might arise. How can you be of help to the crocodiles and to this endeavor? There is a widely held belief that promoting a cause requires you to exert all your effort into actions like protests and other similarly large-scale events. However, initiating change means being the change first. Educating yourself is the most powerful defense and tool that you have.


Having the knowledge that the cruelty behind Birkin bags occurs in the first place is the first step to getting to a place where you feel comfortable being able to speak out against said cruelty. Whether or not you wish to put this knowledge into practice is up to you, but even if your actions are small and seemingly insignificant on a large scale, it might just come as a surprise to you when you end up being the ripple in an ocean.

On Flawed Luxury: Birkin Bags
By Kirsten Batitay

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