by Christopher Arnett
Native Foods Cafe
On Wednesday, Yahoo! Travel posted an article that I just have to comment on. Entitled Live Jewelry or Bling Slavery, the article tells of recent fashion craze involving the wearing of adorned, living beetles! It seems the practice, originating in ancient Mayan culture, has found a new vogue among contemporary Mexican women. And the fashion fever has been spreading across the border, as more U.S. tourists attempt to bring home the beleaguered and bedazzled bugs. Although, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is having none of it, as they attempt to enforce their laws against importing plants and animals from other countries.
Is this ok?
The insect at the center of the controversy is the maquech beetle. Travel writer Randall Peffer wrote of the subject in 1990: “The Indians catch them and decorate them in the belief that such a bejeweled insect over the heart will be a totem for the soul of a lost loved one.” An endearing sentiment full of tenderness, yes? But not enough tenderness, it seems, to warrant any concern for the wellbeing of the maquech. In fact, PETA has commented on the phenomena. PETA’s spokesperson Jaime Zalac stated “Beetles may not be as cute and cuddly as puppies and kittens, but they have the same capacity to feel pain and suffer.”
Would you wear it?
To be sure, the process of becoming living bling doesn’t sound too pleasant. Artists glue small, colorful gems onto the backs of the beetles. Bits of gold trim chain attached to a clip are added, so that the beetle can’t get away when pinned to a person’s clothing. In reference to an incident in 2010 where a woman was caught at the Texas border wearing a live maquech, Zalac said “This woman’s choice of fashion accessory gives new meaning to the term fashion victim.” Indeed, the phenomenon of wearing the living beetles does raise certain issues. Even if they beetles are unharmed by the bejeweling process, what of the fact that it needs to eat? Do the owners feed it, or do they allow it to starve? I think we can all agree that fashionably famished does not sound like a good time for any creature, big or small. And what about when the beetle finally dies? Is the beautified carcass continued to be worn, of is it discarded for the next expendable exoskeleton? Isn’t it a little disturbing that life could be perceived as a fashion accessory, even if it is only the tiny life of a beetle? If anyone has more info on this matter, please let us know!
Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan restaurant, beetle jewelry, maquech beetle