It seems like every other day, a magazine is in the news and for all the wrong reasons. For those of you who might not know, Cosmo India put up a picture on Instagram of their cover girl, Kriti Sanon’s fashion spread from this month’s issue. The picture was taken on location, with a taxidermied giraffe hanging from a ceiling and it received major backlash from the internet. While pointing out problems and voicing opinions and distaste is the part the internet is good at, it is only one part of it. Trolling is easy, but what about being educational and solution-oriented instead? Calling someone/something out is one thing, but then following it up with actual workable solutions is what is even more necessary. Proving exactly that, Cara Tejpal, a wildlife conservationist had the perfect response to the Cosmopolitan spread.

The Facts

1. Giraffes are on the ‘vulnerable’ list, i.e. one-step away from ‘endangered’

2. The species has suffered a decline of 40% over the last few years, which by any measurable standard is alarming.

3. The location of the shoot, Aynhoe Park, was originally bought by John Cartwright in 1615, and is filled with a lot of taxidermied animals, some hundreds of years old. This particular giraffe is one of many animals that are preserved through taxidermy and displayed around the house along with all sorts of art and sculpture. It now belongs to James Perkins, an art collector and is loaned out for shoots.

4. A number of shoots have taken place here. One such notable one is Sonam Kapoor‘s for Brides Today, in which she wore a red Ralph & Russo number and posed with the same giraffe.

5. One of the problems pointed out in all the backlash was the irony in the fact that the caption (which has since been edited to include an explanation) spoke of women’s empowerment, while completely ignoring animal rights and wildlife conservation efforts.

Her Suggestion

Cara Tejpal
Cara Tejpal

Her take was simply that if Cosmopolitan India wanted to feature wildlife in any way, they could do it in a different way. The reason for so much backlash is simply because more people are now aware that many species across the world are facing extinction and a platform such as this could be used to empower and educate people. A good way to do that would be by featuring the work of many brilliant women in the field of wildlife conservation, who work tirelessly in the background without much appreciation. Here are some of the women she mentioned:

















We also reached out to Cara to get her opinion on the entire matter. Here’s what she had to say,

I think the Cosmo cover was distasteful given global concerns about wildlife conservation. Using wild animals as props for a fashion spread is ignorant. But it also presented an opportunity to share information about incredible women conservationists in India whose work is almost entirely ignored by the mainstream. I hope more publications consider featuring these women and their impact.

To learn more about animals’ statuses, check out the IUCN Red List website.

Cosmo India for its part edited the caption of the image on their Instagram account to read as below:

“I’m not someone who gets angry easily, but when I read about atrocities against women, it really upsets me.” Meet our cover girl @kritisanon being her candid self in our August issue.✨
PS: Aynhoe Park features taxidermy, hundreds of years old, most from museums. Taxidermy is the art of preserving an animal that died of natural causes, for academic purposes. The giraffe featured here is floating (not hanging, heavens no!) with balloons on its back. An art installation, in what is possibly one of the eclectic yet most majestic mansions in the world.
PPS: Cosmo loves, no, is obsessed with animals. We were, possibly, the first magazine in India to ban the featuring of fur, three years ago. No animals were harmed before, during, or after this shoot. We may be guilty of watching too many puppy videos during work hours, though.
Photograph: @andrewwoffinden; styling: @zunailimalik; hair: @aasifahmedofficial; makeup: @adrianjacobsofficial using @facescanada; location courtesy: @aynhoepark; production: @viennafilms
Kriti is wearing – high neck top, @hm; pants, @431_88; stilettos, Red Label Collection, @bata.india; necklace: @swarovski #KritiSanon #OnlyInCosmo #CosmoIndia

We sourced the uncropped image for your perusal that shows that the animal was not hanging but floating (as mentioned in their caption), and has been housed in this mansion as an art installation. (also clarified in Cosmo’s caption) See below.

Kriti Sanon | Image Source: Cosmopolitan India, Andrew Waffindon
Kriti Sanon | Image Source: Cosmopolitan India, Andrew Waffindon

I would love to hear your thoughts about this controversy? Please tell me what you think about this whole situation in the comments below.