Wearing a bodysuit that resembles a snakeskin and lying on a tree trunk in a jungle setting, supermodel and Bollywood siren Dipannita Sharma appears in a brand-new ad for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India just in time for the release of her new horror film, Pizza 3D. The ad’s caption reads, “Exotic Animals Belong in the Wild, Not in Your Wardrobe”. Sharma’s point? That snakes, crocodiles and other reptiles endure horrors, such as being skinned alive, for fashion. The stunning ad was shot by ace photographer Colston Julian, and the bodysuit is by Chandni Bahri with Nikhil Thampi. Valliyan, by Nitya, provided the accessories, and Sharma’s hair and make-up were done by Rohini Foregard.
“I have never, ever used exotic skin in my life. … I have never understood the … style quotient of carrying a clutch for which an animal has had to go through so much torture”, Sharma says. “I don’t think it takes away from my fashion quotient or style quotient because I am carrying faux leather and something for which an animal has not gone through torture.”
Snakes, alligators and other exotic animals suffer greatly before their skins are turned into shoes, bags and other products. Snakes are often nailed to trees or posts and skinned alive. After their peeled and mutilated bodies are discarded, it can take hours for them to die – usually from shock or dehydration. Alligators are often crammed into small spaces on factory farms and then beaten to death with hammers or axes. An undercover video narrated by Joaquin Phoenix shows how snakes are skinned alive and how lizards are snared in the wild before they, too, are skinned.
Sharma has walked the runway for nearly every major fashion designer in India. Jodi Breakers (2012) and Ladies vs Ricky Bahl (2011), which received critical acclaim, are among her other Bollywood films.
She joins fellow actors Dia Mirza and Raveena Tandon-Thadani, who also posed for PETA India ads against the cruel exotic-skins trade.