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Topless in Trafalgar Square
By Linda Serck
A Sandhurst woman will be posing topless in a mermaid costume on Antony Gormley's plinth in Trafalgar Square. We chat to Natalie Simpson about why she's wearing such a show-stopping outfit.
On Tuesday 28 July 2009, a young lady from Sandhurst will pose on top of a fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, dressed in a shiny mermaid costume, sitting on a net surrounded by toy sea creatures while blowing bubbles.
Natalie Simpson, 34, is one of the lucky people chosen out of 23,000 applicants to be part the One & Other project, in which artist Antony Gormley gives members of the public an opportunity to stand on a plinth in Trafalgar Square for one hour wearing and doing whatever they like.
Natalie is wearing the topless costume in aid of the charity People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA), hoping to encourage people to switch to a vegetarian diet.
The former Sandhurst School pupil be standing on the plinth from 4am to 5am holding up a sign reading: 'Try to relate to who is on your plate – Go vegetarian'.
A blonde wig spares Natalie's blushes
"It was PeTA who came up with the idea," says Natalie of her outfit, "I've been a supporter of them for quite a while and a vegetarian for years. I care about animal rights a lot.
"When I found out I'd won my slot I contacted PeTA to see if I could do something on their behalf so they came up with the mermaid idea.
"It took a little bit of persuasion, but then I thought if it's going to get the headlines then that's what we want to promote the cause."
Luckily for Natalie a long blonde wig will cover her upper half, and the sign should also save her blushes.
"I'm going to have my modesty protected, my dad is going to be watching!" says Natalie.
"I'll technically be topless though, so I very much hope it's not going to be too windy and that everything stays in place!"
The ornate costume was provided by PeTA, ("I suspect I'm not their first mermaid!"), and Natalie, who's led a vegetarian lifestyle for 17 years, hopes it'll be show-stopping enough to highlight PeTA's cause.
The charity's view is that fish are intelligent, sensitive animals who experience fear and distress when they are hooked or netted and pulled from the water.
According to PeTA, scientific studies confirm that fish are sensitive individuals who feel pain, just as dogs and cats do.
"It's raising awareness so that people stop and think about what they're eating," says Natalie.
"The best and easiest thing any of us can do to help animals and the planet is go to vegetarian so hopefully that'll sink in in some level with people."
And Natalie is also unfazed if the weather turns nasty while she's on the plinth.
"I'm prepared to suffer for the hour to highlight the suffering that animals go through all the time."
last updated: 10/07/2009 at 10:39