Sunday, November 16, 2008
A Second Skin You Don't Need
Ah, winter. Holidays, hot chocolate, snuggling by the fire--and fur.
This last is possibly my least favorite part of winter. I am anti-fur, and this can be a problem for someone who a) works in an office located in Manhattan's fur district, and b) rides a train to work that originates in Brighton Beach, a predominately Russian neighborhood where fur is part of the culture. I get great pleasure in both cases walking around with my "no fur" button. The best is when I sit myself down next to a lady covered head to toe in fur with my button front and center. It's worth it to watch her squirm, and to see the looks on the other passenger's faces.
But, being anti-fur can be difficult for a pin-up. Fur is incredibly soft and silky, and associated with sex and luxury, but it is also totally inhumane. My friend at work loves her furs, and the first time she saw me with my no-fur button last winter she asked why I was against fur.
"The animals are dead already," she said.
"Yes," I answered, "because they've been slaughtered, in some cases skinned alive, just to make a coat."
"Really?" she said, her eyes wide as saucers. "I thought they used animals that were already dead."
I further explained to her that no, her coat was not made from roadkill picked up off the highway, and also that there is no reason for wearing fur, as there are plenty of synthetic fabrics available that very closely mimic the look and feel of fur without any of the cruelty. Animals on fur farms are killed using some of the same brutal methods that Michael Vick employed to kill dogs at his Bad Newz Kennelz, including electrocution, drowning and strangulation. No living creature deserves to be treated this way for the sake of a fancy coat. Fundamentally, it's just disrespect for life.
The good news is that the no-fur movement continues to gain ground. Last month, luxury retailer Henri Bendel announced it would no longer sell fur products in its stores, joining fur-free companies like Polo Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, Ann Taylor and others. The celebrity movement against fur is also huge and includes names like Sarah Jessica Parker, Pamela Anderson, Eva Mendes, Christy Turlington and Gisele Bundchen. Each of these women are examples that being a pin-up does not have to include cruelty. (One name I wish I could add to this list is Dita von Teese, who continues to wear furs. I wish she would stop.) If you've got to have the look, go faux. I myself do not, because I believe that faux fur continues to propagate the image of fur as sexy, but I still support faux, as it is still far preferable to the alternative.
There are other materials that are also cited for their cruelty to animals, like leather and some wools. I confess here that I do own and wear both leather and wool garments, but it is a practice I am working to stop for myself. I love feathers, although I don't own any, but was recently pleasantly surprised when I contacted a feather retailer who told me that (at least in the case of peacocks), the feathers are harvested after molting and not forcibly ripped from the bird. I pick on fur because I find it unexcusable. Synthetic leather has never held up for me like real leather, and I am only now finding out about cruel wool practices, but we live, we learn, and we each have the power to change. Be responsible, and check up on the stores where you frequently shop. When shopping for makeup, find out if testing is conducted on animals. Time consuming? Yes. Worth it? Definitely.
Here are some other resources to help quell a habit of animal cruelty products: