I’ve been thinking about fur lately. It’s one of those trains of thought that simply will not go away, as if my mind were saying: "Write this down! Sort this out! Get to the bottom of this!" over and over and over. Especially after my mom showed up at my door with a rabbit fur vest for me.
Rabbit. My mother informed me yesterday that "We don’t eat rabbit," because we used to have a live one. But that didn’t stop her from buying rabbit fur the week before. And when she gave it to me, we had the following conversation:
"What’s this, Mom?"
"It’s rabbit!!! :-)" (Yes, you could hear the smiley at the end of her spoken sentence.)
"But Mom, it’s rabbit."
"Well, just tell people it’s mink."
Now, with a few notable exceptions, I usually think my mom has good taste and style. Plus, the vest fits, it’s warm, and I recently added "It’s cold outside," to my list of all-purpose excuses. (The list also includes "At least I don’t smoke." and "I was living in Lier when I did that.") But since I’m a nerd who sees over-analyzing as a hobby, my brain won’t stop internally debating how to feel about this recent addition to my closet. So far, I have come to the following conclusions:
1. Wearing fur sends a message. It says: "I’m ok with the fact that what I am wearing used to be alive." But so does wearing leather and silk.
2. In many cases, fur also sends the message: "I spent A LOT of money on something that makes me look box-shaped." (This vest doesn’t; the opossum coat my mom tried to make me borrow, does.)
3. Fur is expensive. So is foie gras, another luxury item associated with animal cruelty. "Sacrificing" the things you can’t actually afford, is not sacrificing. I’m not going to earn any karma points by pretending that I don’t have a car because of the environment. I don’t have a car, because I don’t need one and I can’t afford one. I rarely eat fois gras, because I can only rarely afford it. I had never seriously considered buying a fur coat in the same way I’ve never seriously considered buying a pair of Prada pumps or a Burberry trench coat: I don’t have that kind of money.
4. I’ve heard people argue that wearing fur, even vintage fur from the 30s, is an indirect support of today’s fur industry, because it keeps the look of fur in fashion. These same people suggested wearing realistic-looking faux fur. How does that not keep the fur look in fashion? People who claim to have made up their minds are clearly just as confused as me. "Don’t get me started on fur. It makes me so angry," one friend warned when I mentioned my difficult gift. I glanced at her new suede coat and changed the subject.
5. Faux fur is not as warm. And it either looks nothing like fur or exactly like fur, and I think either one is screapy*. It is simply not an alternative in my opinion.
6. I’ve worn fur before (right), so I fail already.
7. Ideally, I would know the costs I inflict on the world whenever I choose to consume anything. How happy was the hen who laid these eggs? Exactly how did this turkey die? What are the working conditions of the people who made this cheap t-shirt? Was this imported fruit transported in the best way possible for the environment? Given that I don’t know these answers, I am probably making the wrong decisions all the time, leading to uneccessary suffering. Who says that dying to become a fur vest is worse than dying to become Christmas dinner?
After reviewing this evidence, it seemed I had two choices, if I wanted my own actions to make sense. I could wear the fur. Or I could give up a whole bunch of my favorite things: all my boots, my preferred breakfast, my kimono, the only pyjamas I really like, traditional Thanksgiving – did I mention bacon?
So I wore it just long enough to realize a drawback I had forgotten: Rabbits shed their hair. So did my new vest. I will be returning it.
* Screapy: From scary and creepy. Something so stupid and off-putting that it kind of scares you. It’s in Urban Dictionary now, but I made it up before I started this blog. I should mention that I was living in Lier at the time.
This is Part 1, in which an ethical dilemma turns up literally on my doorstep, in the form of a white rabbit fur vest. Continue to:
- Part 2, in which I make a more serious attempt to discuss fashion as if it were a topic in ethics class.
- Part 3, in which I give the fur industry some marketing advice.