Monday, August 12, 2013

Fur Real.

Taylor Kraemer in Elle Mexico 2010. Photograph by Alexander Neumann

A few weeks ago, I have to admit I was a little caught off guard to find fur along the pages of nearly every fashion magazine I subscribe to. I'm not exactly sure why this time it seemed to shock me more than any other time I'd seen it appear in editorials--all I know is that this time it stung. and stung hard.

Fortunately, I was brought some relief a few days ago upon learning that one of my favorite fashion bloggers, Garance Dore, thought the issue of fur was worth addressing as well, having made it the subject of a recent blog post entitled, "A Fur Question." In her article, Dore offers an honest consideration of the issues surrounding fur based on her own personal experience and childhood growing up in a Corsican village which raised farm animals. What I like most about her article is how candid she is with her readers. While in the end she concludes that she is not against fur, I admire that she had the guts to even ask herself such questions and encourage her readers to do the same for themselves.

One thing that stuck out most was when Dore wrote that she struggles to understand why people's radical ways of thinking don't get pushed to their logical conclusions. This is why she admires designers like Stella McCartney (as a lifelong vegetarian, she refuses to use leather and fur in her designs), who not only have great ideas but also push them through. Dore has a good point here. Maybe if we were all more this way, we would have a drastically different and perhaps more humane world before us. So why can't we follow through with our ideas? Why is it so hard for us to do the right thing when we know in our hearts, what is right? Why is it so hard for me to give up eating fish when I've already sworn off eating all land animals? Is it just me, or are we all inherently hypocrites?

Stella McCartney doesn't use leather or fur, but she does use wool and silk. From what I understand, many vegans refuse to wear wool because of the inhumane mulesing practices incurred upon sheep, and silk, because silkworms are killed during the process of silk production to prevent holes in the silk. So is Stella McCartney pushing her ideas through as much as we thought? I would still say yes. According to a Q&A on her website, McCartney states that she struggles with the issues related to using silk and wool, and does what she can to source the most humane silks and wool available. She requires that her sheep be given anesthesia and proper wound care while undergoing mulesing, and continues to search for a reliable source of "peace silk," one in which the silkworm is not harmed.

So, why can't the rest of us seem to follow through? Is it fear of change, of going against what society has deemed socially acceptable, or simply fear of being held accountable? Perhaps, it's just that society by nature has a difficult time supporting radical ways of thinking until these ideas have become normalized and adopted into our culture. Think of how hard it is to find cute vegan sandals, for instance and just how tempted one might be after countless hours of searching for the right vegan sandal, to quickly and impulsively purchase the gorgeous pair of tan leather sandals that are virtually jumping off the shelf to come home with you. I guess, depending on how dedicated you are to your beliefs, sometimes the costs of "following through" outweigh the benefits.

While there is definitely something to be said for pushing your ideas through--of standing behind your beliefs and letting yourself be fully accountable for your word, there is also something to be said for doing what you can at a certain time. We have to start somewhere to eventually get where we want to be. There is nothing wrong with taking baby steps and contributing all that you can at a certain time and place--in my mind, not eating land animals is a good contribution and first step towards the ultimate goal of eliminating all meat and animal products from my life. While switching from leather to vegan leather is controversial for some (since wearing vegan leather still promotes the look and feel of wearing leather by pretending to be leather), for me, it serves as an easier and more convenient transition to an animal-free wardrobe that doesn't skimp on style.

In the same vain, I suppose that replacing one's fur with faux fur would also be acceptable due to the same reasoning. Although I'm not much of a fur lover myself, it is the baby steps that eventually bring us to where we want to be.

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