Thursday, January 5, 2012

I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Faux Fur

I was faced with a dilemma this past Christmas. A relative gifted me a beautiful pair of warm, weatherproof gloves with cuffs lined with faux fur mimicking that of a rabbit or chinchilla. I desperately need a new pair of gloves since my current pair is frayed at the edges and doesn't keep my hands very warm. The new pair has many labels guaranteeing that it is faux fur; however, as much as I would like to keep the new pair, I cannot consciously do so and here's why. While I know that the fur is fake, nobody else will. I could, of course, announce their imitation to every passerby on the street who happens to notice them, but this is not a very realistic (or sane) option. The bottom line is that if I wear these new gloves, my statement to the world will be that fur—fake or real—is fashionable.

Being vegan means having accountability and discipline in taking care to avoid all forms of animal exploitation. I try to do this every day through the choices I make from the food I eat, to the clothes I wear, to the toothpaste I use. As a passionate proponent of animal rights and a minority, I'm quite cognizant that everything I do must reflect my vegan values. Furthermore, I have to remain vigilant of how my actions affect animals and influence how others see and treat them.

Many companies that have their clothing made in China have sold products that were labeled as having faux fur but which still contained real fur. Sadly, China treats its dogs and cats similarly to how we Americans treat cows, pigs, and chickens. Investigations by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have found that dog and cat fur is still finding its way into the country on unlabeled and falsely advertised clothing. You may think you're buying faux fur, but you could be buying the real thing. And why, may I ask, is it so unacceptable for some to wear dog and cat fur, yet it is tolerable to wear the fur of other animals like rabbits, beavers, foxes, and minks? Don't all animals feel pain?

Real or not, fur is considered a desirable luxury and makes itself unmistakably apparent when worn out in public. Consequently, some companies have sought to fill a niche market for those who like the look and feel of fur, but who don't want animals to suffer for their shallow conspicuous consumption. Animals captured or bred for fur are often maimed in traps and face brutal deaths at the hands of humans; some are suffocated and drowned to death, some have their chests crushed, and others have electric prods forced up their anuses to electrocute them to death. Companies like Imposter insist that they are saving animals by "harnessing the power of enterprise" by copying the look and feel of real animals. I say that by promoting these faux fur products (and may I add, expensive ones at that), they are continuing to send the message that it is fashionable and opulent to wear fur, leaving the door ajar for those who still covet the "real thing."

As animal activists or simply as people of compassion, we should just avoid wearing any resemblance of an animal's fur and make a statement that the look of fur can never be appealing or fashion forward. One year, models in magazine ads are denouncing fur, claiming they'd rather go naked than wear fur, and the next year they're wearing it again. Can one's conscience be that malleable? Celebrities for PETA advertise themselves in near-naked poses to protest wearing fur but that doesn't stop them from consuming the bodies of dead animals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The zeitgeist persists in telling us that it is acceptable to continue exploiting animals with little to no moral resistance.

There is never a reason for animal exploitation of any kind. I say ditch fur altogether, including faux fur, and proclaim that animal fur is not and will never be stylish on human animals. And while you're at, stop eating animals, too, if you haven't already done so. The only imposter here is us when we claim to love animals but continue participating in their suffering and death by consuming them and their bodily fluids and unfertilized ovum. While advocating for animals on a single issue like fur is a step in the right direction, we cannot claim to be lovers of animals and proponents of justice until we stand up for ALL animals.

Click here for more information on the fur industry and to find fur-free retailers.

Photo courtesy of PETA.

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