Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Ethics of Wearing Fur




In high school I had a fluffy pair of leg warmers that were faux fur and just about every time I wore them I was called a murderer by classmates, despite the fact that it was pretty obvious they weren't real. People like to see animal rights and the idea of wearing fur in particular to be a black and white subject, when in reality fur production is a massive gray area. Throughout my years online, people have asked my opinion on wearing fur and bones with open ears, and others have pointed fingers at me saying I'm not a good vegetarian or animal rights activist because I like and wear these things, I personally only wear cruelty free or second hand vintage furs. I decided to write a comprehensive guide, answering common questions and comments I get as well as stating my opinion and varying points of view on this subject.

Buying New Fur
Buying new fur contributes directly to animal cruelty and fur production. There's no way to buy a fur coat from a department store and not be paying directly into fur manufacturing, it's as simple as that. All stores that sell brand new fur contributes to these practices, second hand stores sell used fur, which doesn't pay into animal cruelty or fur production, but that becomes a matter of personal moral and opinion.

Buying Fur Second Hand
Buying fur from second hand stores such as vintage shops, thrift stores, etc. does not at all contribute to fur manufacturing, and there are many people who only condone wearing fur when it is second hand or cruelty free. The fact of the matter is, someone else already paid for it, they already paid into the fur industry and there's absolutely nothing you can do, not buying the item isn't going to turn back time and make it so that it didn't happen. The only thing buying fur from a second hand store will do is make sure the store stays open another day. Buying vintage or second hand fur also puts fur that has already been created to good use, which is better than throwing it away, making the animals death entirely pointless and in vain. All throwing second hand fur away does, is wastes it. If you still do not believe in wearing the fur, then that's your own personal choice and are welcome to it, just please keep this in mind when seeing other people who wear fur.

Buying Faux Fur
Buying faux fur is a great alternative to real fur, however it is not always cruelty free and not at all biodegradable. If you're conscious about the environment, it is actually much better to buy and wear vintage fur (for the above reasons) that IS biodegradable, than buy faux fur that will be in a land fill for thousands of years.  Also, even if the fur is faux, quite a few clothing companies still do animal testing, sell real fur, use child labor or extremely harsh labor of adults in countries like Taiwan and China. Yes, there are STILL clothing companies that do all of these things. If these are also issues for you, it's a good idea to do some research on the stores you like to shop at. If you have no issues with these practices, or the store you are shopping at does not perform them, than faux fur is definitely a good alternative to real fur. I just feel that it is important to mention that just because a company has faux fur, it doesn't mean it is entirely cruelty free.

Buying Cruelty Free Fur 
It is entirely possible to buy fur that was humanely acquired. I have actually come by quite a few vendors who acquire their animals from animal sanctuaries, from natural deaths in environments like the ocean or the forest, or found them as a result of road kill, which is more often than not an accident. If you are curious about how a vendor acquires their animals, you can contact them and they can give you their information and they may even be able to show documents and proof their practices are humane. Still, if you feel suspicious, feel free not to purchase from that vendor and find one that makes you feel better. If you want anymore information regarding this, I wrote an article on TheRealSebastianColumbine.blogspot.com



Is It Wrong Morally?
That's entirely based on personal opinion and personal morals, I once wrote an article on my personal blog, above mentioned, answering questions and discussing the morals behind taxidermy collecting, and one of the points I raised is that it's cultural norm to bury the dead or cremate them, so much so that people think any other way is wrong and disrespectful. I know many people believe that when something dies, it should be buried to be rejoined with the earth, however please keep in mind that's one person's personal opinion. Some people/cultures believe that all dead things, including humans should be laid out to be consumed by other animals. Some people/cultures believe that death is a spiritual, sacred event and keep momentos, taxidermy and other preservations of their dead loved ones and pets.

Here is my own personal opinion on the subject, to quote my article directly:
"If it's dead, you should just bury it, that's much more respectful!" I personally find burial in particular (I like cremation a bit better, but still not so much) to not be very respectful at all, but that's just my opinion. More often than not, humans bury their loved ones, visit a few times and forget about them, being in the funerary business this is very bothersome for me because I see this quite often. Something I love about taxidermy is that the dead are preserved and are able to be kept in a home, where you can visit and admire every day. I can sit down and tell them all how pretty and wonderful they are, as creepy as that sounds, and pay my respects regularly. I personally look at my collection often, and enjoy wearing bone and taxidermy jewelry, I would much rather wear or look at animals daily than just bury them in the ground and forget about them. 

Remember you are all entitled to have entirely different opinions.

But Fur Belongs to Animals

It's true, but here are a few points I would like to raise:

1. You are entirely entitled to believe that, and if you do, more power to you, but again, please keep in mind people have their own reasons for the things they do in their own lives. You never know if the fur coat someone is wearing is from their deceased grandmother who was very special to them, or if it has some other sentimental value. You probably wouldn't want someone screaming at you because of what you're wearing, because in reality they don't know you or your life enough to judge you, so my best advice is to live and let live.

2. Now, I have met huge animal rights activists who cannot be entirely vegan due to a health reasons, still they do everything in their power to be cruelty free, or vise versa. The point of being for animal rights is doing as much as you possibly can, as long as you're doing your absolute best, that's all that matters. however more often that not, the people I see harassing others based on the fact they collect taxidermy, wear fur, wear leather, eat meat, etc., DO other things that directly contribute to animal cruelty all the time, without any good reason. For example: "I can't stop eating certain meats/fish because I have a vitamin deficiency and I could get really sick and die" or "The medicine I take is tested on animals, but its extremely necessary and I can't avoid it" are very good reasons, your health matters the most. But "I don't want to stop eating meat because it tastes good" or "I don't feel like buying different products" are not good reasons at all. Now this isn't AT ALL about animal rights, I am not pushing personal beliefs on anyone, I am just trying to be as detailed as humanly possible in my explanation. I am only a vegetarian who would one day like to be vegan, and who is still desperately trying to transition from makeup brands that test on animals to brands that don't, I'm not innocent. The point I am making here is in reality there are very few people in the world who are not contributing to animal cruelty in some shape or form whatsoever, and that's just something to keep in mind when judging and harassing others for their choices. 

3. Killing an animal for any reason is definitely wrong, however, if it is dead it is dead. If a fox laid down and died and a taxidermist found it and stuffed it, I personally don't think the fox would have been very offended by that because it's dead. This does go along with one's personal beliefs on the after life, but again, that's my personal opinion on the matter, feel free to believe other wise. It's important to remember that just because humans have certain beliefs and systems at which we handle things, does not mean animals think the same way, or are even capable of so. I doubt an animal has any understanding of the idea of wearing fur, taxidermy, etc., let alone have any kind of opinion on it. Who knows, they very well could, but I really don't think so.




But second hand/cruelty free fur perpetuates the idea that fur is okay and leads to people who are uneducated topic to buy fur


In terms of this, here are your options:

1. Don't wear the fur. If this possibility is stressful for you, you are in no way obligated to believe or follow anyone else's beliefs or reasonings.

2. Educate people. Talk about this topic on your social networking sites, to your friends, family, etc. If you post any photos of your vintage or cruelty free fur, make sure you state that its vintage or cruelty free, some people simply don't know cruelty free fur is even possible. If someone on the street asks you where you got your fur, what kind of animal it is, etc., give them information on the stores you shop at, and strongly encourage them to buy cruelty free or vintage, don't be mean or pushy, but a simple "I encourage you to buy vintage/cruelty free, it's cheaper and much more ethical than buying new fur" is sufficient. After that there is nothing else you can do, you tried your best, people will do whatever they want at that point.

3. Live your life. No matter what people are going to disagree with everything and anything you do, there's just no way to please everyone. If you feel you are doing your best for animals, you are comfortable with your actions and you have well thought out set of morals that agree with you personally, then just live your life and continue to be you.
Remember that everyone is entitled to live their life however they choose to, you do not know everything about someone or their choices, especially based on their physical representation. I really hope that this article was helpful, if anyone has any questions, comments or further information you would like, you can comment down below and I can make another post about this in the future. However, if the comments you post are hateful, or state things that have already been answered or thoroughly discussed in this article, I will remove them to avoid any confusion. 

3 comments:

  1. I read your post about this topic on your other blog, and I highly agree with it. This post was just as well written and I enjoyed it. Thank you for distinguishing between buying new fur and buying second hand fur! This is something I often try to explain to people when they question my choices, but they refuse to understand. :(

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  2. Hi dear! I'm Eva an underground artist from hungary.

    I am happy you wrote this post! I love animals, i help animals/pets in trouble, and would NEVER hurt them!- but i wear leather jackets - they remember me of my husband, a punk-artist who died 7 years ago and always weared punk leather jackets. He HATED fake leather....and i LOVED him and still do! I like everything that remembers me on him. He was a great expressionist painter and a very good hearted fellow.

    I also don't think that eating meat is against nature because in nature ,when you look around, every creature is eating another living creature...animals and plants: even plants kill other plants to get a better place on the sun, and there are "predator" plants, too....and this IS nature!!!! When i eat a potato is as cruel as when i eat an animal i think. But THIS IS NATURE- full of agression and there are hunters and preys.

    The problem is with meat, ishow people hold these animals until they die. i prefer bio farms where animals live free and happy as long as they are alive. I try to use crulety free cosmetics too. But ,i am a poor artist so sometimes i cannot look what's crulety free, sometimes i just look what's CHEAP....i'm living in hungary ,here is very hard to buy those products. And everything is very expensive and people don't buy art! (i grew up in germany, wanna gfo back there one day... )

    And, YES: i also use fur and bones for art pieces....i got some fox fur from a homeless, he found it in an old house, so i don't think i'm an "animal torturer" because i used it! Though it's SHIT that i cannot post the things i made of it because people attacking me for being a "monster"!

    I also have a favorite earring, a crow-foot., it's been made of Tamas Kiraly, who was a great weird hungarian underground fashion designer , he got killed last year ...i knew him he was a real cultic-figure here.( he learned by Vivienne Westwood) I wanted an earring since about 20 years when i saw it in his VERY SMALL fashion shop, but i didn't have the money...when i had money ,the earring was no more available...but, before a few years he gave me one!

    I love it, wear it and i don't care of those people who think i'm "bad"!

    Things are NOT that "black or white" as some people think! Yes i CAN BE an animal friend AND eat meat and wear fur or leather! You must see the whole circumstances ,before you say this or that about someone.
    i would never buy an expensive fur coat in a shop., i would never kill an animal for its fur! I HATE things that going on in the meat and milk industry and i'm against animal testing. But though i use fur and i eat meat and i'm NOT a monster .
    Thanx for this post!

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  3. Totally happy to see such an intelligently written post about your feelings on fur vs. faux fur. As a vegan, AND a fellow goth, I always am open to seeing other peoples opinions. I am a little concerned about this comment, however:

    "Buying faux fur is a great alternative to real fur, however it is not always cruelty free and not at all biodegradable. If you're conscious about the environment, it is actually much better to buy and wear vintage fur (for the above reasons) that IS biodegradable, than buy faux fur that will be in a land fill for thousands of years."

    To a certain degree, you are right. But there are some facts you aren't considering. According to Peta2, real fur isn't biodegradable because chemicals are used to stop the fur from rotting. When left in a landfill, real fur will leech these harmful chemicals into the earth, and even our water supplies. In terms of actually buying fur new, it uses up so much energy, resources, and chemicals that it's actually better for the environment to buy faux fur new, even though it's plastic. It takes much less energy and resources to create faux fur, and yes, since it is plastic it'll technically be around almost forever, but if taken care of, you can pass your garments down in your family, or give them to thrift stores to keep other people warm for hopefully centuries to come.

    Really enjoying your blog, Sebastian! It's nice to see someone run a blog with such intelligence. I'm really tired of following these blogs that really have nothing to say aside from what Starbucks drink they had that day. But, to each their own :) Looking forward to new posts from you!

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