Step Away from the FurPosted by Lisa Franzetta, ALDF's Director of Communications on September 26, 2011
I wouldn’t say I’m a slave to fashion, but “indentured servant” seems fairly descriptive. And while I’m more hunter than hoarder, stalking with precision strikes the perfect specimens of gut-crushing vegan corset belts and toe-mashing pseudo-suede platform wedge booties (I’m an 8.5; aren’t you sweet to ask!)–I like to think that, by choosing not to wear fur, leather, or wool, I’m the lone victim of my own style choices. And I’m in good and growing company with every passing season.
Who else did a private cheer from the sofa when, earlier this month, the inimitable Tim Gunn had to get real with Project Runway contestant Josh Christensen in a fabric store, chiding with his dry, paternal charm, “We’re fur free.” The judges have since said “auf Wiedersehen” (twice!) to the pelt-petting Josh C, for those of you who have been too busy watching Jersey Shore in the competing time slot to stay up to date (shame on you, and also–call me).
Meanwhile, Oprah’s O Magazine has vocally announced an anti-fur stance in its current fall fashion issue. The media maven and self-made billionaire describes her own “aha” moment when she gave away all of her own furs 20 years ago, and the issue highlights chic faux alternatives to real fur and even leather throughout…an exciting indicator that the concept of vegan fashion has moved out of the fringe and into the mainstream. You can thank America’s most influential woman for sharing her fur-free stance with her legions of fans by leaving a comment at Oprah.com.
And most exciting, for those of us pushing to help fur-bearing animals through the legal system–on September 20, the City Council of West Hollywood voted unanimously to ban the sale of clothing made of fur, the first such ban in the nation. Following the review of a financial impact study, a final vote will take place next month before the measure becomes law. It’s a natural landmark for the animal-friendly city, which has previously banned the cruel declawing of cats and, most recently, the sale of cats and dogs from puppy and kitten mills.
In its coverage of West Hollywood’s historic vote, the New York Times quoted Keith Kaplan of the Fur Information Council of America, an industry trade group, as stating, “People are still buying fur. If people were not buying it, stores wouldn’t want to sell it. So the animal rights lobby is trying to force through a ban on a legal product.” I’d agree that if there were zero consumer demand for fur, stores would not be selling it–which is why ongoing public educational efforts about the horrific violence behind fur production are still so vital to ending this most disgusting of industries.
And to say that opponents of animal abuse are trying to take a currently legal product–one that is necessarily the product of the painful and gratuitous death of an animal, or many dozens of animals–and make it illegal…well, that’s also accurate. But what’s wrong with that? It’s hardly the first time a legislative or regulatory body has stepped in to provide a moral compass in the thoroughfare of unchecked capitalism. There is a consumer market for sleek ivory tusks, sliced from the bodies of slaughtered elephants; for the horns of desperately endangered rhinos; heaven help us, there is a market for child pornography. But we have decided as a society that democratically elects our lawmakers that the interests of the beings victimized by these moneymaking enterprises outweigh the interests of consumers who would exploit them. And given the abundance of stylish faux fur alternatives–from trendy to high fashion–available faster than you can say “Google,” it’s difficult to argue that today’s fashionista has a very compelling interest in purchasing real animal fur. Slowly but surely, our culture and our laws are converging on a consensus that fashion should be pain-free.
But my feet are still killing me.