The Conversation on Fur

What's your take? Is it ever okay?

LTAIFURedition

As you all know, “Let’s Talk About It” is always a forum for conversation. This week, guest contributor Mattie Kahn takes on the topic of fur.

It started with a hat.

I had been walking home from school some years ago when I noticed a trapper-style chapeau in the window of one of my favorite neighborhood boutiques. Justifying my investigation as a necessary respite from the cold afternoon, I ducked in and tried it on. When I found my reflection in the store’s gilded mirrors, a fourteen-year-old, female version of Ernest Shackleton stared back at me. Intoxicated, I asked a visibly bored saleswoman how much the deliciously warming wonder would cost.

“It’s on sale,” she drawled and priced it at $75. “Oh, and that’s real rabbit fur,” she added, pointing to its sumptuous lining.

My mother hated it immediately. She may have deemed its archetypal silhouette “cute,” and its superlative ability to stave off frostbite “practical,” but she flatly refused to condone the purchase. “I’m not the kind of person who wears fur,” she said simply. “Not ever.”

Should I have anticipated her disapproval? Probably. My mother has always been something of an activist. She hasn’t eaten meat since 1975. A few years ago, she pasted a sign to our front door that read, “Stop! Did you turn off the lights?” She remains the only member of our household that remembers whether yogurt containers are recyclable. (They are. I think?)

But despite such convincing evidence, her morally charged disapproval caught me off guard. It didn’t seem fair that someone who wore leather and ate omelets could so unilaterally condemn fur! How hypocritical! Still, after my red-hot teenage brand of indignation subsided, I could not so easily dismiss her barely disguised censure.

“Your grandmother always wore fur,” my father told me later, somewhat conspiratorially. According to family lore, Nana’s achingly elegant father had given her a floor-length mink for her seventeenth birthday. Over time, she amassed a collection of them — beaver jackets and fox stoles and a particularly striking, Margot Tenenbaum-esque number. It was all terribly glamorous. And vaguely uncomfortable.

On the condition that I pay for it, my mother let me keep the hat. But I couldn’t bring myself to wear the offending topper. Racked with the guilt of a Dostoyevsky character, I needed to dispose of the evidence. The hat had to go. Because the store wouldn’t allow me to return it, I wrapped the cap in several sheets of tissue paper, nestled it in a festive bag, and gifted it to my best friend.

However, I hadn’t banished the hat because of its flesh-and-blood origins. It was my mother’s not unkind, but firm criticism of it that drove its exile. I may have regretted buying the accessory, but I felt worse about myself for this ugly truth: I still liked it. Even now, as I might readily criticize the oft-corrupt fur trade, I find myself irresistibly drawn to luxurious raccoon-trimmed hoods and shearling bombers. If pressed, I’d denounce their very existence. And yet occasionally I have to remind myself to keep my hands to myself as they hang on store racks. Sometimes, I see their appeal. Other times, I’m absolutely horrified that anyone would buy them.

Given the arctic chill that held New York in its deathly grips earlier this week, it seems like as good a time as any to have what writer Pamela Erens terms The Conversation. In an essay published on Elle.com, she writes:

[T]he public obsession with fur as uniquely immoral puzzles me. The realities associated with the raising, penning, and slaughtering of beef cattle are equally appalling, and the number of animals killed for meat dwarfs that of those killed for fur. In 2012 about 9 billion farm animals were slaughtered by the meat industry in the U.S. alone; the number for fur animals is 50 million worldwide…I know these facts don’t make fur morally stainless, but I have to wonder why the revulsion is so much more instantaneous when it comes to fur. Needless to say, almost none of the people who comment on my fur wearing eschew meat or leather.

In the subsequent dialogue around Erens’ piece, commenters’ views have been as passionate as they are opposing. But what do you think? Is Erens right? Is anti-fur sentiment as hypocritical as she suggests? Do you — like those who remark on her coat — vilify fur, but revel in leather? If so, why? Is there ever an ethical way to sport either material? Or are you completely, morally opposed?

Go on. Don’t spare me the hairy details. Let’s talk about it.

Image via Tumblr

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Thoughts?
  • Lavinia E

    the more fur the better.

    that is all.

    http://thegirlwiththepaintedpout.blogspot.com/

    • Mars

      Wow, what a proficient comment! Could you amplify your argument please? And before you do so – would you take a look at this site: http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/fur/?

      • Eloise

        Thankyou for sharing that article. Maybe uneducated materialistic morons like the one above will read it and register human emotion. Then again, they probably won’t #YOLO

    • Eloise

      Stupid girl

  • Annie

    I JUST DON’T KNOW. I am a vegetarian but I also wear leather so everyone is a hypocrite and I guess you make your efforts where you can.

    • Mattie Kahn

      Really respect this viewpoint. Ethical issues are never black and white, but making an effort counts for something.

      • http://www.dixiebeauty.com/ Inside Outer Beauty

        Absolutely!

    • Elif

      I think I’m with you on that one. I eat meat, always have – always will, and I wear leather but I try not to buy real fur. I guess that’s because I can find replacements for fur – not just faux fur but other kinds of coats, scarves etc – but with leather I can never find a material as cold-proof and durable as leather. (Excuse me, I live in Montreal and I can not live on faux leather boots or trousers) Instead of bashing people and accusing them of hypocrisy, it’s best to adopt the “every thought counts” mentality.

      http://www.thefashionmedley.com/

    • Ivana Džidić

      they say leather is a by product. They would kill all those cows for their meat… if that makes you feel better:) I used to be vegetarian, but now I occasionally eat fish and chicken because of the iron deficit.

      • AlkaPalka

        chicken and fish won’t provide iron, do your research lovely, before you drop dead

      • http://seldommodish.blogspot.co.uk/ Meg

        That’s what I tried telling myself but unfortunately leather isn’t only a by-prodct nowadays and you can never be sure of whether a cow has been killed for its meat and skin or only its skin. I use a lot of vitamin supplements too but for iron you could try foods such as apricots, green veg such as spinach or curly kale, beans and nuts which are rich in iron :)

    • Annie

      I totally agree. Everyone has their own moral standards for different things.
      If I can judge someone for smoking, they can judge me for wearing fur.

    • http://www.dixiebeauty.com/ Inside Outer Beauty

      Best comment yet. I too am a vegetarian. And, I also wear leather in shoes and handbags. I make an effort not to buy fur or leather clothing. But, the fact that I wear leather in my shoes and handbags does not make be any better for it. My hope is that one day I will be able to eliminate them period. So, you’re absolutely right, we make the best efforts we can.

    • http://www.dixiebeauty.com/ Inside Outer Beauty

      Best comment yet. I too am a vegetarian. And, I also wear leather in shoes and handbags. I make an effort not to buy fur or leather clothing. But, the fact that I wear leather in my shoes and handbags does not make me any better for it. My hope is that one day I will be able to eliminate them period. So, you’re absolutely right, we make the best efforts we can.

    • Annie

      No one is 100% ethical and moral in their decisions is also a thing. We’re impulsive and sometimes we crack for things we know we shouldn’t. Eating meat is terrible for the environment but most people do it. It’s about weighing things out and making an effort without punishing yourself.

    • http://seldommodish.blogspot.co.uk/ Meg

      I agree and sometimes it’s hard to draw the line but my only comment would be to do the best you can, research things and work out what you can and can’t do in regards to your morals

  • Malorie Bertrand

    I don’t agree with buying new fur. I wear second-hand fur because I believe in recycling and I’m a big supporter and promoter of second-hand/vintage purchases. I don’t often buy leather items, maybe once or twice a year and when I do, I make sure it’s high quality, Italian leather that will last me a lifetime. It’s more environmentally friendly to buy a pair of leather boots that you can repair and wear for 15 years than to buy a new pair of pleather ones every season. We know how quickly those break down! I’m careful to buy leather that came from cows that were treated well. I avoid leather from India and China because I know of the horrific life those poor creatures live to eventually become a cheap handbag or pair of gloves.

    As for fur, I think what turns people off the most is the terrible nature of the industry. More often than not, these animals are always skinned alive because it’s harder to skin a dead animal. That thought alone should turn most people away from ever wanting fur ever again. Second, other animals have their anus electrocuted and so on. I have to do more digging but I think leather can come from cows that are also slaughtered for food? Maybe not? Regardless, people have less of a problem killing animals for food than just for fashion.

    Just so happens I also posted about wearing second-hand fur just this morning on my sustainable fashion blog. Have a read through and let me know what you think. http://efmagazine.com/2014/01/09/is-wearing-second-hand-fur-a-faux-pas/

    • Ivana Džidić

      yes I was also always told that leather is a by product of meat industry so animals are not directly killed because of it.

    • Tiff

      I recently purchased a second hand fur coat and was just as recently attacked via Instagram for the purchase. Your thoughts towards second hand fur are my thoughts exactly , thank you for allowing me to enjoy my fabulous indulgence a little less guilt free.

      • http://www.dreaminlace.com/ DreamInLace

        I’m sorry someone attacked you! Making the decision to purchase a fur secondhand is a responsible thing to do. I’m against the fur industry and a vegetarian, but it really nags at me how people fly off the handle about fur at complete strangers. We all need to be respectful of each other!

      • noxulifer

        How is it fabulous to wear something that you know had a horrible life? Regardless of if you paid for it from the distributor or through a second hand shop it is still promoting fur in the fashion industry.

    • http://www.dreaminlace.com/ DreamInLace

      I agree on your notion of second hand. I’m a vegetarian and don’t buy real fur or leather firsthand – but I have purchased second hand leather materials. Second hand is totally another issue. And if someone is getting rid of a fur, it’s always a really great thing to donate it to Goodwill/the salvation army…but also especially to homeless shelters who will give that coat to someone in desperate need to keep them warm.

      If you think about it it’s taking a negative and turning it into a positive. Yes, the fur industry is very negative and needs to change…animals are skinned alive and electricuted, you can find live video of this happening. But, if you can take that horrific truth and be able to help an organization like Goodwill etc. by purchasing a second hand fur OR donating a fur you have to a homeless person in need…it’s making the life of the animal lost have meaning.

  • Morgan

    That Dostoevsky reference made me swoon, he’s my absolute favorite. Not trying to be “that person”, but it looks like you added an extra “y” in the middle there.
    About fur: when I was a little girl, I used to go into my Grandma’s closet and get her fur (probably faux) coat, put it on and go outside onto the swing set and swing for hours just…because. I understand it making you feel bad. Sometimes seeing a massive fur coat makes me a little uncomfortable as well. Then I think about it and surmise that I shouldn’t feel guilty about it if I don’t feel guilty about eating meat (sorry!). If people have adverse reactions to it, then they are certainly entitled to that feeling and to the option of never wearing fur or even eating meat. As for the rest of us, we will do what we do, possibly buying huge fur coats and hoping they don’t get red paint splattered on them.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Hey Morgan! Thanks so much for sharing your story and thoughtful comment. I just did a little googling and it seems that Dostoyevsky is the common spelling (perhaps when translated into English?) so I’m going to leave for now, though it’s “sometimes transliterated as Dostoevsky,” (per wikipedia) since his name is Russian and that alphabet is different than the English alphabet. Not to get off topic but if anyone else has any more insight (Russian speakers??) I’d love it!

      • Morgan

        I have all of his novels and short stories, so I just went and looked at my collection–you are right! My books are actually split half and half between “Dostoevsky” and “Dostoyevsky”. My apologies! I definitely would like to hear the opinion of a Russian speaker though, that would be amazing.

        • Amelia Diamond

          NO apologies necessary I love these types of tidbits I find them so interesting! Also now you’re inspiring me to go visit the library!

          • Mattie Kahn

            Ditto! Thanks for chiming in. (I love him, too.)

        • Adi

          Russian reporting for duty here. There is no exact appropriate letter in English to approximate the beauty that’s happening between the “Dosto” and the “vsky” in Dostoyevsky. In Russian, in “Достое́вский” there is one letter there and specifically “e”, however it’s pronounced “ye” like in “yeah”.
          So I guess it’s for the English speaker to determine what sounds more like “ye” here.
          While we’re on the subject, there is also an additional letter at the end of his name that is dismissed in the English spelling – and it’s the “й” – in English it would be pronounced like the “y” in “yolo”.
          This is because he’s a male. His wife is “Dostoyevskaya” for example.

          So if we’re being very pedantic Russians here – I would write it “Dostoyevskiy”.

          • Morgan

            Thanks for sharing, Adi! This makes my day to know! I won’t be burning all my books with the other spelling though :).

      • Quinn Halman

        The 2 Ys would be right because it’s truer to the russian pronunciation (dus-toy-EV-skee)

        • Katya

          I second that :)

  • guest

    There should be a rule where you can wear fur only if you witness the process of making whatever fur garment it is you want to wear. If you can witness it firsthand without horror and still want to wear that fur garment afterwards…. well then…. fine. And you might be a monster.

    • Petronella

      Same for eating meat??

      • guest

        Yes. I’m a vegetarian. :)

        • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

          I did witness slaughtering of animals for meat as a child, because that was what you did at the time if you had a farm. You cut the pig’s throat and waited till it screamed its breath out. Dying animals also change their smell quite strongly and that is something I have never forgotten – life smelling so much differently than death :-(
          Yet I only stopped eating meat when I lived somewhere else and would have to buy meat and my only official explanation so far is “meat doesn’t taste or smell good”. I do care much about the welfare of the animals, but I keep this sort of private. I cannot preach animal welfare because I wear leather. And eat eggs (from free range hens). And drink milk & Co. (from cows pastured in the mountains cause that’s how it is done here, in my region). There are slaughtering processes nowadays where they let the animals fall asleep due to carbomonoxyde first, to give them a painless death, but not every pig has lived a happy life before being sent to sleep painlessly. So there’s always a risk of causing pain – I feel guilty as ever, but I still try to do my best.

      • http://www.anativeblonde.com/ Jess H.

        I read this article that offered that you should try to only eat animals you’re comfortable with killing yourself.

        It changed my perspective on the entire issue, which I previously saw as a binary between carnivore or vegan. I still think about it almost every time I’m looking at a dinner menu and pick more vegetables, seafood, eggs or chicken because of it.

        Plus I grew up on a farm and had pet ducks and orphaned calves, so I entirely avoid restaurants that serve veal and foie gras, after just thinking about… someone else… thinking about… being comfortable killing them.

        • http://sanfranista.wordpress.com/ Sarah

          I think that’s an excellent point. I’m from the Bay Area but grew up in rural Minnesota, and I had several friends who grew up on farms and were familiar with the slaughtering process. There were also kids whose families hunted deer during season and then froze the meat for the rest of the year. I have so much respect for that, for being honest about the fact that meat doesn’t just magically appear in patty or nugget form. So many people are disconnected from the origins of the things that they eat, and we’d be better served morally and ecologically to restore that understanding.

          • http://www.anativeblonde.com/ Jess H.

            Sometimes it’s tough to determine what’s stranger – that from a young age we kept animals I eventually consumed, or that I have become so disconnected from it that now I have no idea where or how my food is raised beyond what’s written on a box. It is so gratifying to have a tiny urban garden every summer, but still tough to stomach (hardy har) such a disconnect from the origins of grocery store and restaurant animal products. My fiance has decidedly vetoed a midtown chicken coup or mama goat, so my faith is in Trader Joe’s, and family produce and meat each summer, until further notice!

    • Thamsa

      This is an interesting comment. I do think that we should be aware of what it takes to enjoy the products we consume. I eat meat, but only when I know it’s come locally and has been raised and slaughtered ethically. Ethical meat might not sit well with people, but it does with me and if people still think Im a monster for that, so be it. The same goes for the leather and fur industries, I know there are ethical sources for leather products (Im not so sure about fur) but it’s worth investigating

    • Michaela

      I totally agree with you. I actually think that we overall should not be allowed to consume anything before witness the process of making. In the animal product discussion i would recommend everyone to watch Earthlings (with Joaquin Phoenix), it turned me into a vegetarian. There is also a lot of documentarys about the clothing industry. To watch the circumstances at H&Ms textile production made me totally sick, they do not treat there employers as humans. Blackfish helped me make a descission about never visit Seaworld and other such amusement parks with my kids again. It is so important to be aware of all the circumstances behind the scenes before making decisions. We are the consumers and we are responsible for everything we choose to support!

  • Katrina

    I’m a deer meat and deer leather kind of girl. Free roaming, no suffering, and less car crashes. It all depends on what you have locally and can sustain.

    • Patricia

      Couldn’t agree with you more. Here where I live in Florida we have garden and water snakes infestations all the time, and if we don’t get rid of them they’ll eat all the birds eggs, squirrels babies and so on. so I’m all about wearing snake skin products.

  • Quinn Halman

    I find fur to be quite glamorous. These great floor-length fur coats just emulate glamour to me. My great grandmother said “dasvedanya” to her family in Russia and came over on her own. As her nothingness turned into a great family, she would always have these furs and that’s how she would spoil herself. My mom has a leopard fur coat which I call her “fabulous coat” and I gave it that name last year. In Judaism, leather is a sign of wealth so on certain holidays (the fasting days) it is forbidden. With all that being said as I’ve grown older I’ve become more and more OK with animal fur. I’ve had the same rabbit stuffed animal since I was born so it’s just morally wrong for me to eat or wear rabbit and that’s really the only animal I have an issue with. Part of me knows the animal will die eventually but the other part of me doesn’t want to be the one to make it come sooner than it has to. Is it wrong that I’ve become more passive with fur/leather?

    Even though I don’t really have a specific stance on the issue and support animal rights (to a certain extent), PETA can sometimes make it hard. I may not like Kim Kardashian but dumping flour on her is just so excessive and totally uncalled for. It’s hard to get people to support what you stand for when you are publicly harassing and attacking someone. If people want to wear fur and leather it’s up to them but if I ever get enough money to buy myself a good fur coat, I would want to know that it’s coming from a good source

    • http://www.dreaminlace.com/ DreamInLace

      I agree completely on your thought on PETA and the flour bombing incident (although I did slightly enjoy it as she can be quite annoying haha). When they lash out at people with flour or paint, or whatever…it actually does much more harm to their cause than it does good. Instead we should be working to educate people on the fur industry and trying to work together to change it! Throwing flour on people is just childish and stupid

  • Emma Barrette

    I think a solution would be to fined leather and fur suppliers that use the skins from meat factories, so as not to waste. I don’t know how common or easily found that is, but since there will always be people who eat meat, why not make sure the rest of the animal does not go to waste?

  • ashleymaciejewski

    I live for luxury fabrics, designs and the whole Olsen/Traina aesthetic. Faux fur is better and more real looking than ever before. And for that, I am thankful.

  • Rachael King

    I’m living in Italy at the moment and fur does not have the same stigma here, all the women have glorious full length furs. I have a vintage fur cape, I and I’m definitely ok with vintage fur. I’m also ok with possum and rabbit fur as I come from nz and these animals are huge pests there and are actively culled. It’s about thinking through the whole picture rather than just deciding all fur is unethical and I do agree that the outrage against fur is a little hypocritical. I think it’s easy to slander wealthy women being cruel to animals just to look pretty. There are some women though that have really thought it through completely, like stella McCartney for instance who whole heartedly live their beliefs (no leather, no animal products) and I really admire them for it.

    • Mattie Kahn

      As I was considering this, I did wonder, briefly, whether deifying Stella McCartney was the appropriate response to this whole issue. God, she’s amazing.

    • Ale

      I’m surprised to see you mention Italy – I am Italian and I can’t recall seeing so many furs around! It really is an “older lady” kind of item. And the weather doesn’t really call for fur wearing. It feels to me that you are massively generalizing…

      • Rachael King

        Well I live in northern Italy where the weather certainly does warrant fur, and the fact that old ladies wear it is kind of my point, fur is just accepted there is no stigma to wearing it. I am comparing this to living in new zealand, the uk and travelling in the US where in my experience very few people wear fur, where as where I now live every third person has a fur coat.

  • http://funkymonkynancy.tumblr.com/ Nancy S.

    :/ def. not a conversation to bring up at a dinner party? I don’t personally own any fur…fake or real but interested to read what others have to say here.

    The Artistically Challenged: Beauty, Fashion, Music, Lifestyle Blog

  • Eileen

    People would wear fur if there was no moral code imposed upon them from the rest of society, People fear being judged. If they truly had a problem with fur then give up leather,meat and dome forms of wool as well. Don’t criminalize those who do choose to wear it either no people are saints in all aspects of life you have to use your own moral code to guide you and not to restrict the actions of others

    • Rougeuse

      This is a very good point. I will just agree on everything you said. :)

  • be

    you should see videos about how they obtain the fur. and then think about it. There are great faux fur options, so I think something that cruel is not necesary at all.

  • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

    Well, just imagine yourself walking around in Polar Vortex NY when you encounter this huge … raven. It sits there and thinks: “hmmmm, I could look really beautiful beneath that lovely human hair. And folks would like me cause my boring black feathers would be so well adorned. Not to mention the warmth …” So it sits on your head, picks your eyes out in a sec and while you are wondering who put the light off it scalps you with its beak. And flies away admiring itself in many many NY windows … Why shouldn’t it? Surely birds may allow themselves some luxury items they don’t really need (cause our raven could also look for some cassette tapes or leaves or feathers or … and use them as an interesting item of styling and for additional warmth, if truth be told).

    That said, I am vegetarian and I do wear leather shoes. I also own a few leather bags and belts but have stopped buying those quite some time ago because they suffice and because it is not necessary to buy real leather when I am also happy with what Tom Tailor, H&M & Co. have to offer.
    But I do need leather shoes: I also own and wear faux leather/canvas etc. shoes, but not in winter, not for hiking and when I am going to walk a lot. Because nothing else will keep my feet healthy in these situations. I have had most of my boots for … ages and I take good care of them. I also work at home so it is quite possible I am going to wear my red Docs at 85, forever thankful to the cow who died for them. Really.

    Once I had a fake leather, fake fur jacket on and it seemed to me shop assistants were much friendlier to me than usual :-) So there must be something about being impressive with all that stuff (but it also seems to work with faux stuff).

    • karin

      I think there are some great point made in the comments above – everybody does what they can and should not be attacked for their choice.

      Having said that I would like to raise a point to those who do judge fur wearers and opt for faux fur and faux leather especially at low prices such as at H&M – to consider what effect the production of these faux products has on the environment but also consider how these products are able to be so cheap. Before strongly judging someone who wears fur, perhaps take a moment to consider what were the working conditions of the person who produced that inexpensive faux fur/leather jacket – if you spend 20 dollars on a faux leather jacket, how much is actually left for that factory worker after the company has taken their cut…

      http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2013/sep/23/workers-in-bangladesh-long-hours
      http://www.channel4.com/news/bangladesh-factory-fire-clothing-fatal-aswad-rana-plaza

      I agree, we should treat animals better, but one fur jacket can be handed down generations. Faux products are not completely ethical, not in how they are made and how often they need to be replaced…its just not black or white.

      So I reiterate …everybody does what they can, and beware of how quickly and who you judge.

      • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

        Well, that’s another thing of which I am guilty: I simultaneously shop at H&M and a German shop offering organic materials and clothes made by well-paid people in friendly environments (they really do that). Now, the reason why I am so upset about those Angora rabbits in CHina is that I had just bought a dress at H&M which contains 5 % Angora. I often buy clothes made from natural fibres (in my organic, sustainable production shop), because I don’t like the man made ones too much. And then it turned out Angora rabbits are treated like shit in China plus 95% of Angora wool comes from China. :-(
        Right now, I am once again fed up with these issues so I am once again having a 6-month-no-clothes-shopping period. This is my second one so far. The other 2 things I do so as not to litter the planet with too much clothes garbage is I give away clothes to certain persons I know (only clothes without sings of usage and of course laundered) and I re-fashion them (meaning I pull out my sewing machine and change them if the reason for not wearing them is sudden dislike) And btw: the best “Refashionistas” I know and have taken much inspiration from are American :-)

        As for fur wearers … I have never really made an effort to sort out my feelings about them. It is just that I know so much about the slaughtering and usage of animal bodies from first-hand experience and that it is a part of my nature to avoid that as much as possible that I shudder at the thought of fur. Or meat. You know, this is quite personal for me.

        Then again, I am also a birdwatcher. And yes, I watch and like birds of prey, too :-) I am even an occasional zoo visitor.

        No area where I could be called innocent then. No need to grab a stone to throw it, either. :-)

  • Celeste

    Same thing happened to me when I was 14–saw a rabbit fur-lined hat and HAD TO HAVE IT. I still have it today but hardly wear it, mostly because it’s kind of ridiculous-looking on me. I agree about the double standard–it’s kind of confusing. I also agree with an earlier commenter about making the effort when and where you feel you can. It’s hard to take a stance on one thing without unraveling a whole string of things; if we all really thought about the animal cruelty, we’d all be vegans. I guess that’s why it’s confusing for me at times to think about vegetarianism–if you’re that courageous to ban meat from your life (maybe courageous isn’t the right word haha, I’m just saying that, for me, barring animal products from my life would be difficult and if I wasn’t such a weenie and actually considered animal rights, that I’d have to give it all up), then why don’t they go all the way and ban all products from their lives? It seems sometimes like an all-or-nothing situation to me, which makes the issue of animal rights and products so difficult to navigate.

    • michelle

      It’s not and all-or-nothing situation. It’s one step at a time. If you are informed about an issue, you instantly know wether you are for or against it. It’s about sticking up for what you believe in. Nothing will make you feel better and more proud of yourself like making the choice to support what you believe in. Sometimes some issues are easier than others. Don’t let anyone shame you about eating meat if you haven’t made that choice yet. But if you don’t want to participate in the meat industry anymore, even if you still eat meat that’s OK too. Maybe one day you will change your mind, maybe not… I think there ARE some crazy judgemental people out there that start acting irrational because they are so passionate about their beliefs, and that scares people off. But that happens everywhere.

    • http://www.anativeblonde.com/ Jess H.

      I also bought this fur-lined hat at 14 but stopped wearing after, I don’t know, I saw a PBS special then went on a Google binge and became more enlightened about animal treatment and also got really into berets and hummus. THEN in college there was this freak snow storm so I started wearing it around campus but left it out once and came home to what I thought were the mangled body parts of local squirrels strewn around the living room as some disgusting prank because my little dog had DEMOLISHED that fur hat all over the *#&%ing house.

      I sometimes think of it as his own quiet, sentient retribution for my decision to buy it in the first place… Kipper, friend of the rabbits.

  • REM

    I only buy secondhand fur because it’s all I can afford. And i love my leather pieces. I also eat meat, and only support local leather and local meat markets in my area, so I know where it is coming from.

    My old roomate, however, was such a fucking hypocrite about being a “vegan” (she was really vegetarian), and not hesitating to tell me i was a terrible person for eating meat, but would go out and buy a real leather marc jacobs purse, mass produced leather jacket, or fur mitts at a moments notice. (I am not ranting just because she was a vegetarian, but because i hated her for a million other reaons. Hence why we dont live together anymore.) /endrant

  • joaliano

    I appreciate Pamela Erens’ argument. However, we must take into consideration that most American’s consume more meat than they need. Plus, you’re comparing apples and oranges here. One is comfort and style the other is health and nutrition. You don’t need fur to survive…

  • http://evolutionofawallflower.blogspot.com/ Taylor Farnsworth

    Ugh. This has always been a subject of debate for me. I can’t justify buying new fur because I do have that pang of guilt in me, but I do wear vintage and second-hand fur occasionally. I have a collection of vintage fur hats, coats, collars, etc., but they definitely don’t get worn as much as such luxurious, pretty items should. I own them, so why don’t I wear them more? I think it’s simply the fact that even though I love the luxury, I still see it for what it is…I’m wearing an animal. There’s also a lot of the judgment factor that comes into my mind whenever I slip on my fur coat; is someone going to start an argument with me in a PETA frenzy about how what I’m doing is simply wrong? or just judgmental stares making me feel guilty. I do love my fur items, and although they only get the occasional wear, I don’t see myself getting rid of them anytime soon. I will never buy new fur, but I fully endorse any of those vintage and second-hand furs because the damage has already been done and you’re not fueling the fire of the killing of new animals for their furs.

  • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

    I agree with the comments about making efforts in our own ways. I think it is highly important to make whatever efforts we can. Things like recycling really shouldn’t be considered optional or supplementary to our daily lives. Knowing what is and is not recyclable should not be some novel bit of information.
    I eat meat and I am not entirely guilty of doing so. See, my justification for this lies in necessity. The difference for me between eating meat and wearing fur is necessity. We are designed to eat meat, and eradicating it from our diet is not a particularity beneficial practice, especially when we lead very active lifestyles, that include cardiovascular exercise. Fur, on the other hand, is more decorative to me. Sure, it looks pretty (trust me, I think those mural-esque Prada coats are divine-looking), but at the same time we have the ability and technology to utilize materials that can supplement fur wearing. It’s not like we cannot combat the cold if we don’t have a fur. In fact, there are plenty of new materials that fight the frigid temperatures far better, and with less material. One might argue that meat is not necessary to the diet because many people are thriving vegetarians, but looking at it from a purely scientific view (and again with the athletic element in mind), it is more essential than the Prada coat. I run competitively and it is very taxing on the body. If I didn’t eat meat, I would become severely anemic, especially since running leaves me period-less for many months of the year, thus creating a deficiency in many of the natural substances that are typically released during that process.
    Plus, much of the fur hunting is less regulated. Many of the animals that have the fur we desire are endangered, or the brink of becoming endangered. A lot of it is from animals that we do not/cannot easily breed, leaving us to rely on illegal sources and the resources of the wild.

  • Rosebud

    I have two vintage furs that I wear as often as possible, I wouldn’t buy new ones, but love the ones I have dearly.

  • D-Lo

    I see it as having a need to draw a line in the sand somewhere. Yes, I eat meat and yes I wear leather. And I know the argument can be made that I don’t need leather or meat in my life, just as I don’t need fur, however, I think fur is a symbol of luxury and decadence so it has been easy for society to shun it. I think another tricky thing about fur is where it comes from. The vast majority of fur comes from China – not the best track record when it comes to animal rights – which raises more ethical issues. I know you can argue the same regarding leather but two thirds of all leather produced is a by-product of the meat industry so it serves more purpose than letting us have cute shoes and handbags.

  • Ivana Džidić

    I don’t wear fur but I really don’t understand why there is such a campaign against it. I mean a lot more animals get killed for food and yet you do not see vegetarians attacking non vegetarians and spraying them with red paint….and let’s not forget that most people won’t be able to afford fur anyhow. Aren’t there important issues out there? Why do people who wear fur have to feel so guilty about it?

    • Sabrina

      Because of the way the fur is obtained. The animals are skinned alive or anally electrocuted.

  • http://www.adventuresofbarbarella.com/ Diana

    I find the whole argument against fur just lazy…It’s easy to be against something where they skin animals alive, duh, we’re all against that. It’s not as easy to actually do some research, and realise that a) we don’t need to eat meat to survive b) plastics cause the most animal deaths of all. Bottom line for me, it’s about deciding where your morals are and then sticking to them and doing what you can. I’ll wear a vintage fur, and I avoid plastics and throwaway fashion as much as possible, and I eat very little meat. Judging people for wearing fur? I find that really offensive.

  • Ivana Džidić

    I just remembered that once I watched a documentary about people who came from some remote island and visited London for the first time. (reverse colonization or something like that it was called) Later, when they were taken to see farms, they saw one man whose job is to kill rabbits on farms (he does that for a living, the rabbit population has to be controlled he says). They asked him what he does with the fur. He said he has to trow it away because in England no one wears fur. Ironic, right? The rabbits die either way.

    • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

      Well, 95% of angora comes from China, hopefully they kill rabbits in a better way in England …

      • Ivana Džidić

        if I remember well the guy killed them by snapping their necks. It was not a pleasant sight but I guess that no method is painless.

        • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

          Well, wild rabbits in the forest get to die in unpleasant ways, too (predators), but there is a huge difference between keeping them barely alive (not just in China, I have seen some of that in Slovenia, too) and killing them as fast as possible. I’d still shun the fur, though :-( I once bravely decided to make a chicken soup for my husband, because he was ill. So I went and bought some chicken and made the soup. It wasn’t really good cause I never tried it, but the worst part were bits of skin and bones in the rubbish afterwards. I am certainly not a sentimental person, but just a look at those bones reminded me that that used to be a living being … Anyway, my husband said I shouldn’t make him chicken soup ever again, because it is not nice observing my …sagging spirits and unhappiness while making it.

          • Ivana Džidić

            Well, that was sweet of him. I agree with you about the bones part, I often prepare food for others and seeing meat has always made me sick in the stomach. To this day I cannot spend more then a minute in a butcher shop or I would be sick or something. I was vegetarian from my childhood but now I do occasionally eat chicken soup because of the iron deficit. (My diet is very restricted due to IBD)

            I never thought about wearing fur myself, but I don’t judge the others (if they live in a climate where there is an actual need for it).With both fur and meat, there are ethical issues but for me the greatest ethical issue is when I see people who have nothing to eat and sadly that is often the case. From what I have noticed Greenpeace always looks toward the East for examples of cruelty to the animals, and is the situation much better in the West? There is cruelty to animals everywhere and it is always the East that gets all the hype. I cannot swear it to be the case, but these ecological organizations often seem to me a bit racist.

  • isaobeso

    I think nowadays fur must be more of a status symbol than it is a practical item. I get that vintage fur exists, I mean, it does keep you warm; but in a world where so many fibbers and textiles and technique have been developed to create coats and items that do the job perfectly and look just as chic, I don’t get the point in either killing animals for the purpose of skinning them and making them suffer just to keep you warm and give you status. I guess killing animals for food makes more sense to me because I do eat meat and I do wear leather and sometimes a shearling lined coat (which was a gift), but I don’t think I’d ever buy fur just for the sake of it. I’d rather do vintage or faux.

  • Eloise

    To anyone seeking an extra push in a bid to avoid animal products I’d recommend watching the documentary Earthlings. I was physically wailing and hyperventilating to the point my neighbours called home to check everything was alright at home…..

  • ponythings

    I agree with the principles in the Elle article. Even if you look at the way horses are kept, frequently its very cruel – and we’re supposed to love them more cos we don’t eat them (unless you buy Tesco’s of course but lets not get distracted…). Horses are herd animals and need to walk about for 20+ hours a day. Most often they are kept in stables where they can’t interact or even see other horses. It must be torture. So cattle really have no hope – tho’ they are of course kept mostly in herds so that’s a plus. I’ve been involved in farming for a long time and most slaughterhouses are actually very very good, so I think unless you’ve got a really good contextual awareness of the whole supply chain (up to and including slaughter), its best not to comment really as you will be under-informed. I wear fur quite a bit and this is because there is so much great second hand stuff around – or items made from old coats etc. How are fur animals kept and killed. These are the questions we should really be asking. What is their quality of life like? Can they interact. Do they have play objects that are natural to them? If trapped in the wild, are they killed clean and fair and is there a season for hunting – rather like duck or deer for example. When something is dead, who cares what happens if it’s steak or shoes. Organisations like PETA are very good and have done animal welfare a great service, now we must look past the marketing and delve into the detail. I would not buy Chinese fur ever – they tend to suffocate the animals. But US, UK, Canadian etc – yes definitely. Is their a ‘fur mark’ like their is a WoolMark or other standards type agency. There really should be.

  • Elena

    What’s the problem? We’re free to do what we want. Nobody is killed to eat meat. So why hate on people who wear fur ? It’s so provocative to you? Do you react the same way when you see someone eating a hamburger? Do you look to those people like they murderd someone?

    Yes, I think that this anti-fur sentiment is very hypocritical. Maybe those people don’t have the balls to wear it.

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      When we are further endangering animals that are vital to ecosystems that consequently sustain us, are we then “free to do what we want”……?

      • Elena

        Well, maybe I was too harsh. My idea was : we’re free to make a decision. I mean everyone need to decide by themself what is moraly correct. But it is very bad for those how want to wear fur being everytime showed as murderer and ‘bad people who don’t love animals’. Do you know what I’m trying to say?

        • sarah

          everyone is free to make a decision, but most just base them on what they want with little consideration for the back story. ‘ignorance is bliss’ my mother always says, how right she is. i’d prefer to be less ignorant and know what i’m consuming and how it got to me. who will take responsibility if not the consumer? vote with your dollar and sleep better at night.

    • MinnieP

      At least eating meat has the validity point of being a source of nutrients. All fur provides people with nowadays is a status symbol. Are you seriously implying that people don’t wear fur purely because they don’t want to be judged by others? Have you considered it may be because they actually have a moral compass? Or can you not relate to what that is?

      • Elena

        Of course can I relate but do you understand what you’re doing with me? You’re judging me – and I don’t use fur I simply said that I’m not against. So after reading the articel of Leandra I understood that she wasn’t able to wear the hat even though she like it a lot. What does this mean? People who want to wear this clothes need balls. Maybe a lot of people wants to wear fur but they can’t handle the hate.

        • MinnieP

          My argument wasn’t about judgement being unacceptable. Everyone participating in this conversation is judging one another’s opinions and perceived values. My problem was you initially eluding that the entire anti-fur sentiment was motivated by people not “having the balls” to wear it and take the societal criticism. For me personally, and I’m sure many others, the decision to not wear is entirely governed by a genuine love for animals, not by societal constraints. Suggesting you lack a moral compass was admittedly rash and rude of me and for that I apologise. Now that I see your perspective more clearly it makes more sense to me.

          • Elena

            Thank You.

  • MinnieP

    I’m not sure what’s worse…buying fur when you are already aware of its gruesomely-obtained past, or wearing fur without researching its origin at all. Whether you are an informed consumer of the fur industry or an ignorant one, you are frowned upon, and deservingly so.

  • Hayley Elizabeth Lynes

    I completely disagree. I think, meat eaters and veggies should all agree that killing an animal for its fur is immoral. There’s simply no need for it – where humans DO need to eat meat as its part of their natural diet, we don’t need to wear mink coats. It’s this unnecessary killing of animals which makes the fur industry much more immoral. The thing with wearing leather is that its a lot harder to avoid, only a select handful of brands offer ‘vegan’ shoes – living a completely vegan lifestyle is almost impossible. However, wearing a fur coat is just obnoxious.

    • Hayley Elizabeth Lynes

      Eating meat and wearing leather but choosing not to wear fur is not hypocritical, you have to pick and choose your battles as some people find it difficult to live as a vegan, in my opinion choosing not to wear fur is the obvious option.

    • Mattie Kahn

      Even as a person whose winter coat is trimmed in (detachable) fur, I still see an element of, I don’t know, maybe hubris? In wearing full-length fur? Somehow, it lacks humility in a way that eating meat doesn’t.

      • MinnieP

        Yes Mattie. Eating meat seems to have more credibility and a somewhat ‘innocence’ to it that the act of wearing fur lacks. Maybe it’s because we don’t parade around in meat (excuse the Gaga image) like we would in fur to reaffirm a desperate facade of wealth and glamour.

        • MinnieP

          or maybe it’s because Cruella Deville already ruined the reputations of fur-wearers for decades to come…

  • O

    I wear leather because it’s long lasting – so naturally I would wear real fur because it’s long lasting. As long as the animal hasn’t been mistreated. Just because we’re able to feel guilt, that shouldn’t supercede our survival. Faux materials are not environmentally friendly, and they do not last. I want to have clothes, bags, hats and shoes that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren could use. I’m an ex-vegetarian, and I wore leather as a vegetarian. Still waiting for a Margot coat though!

    • O

      However, if it already exists, then surely it’s better to use that rather than have the tragedy of the animal dying go to waste? I’d say ‘honour its death’ but that’s a bit Garret Jacob Hobbs.

      • M

        I know there are some shelters that take old fur clothing to keep their animals warm during the winter and cold times. I am sure they need it more that people do. We humans have other types of clothing that keep us warm in the winter and that way we are also not promoting the fur fashion when we walk on the streets wearing it.

        • Guest

          That!! Is So!! Groovy!! I love this idea a LOT. The one thing that hurt me, fur-wise, was knowing how much real fur that they used in Game of Thrones. I’m sure we can find fur that’s vintage, and wear that. I think that would be better.

  • Michelle

    I think that saying fur is OK because you eat meat anyways is just a lame excuse to be hypocritical and try to feel good about it. Anyone is entitled to be agains fur, even if they eat meat. In my opinion they are both bad, but if someone has at least given up on one of them, or would never even think of contributing to one is better than just buying fur because ‘hey you already eta meat anyways…’
    Both the meat and the fur industry are horrible industries that treat animals in the worst ways you can NEVER imagine. How the morbid, terrifying and macabre fur process starts, is with a trap for example, if we are talking about foxes, wolfes, wild racoons. They leave them in the wild and the animals are trapped for days, even trying to chew off their limbs in order to escape (and they don’t even know whats coming next).
    If they have been raised in a fur factory, it’s even worse… They have never had a normal free life. One that they are entitled to, but even the chance of one has been taken away. they are born into a tiny cage, where they live until they are big enough to be skinned. They rot away in a cage, beat up, starved and then one they they get electrocuted, enough to feel the horrible pain, but not enough not to feel the worse one coming up. Then they are skinned alive, crying for their lives, and for the pain to stop only to be tossed in a pile along with hundreds or thousands of others in the same situation. Sometimes they live up to three days in that pile, suffering a slow unbelievable cruel and painful death.
    Personally, I stopped eating meat 5 years ago. I did it because I love animals, and I believe that human money should not buy anybody’s life.
    Before I made that change in my life though, I still was against fur. All kinds, even the seals (baby and adult) that get clubbed and nailed for their skin. All I had to do to make up my mind about fur, is think how awful it would be for me to be in their shoes. How unbelievable cruel it would be if that was a human. I mean, yes I felt a bit hypocritical eating meat and speaking against fur, but it sure wasn’t enough of a reason for anyone to discredit my speaking against the industry and anyone who supports it. The fact that the fur industry treats animals in a horrific way and it should be illegal doesn’t stop being a fact just because I eat meat too. The fact that someone voices their opinion against anyone who wears and promotes fur doesn’t stop being any less true, if that person hasn’t made the same choice with their food habits.
    Contributing to the fur industry is wrong in any way you see it, and wanting to say otherwise because of anything else is just burying your head in the sand and just trying to hold on to anything to discredit that because you probably actually feel bad about it and don’t want to look at yourself in the mirror and not like what you see.

  • Jenny Wang

    Perhaps Americans are disgusted by fur because we are used to having a high level of separation from the animal products that we buy. Meat comes so perfectly sliced and packaged at the supermarket, that many people don’t even think about the animal that was killed for it. Leather is so smooth and processed/chemically treated that likewise, it doesn’t really register as an animal. Fur, on the other hand, is in-your-face with the fact that it was once an animal.

    I don’t think that’s a reason to hate it above all other animal products, however. Just because it is more visible does not mean that it is a thousand times worse than the meat many of us eat every day. It just means that it taps into our guilty responses much more. Instead of condemning fur, we should use its example as a reminder that the meat we eat, and the leather clothes and shoes we buy were once animals too. In doing so perhaps we can try to consume less (resisting that last pair of shoes), and reducing the amount of meat we eat.

    That being said, I don’t think that fur is a negative thing when the animals are treated humanely (though that is oftentimes not the case). Aside from the fact that it would be hypocritical to condemn fur and then eat pork chops for dinner, a well-maintained fur coat can last decades. I have heard that the average American purchases an item of clothing every week. That is more than 100 in 2 years, and is only the average (I shudder to think what the high end is). The amount of pollution created by this level of consumption is staggering; the recent factory collapse in Bangladesh should serve as a reminder that the American appetite for cheap clothing takes a human toll as well. If an individual buys a fur coat that she really likes and cuts down on the amount of other clothing purchased throughout the year, perhaps the net benefit to both the environment and other humans can be positive.

  • gr montero

    …as a vintage enthusiast, wearer and seller of pre- owned fur both real and faux…thinking that if it is your thing…if it was your great gram’s….if it came from a previous lover…if it makes you happy…then wear the fur with your head held high and some killer shoes…on the other hand if for ethical, moral, or just plain old its not your style kind of reasons…then opt for the jean jacket…the london fog…the biggest wooliest sweater…in any case…do make the efforts to shop second hand first…and to not be so quick to judge someone else’s choices in winter warmth…every coat has a story afterall!!!

  • Alice

    There is a kind of fur that no one wants to wear… The kind that grows on your legs. We’re a shaving company called Dorco and our quality razors cost up to 70% less than leading brands. Don’t let the big guys rip you off anymore. Read what others have to say about the quality of our shaving products at DorcoUSA.com. You’ll realize you’re most likely the victim of an incredible markup. Thanks for hearing us out. A great discussion about a great post!

  • Patricia

    It would be much more useful for the nature and the environment if people cared about recycling their trash instead of condemning who’s wearing fur mittens. The hypocritical cliche is not about the animals or the way they die, it’s about a good chance to be judgmental.

  • http://rorschachcoffee.typepad.com/ Paulette

    I am an animal lover, but I wear vintage fur. I would never purchase new fur, because of inhumane practices. I think fur is incredibly elegant and beautiful, and there is nothing warmer. The animals that gave their fur so many years ago would be long gone by now. It would be a waste to destroy those pelts. I also eat meat and wear leather, but I do try to choose free-range and humanely cared for livestock sources. My Native American ancestors believed in using everything from an animal if you did have to kill it, and to honor its spirit by not wasting anything. I do believe that we can still do that today.

  • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

    There is a big difference between slaughter (meat and leather) and brutal torture/slow excruciating death (fur).

    At the time of the Kim K “fur hag” flour dusting event, PETA disclosed that the activist involved had watched the following undercover video depicting Raccoon dogs being bludgeoned with clubs, skinned alive while struggling and fully conscious, then thrown in a heap, with only raw, bloody flesh left, still alive, still conscious, still blinking their big beautiful brown eyes, to die a slow and agonizingly brutal death.

    http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/fur/chinese-fur-industry/

    At the time I watched this video I had several brand new gorgeous fur trimmed coats in my closet I hadn’t even had the chance to wear. After the video I couldn’t even look at them and they have never been worn. I knew fur was bad but didn’t know *how* bad. Had always thought a little fur trim – no big deal..it should be ok. Horrified by my own ignorance.

    Will never touch fur again and am utterly repulsed by anyone who wears it.

    • Mattie Kahn

      Totally hear where you’re coming from, and you’re inspiring me to be more educated about my own choices. If the fur trade were better regulated, would wearing it become less of an ethical issue? Or, is the fact that it essentially accessorizes, while meat feeds a fundamental difference between the two forms of consumption?

      • sarah

        to me its a bit like removing the fins from a shark and throwing it back in the water to drown, for the sake of a bowl of soup. if we were to consume/use the entire animal that had been killed under humane circumstances, the trade of fur may be more understandable. but the fur trade typifies everything that is wrong with luxury brands worldwide, as if the wealthy are the only creatures of importance on the planet. there are alternatives for a cold climate. that they are the only source of warmth is a ridiculous argument.

      • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

        For me it will always come down to the suffering aspect. There is no excuse for supporting this kind of brutality against the innocent. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and horror of being beaten and skinned alive.

        I also think at this point, with all the awareness that has been spread about the severe cruelty, the undercover videos of extreme torture, it is impossible to wear fur without looking like the self absorbed a-hole who doesn’t care about animals. I think it’s one of those things that has irrevocably changed, it’s not like the 80′s anymore when nobody blinked an eye over the floor length fur coats. Now it makes a person seem disgusting, detached, and lacking in basic human compassion.

        As far as meat goes, unfortunately I believe it’s required by many for survival. I was a vegetarian for 15 yrs b/c I’ve always hated the taste and texture of meat, however I had absolutely no energy and finally my family convinced me to eat meat again.I don’t purchase any factory farmed products, everything comes from local organic farmers whom we know, and the animals are allowed to roam and live natural lives. If you’re interested in ethical farming, check out Joel Salatin,he owns Polyface farms,has been featured in a number of movies including ‘Food, Inc’ has written excellent books on the subject and is an all around super cool guy.

        You’ve got an awesome mom, btw:-)

    • Guest

      For me it will always come down to the suffering aspect. There is no excuse for supporting this kind of brutality against the innocent. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and horror of being beaten and skinned alive.

      I also think at this point, with all the awareness that has been spread about the severe cruelty, the undercover videos of extreme torture, it is impossible to wear fur without looking like the self absorbed a-hole who doesn’t care about animals. I think it’s one of those things that has irrevocably changed, it’s not like the 80′s anymore when nobody blinked an eye over the floor length fur coats. Now it makes a person seem disgusting, detached, and lacking in basic human compassion.

      As far as meat goes, unfortunately I believe it’s required by many for survival. I was a vegetarian for 15 yrs b/c I’ve always hated the taste and texture of meat, however I had absolutely no energy and finally my family convinced me to eat meat again.I don’t purchase any factory farmed products, everything comes from local organic farmers whom we know, and the animals are allowed to roam and live natural lives. If you’re interested in ethical farming, check out Joel Salatin,he owns Polyface farms,has been featured in a number of movies including ‘Food, Inc’ has written excellent books on the subject and is an all around super cool guy.

      You’ve got an awesome mom, btw:-)

  • http://nusardel.com/ Nusardel

    The difference between eating a dead animal and wearing one is that the latter is almost like having the blood on your hands, and that makes people uncomfortable.

    It’s so hard to justify not having an issue with fur because if I tell someone, “I’m a vegetarian, but I don’t have a problem with fur or leather or snakeskin,” they assume vegetarianism is my way of washing the blood from my hands, when it’s not.

    I don’t think anyone should have to justify wearing anything, nor should they be condemned by others for it (hence why I dislike PETA activists). Really, people are going to do what they want to do and the best anyone who disagrees can do is to express their opinion respectfully, do their bit to help by taking their own advice, and leave it at that.
    (Also, this entire debate always reminds me of this French and Saunders sketch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4mhsAJY11M)

  • Aubrey Green

    I agree with you Mattie and I too am really torn, always. I love fur, the way it feels and looks, I don’t own any, but EVERY time I see it in the store and try it on, I just can’t buy it, even if it is fake. I eat meat once, maybe twice a week, I do own real leather. I’m not sure what my issue is with not buying the fur, it’s honestly really silly at this point though. To each their own and like one person said if you’re going to judge people for buying fur, then you also shouldn’t eat meat, buy leather, etc…

    • ellej

      I think it’s pretty widely accepted though that wearing leather and eating meat are sort of the lesser of the evils. Yes, it’s still using animals for our own self-centred reasons, but at least it is obtained by a significantly less cruel means than fur (ie when the animal is no longer alive).

  • Oliver Lips

    The thing I don’t get with fur is why it has to be so brutal? Tearing off the animals skin while it’s still alive? How on earth could you afterwards justify wearing fur..

  • Kandeel

    The occasional nonexotic fur is okay but i wouldnt want to smother myself in furs.Also faux is really looking nice these days so i dig that. :)

  • Katya

    I ditto a previous commenter in that I find fur incredibly glamorous and beautiful. And yet, I never buy it, nor any unnecessary leather garments, like those leather leggings I love.. *sight* I am not a vegetarian, and I do own leather boots. It’s difficult to avoid animal products entirely for me since I can’t deny my craving for meat, and I’ve yet to find stylish vegan boots… But I can’t justify buying fur knowing the conditions these animals live in. Most of the fur comes from factory farms, many of them in China, in deplorable conditions.. And the high-quality leather doesn’t come from cows killed for food. Some of it is actually from calfs, whose mothers are killed and the unborn calfs are then removed… apparently that’s where that soft, buttery leather comes from. Then there’s angora fur, most of which comes from china, where the fur is torn from the rabbits skin, while they scream.. literally scream, there are videos of this online… Anyway, it’s one thing to eat meat and have a leather bag or two. But buying floor length fur coat, or having 2 or 3 leather jackets = just not for me. Others can do it, but I must admit I do judge those people, and really don’t feel bad for them when their coat is ruined by flour spatter from a PETA fan. The animal that fur came from suffered through much worse.

  • Hi

    This is an interesting post. I live in Alaska and it isn’t even really an argument up here. Fur is one of the warmest things you can wear. While long coats do seem glamorous, you usually see people pulling them out when its below zero. However, most people do kill the animals themselves for the fur and meat for subsistence living. Even the furriers almost exclusively buy Alaskan furs so you know it was another Alaskan making a living by hunting and trapping. A full circle if you will.
    We also have a festival here called Fur Rondy and everyone comes out in their best fur hats and coats – it is celebrated in a way as a nod to old, self sufficient lifestyles which are still a very big part of this state. Living off the land while respecting the animals and landscape around you are very valuable life skills to have – in that way it is hard to look down on fur wearers. On the flip side, I understand it is different for a lot of people who buy the mass produced items in stores having no idea where the fur or leather came from or what kind of life the animals had.
    Like religion and politics, it will always be a touchy subject I’m sure. Just thought I’d put my 2 cents in from AK.

  • http://adeliberateimagination.wordpress.com/ CDJ

    Omg I have major Fomo on this post I got so behind on it! I don’t think a person who
    wears fur is evil and I don’t think a person who doesn’t wear it is a saint. I think
    it is a personal choice and would never judge anyone either way. I do love fur but also feel uneasy when I see it sometimes. That being said, I would never turn away from a beautiful fur piece if given to me! but I just had a thought if dog fur coats ever became popular and I almost threw up.

    Perhaps the solution is to take a page from phoebe when she was craving meat while pregnant she just made sure Joey didn’t eat meat to balance it out. SOOO let’s all pick a partner here. One fur wearer and one non fur wearer- team up and hang out. Call me!

  • http://www.dreaminlace.com/ DreamInLace

    I’m a vegetarian who adamantly opposes fur. However – I do find the notion that someone would flatly refuse to wear fur, yet will eat loads of slaughtered chickens, cows, etc. that aren’t kindly kept either…is completely ridiculous and hypocritical. This fall, it was either Elle or Harper’s Bazaar who ran an article on this. How the number of animals whose lives are lost for food is SIGNIFICANTLY higher than those who lose their lives for fur.

    (Not to mention – no one seems to bat an eye at the leather industry. Which as well perpetuates animal cruelty.)

    All in all, I think wearing fur is a personal decision. I don’t believe in fur, nor do I believe in eating animals. But that’s me. If someone wants to wear a fur coat you won’t find me throwing paint on them. I think instead of fighting the idea of ‘fur’ in general, we should just work together to bring more humane treatment to the animals of all these industries. And when it comes to making a stance on ‘to fur or not to fur’, really educate yourself before you judge someone for it.

    xoxo
    Kelly
    http://www.dreaminlace.com

  • Cityflower

    I have 2 vintage furs. The main reason I wear them is warmth. I also have coats made from synthetics and NO, it’s not the same. Not even close. Just as we no longer need to wear animal skins to survive severe climates, we no longer need to consume meat to survive either. If you have a deficiency, you can easily take a pill or turn to plant based source for your nutrition. Also, I am not sure if you non-leather wearing staunch vegans have checked out the animal by-product list on PETA. My fur coat isn’t necessary. Neither is the lotion/shampoo/moisturizer you are using. If you want to pick and choose your animal sources fine but don’t attack people who didn’t make identical choices.

    Also, wearing leather but not wearing fur does not make you righteous. The by-product excuse is null since I’ve yet to hear of a case of someone dying from NOT eating filet mignon and burgers.

  • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

    I completely respect, understand, and have praise for those who have eradicated meat from their lives. HOWEVER, I hardly think functions of the food chain can be at all compared to fur wearing. Sure, for some there may be a morality a quotient in a person’s decision not to eat meat, but to say that it is contradictory to eat meat, but not support fur is highly ridiculous to me. Yes, killing is killing and there is not way to make it less unfortunate, but there’s more of a fairness in it (I think) than killing for fur. It’s a matter of purposed resources, basic nutrition, etc. There are supplements and this that and the other thing, but meat can often deliver the elements needed in the most efficient way. The basic food chain, however, should not be abused and we should be mindful about our consumption.
    Wearing a fur coat on the other hand doesn’t have anything to do with health or nutrition or the like. Fur is really an aesthetic preference and, unless you’re a member of one of the few, indigenous hunter-gatherer tribes in the world whose combination of limited available resources , climate and lack of technological advancement is a defining factor, then there’s really no reason to wear it. Yes, sure, your body your moral code so do what you want. BUT at the same time, we have to look at how our aesthetic preferences could possibly be harming the very ecosystems in which we live, albeit it somewhat destructively and detached.

    • Angela

      Emma,
      Not to dissuade you from you current diet, but I just wanted to recommend a site you may find interesting.
      ❤ FullyRaw You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/fullyrawkristina
      She just today did a vid on protein from non animal sources. The only reason I am sending it your way is because she is also a long distance runner.
      Angela

  • http://www.creamstop.com/ Mademoiselle C.

    I’ve only every bought fur once. And it was vintage so I told myself, I wasn’t killing anything. But in fact I did still feel guilty. Not enough to not wear it though.

    I personally don’t see the difference between buying fur and eating meat/wearing leather. I am sure there are those out there that know more about this. Care to share?

    Mademoiselle C. xx
    http://www.creamstop.com

  • Stefanie

    Personally, I hope that someday in the near future, everyone will be wearing vegan leather and faux fur, and this won’t even be an issue anymore. I’ve even made a blog about it: http://www.evolstyle.me

    vegan fashion ftw!

  • http://mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr/ Mafalda

    I find fur beautiful, but I would never wear it, I have too much respect for animals…

    Mafalda ❤
    http://www.mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr

  • Charlotte Mainprize

    I bought a beautiful vintage fur coat last year (channelling Margot Tenembaum), but have been to conflicted to wear it for exactly the reasons you mention. I have to say that I think it’s a cop-out to think that buying second-hand fur is somehow justified in a way that buying new isn’t. What stage of the chain of ownership you happen to fall at has zero relevance – you either endorse the piece’s existence, or you don’t.

    • Charlotte Mainprize

      (I should note that I haven’t actually worn the coat yet because non-endorsement is winning out for me..)

      • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

        So true..it’s impossible to wear fur and look like a decent human being at the same time. It just can’t be done anymore. Consciousness as a whole seems to be shifting.

  • Fisayo Longe

    I find it completely ridiculous that someone would wear vintage fur but not new fur. You’re basically just indulging in something you like in a way that makes you feel more comfort and less guilt which is the height of self-righteousness. You like fur, you wear it. Whether it is vintage or new is completely irrelevant. If you’re wearing your vintage fur and I see it on you and think it looks great, it would encourage me to go out and buy new fur. As many people have said, the issue is those who condemn others when they do not completely eschew the wearing of fur, leather and eating meat.

    The idea of killing the animals makes me cringe and feel a little guilty sometimes but it has never been a deterrent. I’m comfortable with eating meat, wearing leather and wearing fur. Let nobody condemn me except the person who does none of these. Even then, don’t splash paint on me and try to be holier than thou. Speak to me like a decent human being and explain why what I am doing is evil- maybe that will make me realize that I’m wrong and change my ways. But in all truthfulness, I would never stop eating meat or wearing leather. I can do without fur. Just like the people who indulge in these but condemn fur- they can do without it so really, it’s not that much about morality as it is about self-righteousness.

  • Julie

    I’m vegan and wouldn’t wear fur but I have friends that do. I don’t judge them for wearing it, it’s their choice.

    Another reason people might be more anti-fur is because you can directly visualize the animals skin(fur) whereas leather is processed, dyed and not recognized as a cow.

    The only thing we could ask of each other is to do things in moderation and not cause too much damage along the way.

    • Arden

      How can you not judge them?

  • looksharpsconnie

    Love fur, feel weird wearing it. Same deal over here.

    I think it’s the same reason artists aren’t looked at as shallow, but “fashionistas” are. There’s something about fashion as an end that makes our society condemn all means of getting there. EATING an animal is much “different” than WEARING it, just as MAKING a work of art is much more intellectual than WEARING one.

  • Brie

    i’ll wear real or faux fur, doesn’t matter. real or faux leather, doesn’t matter. if i like it and i know i will wear it i buy it. i don’t revel in the fact that this beautiful tan-ish coat is real rabbit fur, i revel in the fact that it keeps me warm and i feel elegant while wearing it. the coat i wore for new years was a top-of-the-thigh long black faux fur coat and i felt elegant wearing it, too.

    • Arden

      You seem to have neither compassion, nor intellect.

  • Anne-Marie Earl

    From an editor who LOVES this blog: Try to use adverbs sparingly. (See what I did there?)

  • Guest

    I wish people where as obsessed with treating their fellow humans properly as they were with the moral quandary regarding fur and meat. If a person chooses to eat meat and wear leather, but lives with integrity and works to help his fellow man and contribute to society, can that be seen as a careless evil person? When anti-fur folks use anger, aggression, insults and basically assault to get their point across, I ofter wonder if they are valuing animal life over respect for themselves and others? Does that behavior justify the self righteous stance that some take? I am amazed at how judgmental people are about these kinds of choices. I prefer to eat mostly veggies but I don’t look at meat eaters as hateful people. I have a vintage fur collar given to me when her aunt passed away. It’s super warm and beautiful…is that evil or recycling? Who’s to tell these days?

  • Katiquette

    Real fur = murder, faux fur= beautiful. Imitate, don’t steal!

    Love,

    K

    katiquettestyle.blogspot.com

    katiquettestyle.blogspot.com

  • Emily

    It’s great that there is a post on this because it’s something I have been on the fence about for as long as I’ve paid attention to fashion. I believe that some practices in the fur/leather and meat trades are horrible, and personally I don’t feel the need to own real fur with all the great faux options there are. However I do appreciate real leather and eat meat…
    I also think there is a double standard when it comes to judgement of fur garments, and I’ve always wondered if it’s because of the status attached to owning them. One could justify eating meat for nutritional necessity, whereas animal fur specifically is often used to enhance a garment, as an accessory, and as a luxury in general. People technically don’t need fur on or as clothing for survival in most cases, so perhaps that’s why owning fur is viewed as more “offensive” than eating meat.

  • http://seldommodish.blogspot.co.uk/ Meg

    ‘revulsion is so much more instantaneous when it comes to fur’ because not only are animals killed on TOP of the animals killed for their meat- the demand for fox & mink meat isn’t too high believe it or not- they are killed in disgusting ways. I’ll spare you the gory details and although the animals killed for meat are also killed in horrendous ways, they way they’re killed for their fur is often much more painful- they can’t simply slit their throat because that would spoil the fur. Also, fur in China (the most talked about country when it comes to animal abuse) often comes from obscure animal-origin… a lot of the fur comes from cats and dogs! I don’t imagine anyone would buy a dog coat or cat-lined hat so why should you wear any other animal?!

    In this day and age, where we have central heating, thermal underwear and a vast amount of artificial ‘faux’ alternatives, we simply do not need to wear real fur. Yes it’s considered ‘luxurious’ but you can look luxurious in plenty of other things…things that didn’t cost an innocent animals life.

    I understand that fur coats and stoles etc can look beautiful when worn or hanging on the rails in shops but just remember, it looks even more beautiful on the animal whose back it belongs on.

    I also don’t agree with the leather trade but I won’t get started on that.

    Before anyone calls me a hypocrite I don’t eat animal products, use anything tested on animals or wear leather!!

  • Tiphaine

    What makes me feel bad about fur/meat/leather is not necessarily the killing in itself but the way our society considers and treats animals overall. We literally breed them to sustain our own “needs” in conditions that are not respectful at all, and I’m pretty sure one day we’ll look at this the way we now look at how our ancestors treated slaves. Animals lead a horrible life that shouldn’t even be called a life, not allowed to move because the meat won’t be as tender if they do (and that’s just one example) and then get killed in awful conditions.

    But then I also think that nowadays it’s not that easy yet to be a vegan, and I guess you can’t decide to stop everything from one day to another.. I am in the process and hope to get completely vegan one day, but I am conscious it will not happen overnight! I also hope that more and more people like Stella McCartney will stand up for animals in the world of fashion because I think it’s still too rare!

  • Blair

    I do not believe in wearing fur. I ethically and morally couldn’t after knowing where it has come from and the conditions animals raised for fur have been in. It is unnecessary in this day and age when there are so many man-made substitutes for fur that look and feel the same but can be worn with a clear conscience. I admire designers like Stella McCartney who don’t use leather, fur or other animal products in their collections and are still able to sell a good product, be popular among the mass market and compete with the bigger names that resort to using cruel and outdated materials such as fur. It is sad that fur has come back ‘in’ and people buy into this fashion without thinking about where it comes from. For the record, I am a staunch vegetarian :)

  • Leanne

    I concur with many people here; I am vegetarian and I avoid leather products where possible, but it is a struggle to buy shoes made from alternative products that give quality and value. I buy leather shoes and try not to think about it. I have never and would never buy fur but I have bought vintage leather bags/shoes/pants because somehow I feel less guilty about something that was killed many years ago than more recently. I do feel there is a difference between domesticated animals being kept for meat and skins because more often than not their carcasses are used up for a multitude of other products from glue to crayons and thus, there appears to less waste (we know of) compared to that of wild animals reared in horrendous conditions for fur that now has excellent faux replicas and versions. PU for example has plastic in it and we all know of the chemicals involved but so does the tanning process, even with non-animal products there is the human cost as most of us ignore where our clothes are made, by whom, and under what conditions so, where does it end?

  • S

    I think that raising an animal for the purpose of our own vanity is immoral. HOWEVER, I don’t think it’s terrible for humans to slaughter cows for leather and beef because we are utilizing all parts of the cow, slaughtering them for beef is inevitable, it will go on until there is no longer a demand for them. But if we are to slaughter them for their beef then we should utilize all of their parts so as they do not go to waste. But killing a mink or a ferret for luxury items is just morally reprehensible.

    • Arden

      In our era, eating meat or utilizing animals for any kind of product is luxury. Mankind could live without it.

  • Arden

    It is irrelevant what other people do, if they oppose fur but eat meat or wear leather, if some are hypocrites, idealists, moralists or whatever you may call them.

    The manufacturing of fur is despicable, brutal and a shame for humanity. Wearing fur is incontrovertibly morally wrong.

    People point fingers to others, trying to defend themselves with the faults others make just as written in these comments here. Don`t do that. Think about ethics. Think about suffering, agony. About meat. Leather. Fur.
    Then think about yourself.

  • Eva Kuzyk

    I think people don’t accept fur because it’s such a obvious reminder of how terrible humans are, while leather and meat aren’t so closely linked to what our society has done because there is no visual reminder.

  • Laura Mitchell

    BUT IT’S SO FUZZY

  • EC

    On the topic of leather, Freedom of Animals makes the best faux-leather bags on the market.

    • Mattie Kahn

      Ooohhhh, must investigate this! Thanks for the rec.

  • Steampunk_Sparrow

    I love Fur. What can I say it’s a gulity pleasure. It’s soft and feels wonderful on my skin, it’s instant Glam, it’s unique and it brightens my skin tone! I have a vintage platinum mink full length coat that I am getting “modernized” from a local furier. When it’s finished it will be perfect for my Canadian Winters. Sorry Ladies! I LOVE Animals and I LOVE Fur. I am heartbrokenly torn!

  • http://blackstripesblog.blogspot.com/ Elisabetta Silvestro

    I would say that none of the products related to the animal industry are ethical but fur is the most stigmatized because it’s the most inhuman practice between them all. The animals are skinned alive and barely unconscious if they’re lucky. At least meat, eggs and dairy are foods that you could argue we need but fur it’s just an inhuman luxury product.

  • Tunie

    Hmm…I love my best friend’s skin but wouldn’t skin her and turn it into a luxurious coat. That’s what I tell myself when I fall in love with the thought of rolling in fur. Without meaning to sound like I am on a soapbox, my feeling is that animals are not ours to “take”, they already belong to themselves, and just because we are bigger, stronger, or greedy for the feel of their fur, does not entitle us to kill them for their skin.

  • Catsincowboyhats

    I feel, like so many things, this argument should really concentrate on where the fur has come from. If the animals are firstly bred for the purpose of their fur, secondly treated ethically and are then slaughtered in a humane way then surely it is a great material to be used. Not only is it warm but is also a natural product. Wearing vintage fur is also recyling which is great. If the animals however are kept how most animals for slaughter for fur are kept, which is less than humane then people should question their own values towards wearing it. It should treated the same as any animal product.

  • Lib

    I wear fur. Where I draw my moral line is that it’s either vintage or 2nd hand. I’ve inherited a mink coat from my grandmother and I’ve purchased a few fur items at flea markets, but I see it more as recycling. I would hesitate to purchase a brand new fur item.

  • http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ Newborn Fanatic

    I love fur, real and faux! I love it as much as leather and suede! Am I a horrible person? :O

    http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com

  • http://www.erptraining9.com/ SAP Training

    Fur is basically not a requirement. It is most probably worn more as fashion statement.

    Whereas leather has become a requirement. Be it shoes and bags for use on daily basis or jackets, coats etc for fighting with chilly winds. Its true that there is no match to leather in chilly weather. And most of the vegetarians do wear leather. So don’t know what
    should be favoured.

  • ardeo

    Fur is still closely associated with status, particularly the status of the elite that can afford to pay for such luxury items. So maybe we’re able to justify slaughter for meat only because, in our minds, it satisfies our basic biological need for food and not able to slaughter fur and fashion because it instantly gives off that “status” of eliteness or of lavish spending. It’s not simply because a life is lost at the hands of humanity, but that it was lost because of frivolity.
    However, guilt over this issue seems too similar to guilt over not eating all of your dinner because your mother told you that starving children in some far off place was starving and would be happy for the food you discarded… You feeling guilty does nothing for them. You don’t do anything for their plight buy happily munching yours, you just appreciate your “have” before bemoaning their “have not”. So, by continuing our current culinary practices while scorning those donning luxurious skins, are we just “appreciating” the animals that die because we feel bad and they look pretty? Isn’t that the same as our useless guilt over a starving child at dinner?

  • Otters

    I love animals, and i am a keen cook and someone who takes an interest in fashion. I eat meat and i have no problem with leather. I also have no issue what so ever with people wearing fur. i have a beautiful mink coat and a collection of rabbit fur scarfs. The only thing that i find an issue with fur, is that it should be obtained in a fair manor. There is a huge industry in farming animals and they are killed in cruel ways while having lived in horrific circumstances. Similar to hunting, they should be strict controls on the issue however it shouldnt be a taboo. In some places such as London, they throw paint, cut it, set it on fire.. why? if that person wants to wear fur, they will. They cant change it by destroying it. Sorry i get really into this..

  • M

    If you truly care about your fellow creatures and the world we all live in together, you CAN and you SHOULD buy ethically-produced fur, meat, leather, textiles, fruits, vegetables, furniture–the list goes on.

    It means consuming less and consuming less often, it means recycling, re-purposing, and restyling–and, one hopes, relinquishing the dubious pleasure of feeling superior to others because you do this and you don’t do that.

  • Alicia Gallant

    I strongly oppose fur, leather, or any sort of animal skin, and I also don’t eat meat. I don’t look down on people who do, although I wish people would stop and think about the process that goes into creating that “beautiful” garment or accessory. I think that the only possibly “ethical” solution for a person who may like to wear fur or leather would be to buy it second-hand. That way, they are recycling – which helps the environment- and they aren’t contributing to a company that will continue to harm animals in order to create new product. There is also faux material of all sorts that can resemble these animal-made materials, but are excellent quality and environmentally and animal friendly.

  • VeganBeing

    What a wonderful article, I’m so glad you wrote it. Having a very strong interest in both fashion and animal rights I have thought alot about this topic. I my darnest to not exploit other animals (we are also animals) in any way. I don’t buy wool, leather or fur. I do have some old wool gabardine suits, but I don’t buy them now, not even used.

    Sometimes it’s hard to give up style, but I’m too well educated on the topic and I can’t go back. Similar to how bacon doesn’t smell good to me anymore – I know what our species does to them, the mutilations and hyper confinement and it ruins it for me. it’s not worth it.

    Fur is super soft warm and gorgeous, but it was stolen using extreme violence. Unlike leather, fur is more valuable if you get it off in one piece, this means they can’t slit their throats and instead end up ripping their skin off their bodies, often when they are still alive. Another way to kill them without damaging their pelts is to anally or vaginally electrocute them. Most of the furs farms are in Russia and China and have little or no animal welfare laws.

    Although I see the hypocrisy in someone who wears leather but not fur, I am happy for any effort toward a less violent relationship with other animals. Usually people who are already vegetarian, like your mom, will be the most likely to see that their behavior is out of line with their stated ethics and perhaps give up milk or leather. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about progressing. I believe we can all move forward together on seeing ourselves as one of many animal species. We all have interests and the desire to live. I see humans moving into a more egalitarian relationship with animals.

  • Laura

    Your absolutely right – there is no ethical way to sport neither of them. How is it even possible to discuss, if killing a creature (taking this creatures one and only life) for a new accessory? Thats just mind boggling. And what about the need for it – surprise surprise, but we actually have even more warmer coats and hats made of fabrics not originating from animals. For example take a look at the clothing of scientists working in Antarctica! Neither do we need to wear real leather shoes or handbags anymore – there are also already perfectly good quality materials to substitute real leather. So you just need to get out of your comfort zone, do some research and get over vanity that is based on ignorance and therefore brings most horrible and gruesome deaths to other sentient beings. Fashion really shouldnt be about that – it should be just fun for all of us on this planet!