The extent to which animals are used in fashion in the present day is staggering. Despite the wide availability of synthetic alternatives it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself in a crowded room where someone is not wearing animals – pearls, shell jewellery, down, wool, silk, leather, etc. Each of these materials are derived from cruel practises in systematically abusive industries, with some automatically more bloody than others. For example, the discarded, unrecognisable bodies of skinned leather cows are more nightmarish than the occasional seeping cut and dislocated leg of a sheep hastily shorn for wool, but there is one material which is widely regarded as the cruellest and most unnecessary of all – fur.
In semester one, someone from SVAR (Edinburgh Student Voice for Animal Rights) mentioned the brand Canada Goose with a look of disgust on her face, so naturally I proceeded to research the infamous coats. Since then, it seems I haven’t been able to go a single day without seeing someone striding self-righteously down Princes Street or shuffling around Why Not sporting half a dead coyote round their neck.
Coyotes are very like dogs in the sense they are intelligent, mischievous, playful and social, so the irony of dog lovers (Emma Stone for example) paying for their torture is inconceivable. Coyotes decapitated, skinned and used for their fur on Canada Goose jackets are wild, which some would argue is preferable to farmed animals who spend their lives in squalor and entrapment, but animals caught in the wild are subjected to a potentially prolonged, uncontrolled death where they can perish from blood loss, dehydration, hypothermia, shock, or exposure before they are found by the trappers (only to meet a violent death at the hands of a human). One can’t imagine the terror and agony these animals go through before being transformed into part of a coat.
Fur is something I personally associated with celebrities, aristocrats and Cruella de Ville, so it was disturbing to suddenly start noticing so many fellow students trotting around actively supporting one of the most violent branches of animal exploitation in existence. Even as an argumentative vegan, I can understand why people casually eat flesh in the form of turkey dinosaurs and wear hide in the form of shoes, belts and watch straps – we’re handed these things daily from infancy, and they are so seamlessly woven into our lives that it may be a decade or two before individuals start to realise how cruel and destructive they are. Fur feels like a different story altogether. There is absolutely no mistaking what is is or where it comes from, it is not casually accessible, you don’t accidentally end up consuming it, it must be sought after and pursued.
There is a vast difference between eating 90p chicken nuggets, so reshaped and disguised they do not even resemble the animal they came from, and purposely saving up for a £800 Goose, as you imagine yourself looking luxurious and superior whilst enveloped in the outer layer of a large canid. Fur is the embodiment of greed, excess and self-service. We are essentially brainwashed from childhood onwards into eating flesh, whereas no one out there, in the streets of Edinburgh, truly believes they need fur. There are no excuses: the only place fur should be seen in is on the back of the animal it came from. So, if you feel smug and fashionable as you shrug on your Canada Goose with no regard for the animal that was tortured for it to get there, you may want to re-evaluate your priorities, as well as – dare I say it? Your morals.
Image credit: John Flannery