Friday, January 10, 2014

About that hideous Prada fur coat and screwing the pooch

Anna Wintour at the premiere of Girls - was there ever a more unflattering coat?

It's winter and it's very cold in New York - that means it's virtually impossible to find a picture of the chief of our industry, Anna Wintour, without some giant fur collar or coat. The started a discussion about the ethics of fur yesterday, and has so far gathered a hundred comments of people with wildly varying opinions. All quite worthwhile comments though and very civilized without anyone calling the other a dumb-ass for example. This is where PETA screwed the pooch royally - throwing dead animals at Anna has made her stubbornly defiant, and it seems the bigger her fur, the more defiant her eyes. Let's face it, no one in their right mind needs to own 15 furs, even when they live in Siberia. But Anna may very well have 50 - try googling 'anna wintour fur' and there are endless pictures. A few days ago she showed up at the premiere for the new season of Girls in a beyond hideous white Prada coat with a woman's face painstakingly painted on the fur. I can't for the life of me believe she actually likes that coat - but it is a rather spectacular in-your-face to PETA.

Many years ago when we were college students, my friend Peggy and I were strolling along Fifth Avenue on the east side of the street across from Henri Bendel, when a PETA stand caught our eyes on the south corner of the block. The activists were showing horrific pictures of animals being skinned alive. Before we could say or do anything one of the activists demanded 20 Dollars from each of us. We were startled and looked at her in wonder. She said that if we didn't want to put our money where our mouths were, we meant nothing to her, and we shouldn't even look at the pictures. That incident has always stayed with me - although I am on their side in principle when it comes to fur, I find their methods ridiculous, and very much at odds with the consensus based principles of debate I have grown up with.

Some fur coats look beautiful to me, but I feel guilty about wearing them - even though I wear leather and eat meat without any worry whatsoever. I have never heard a truly convincing argument against fur, for me it's simply personal guilt about wearing the result of an animal being skinned alive. The thought of such methods is horrifying to me, and I don't want any animal to suffer such sickening treatment for my vanity. However, in the end how morally different is it from killing an animal at will to eat it or to turn its skin into a leather bag? The devil's advocate in me wonders whether fur is just leather with the hair still attached??? (I am really asking, I don't know)

In my country, The Netherlands, legislation to ban mink fur farming entirely in 2024 was signed in 2012. There are already laws against farming fox and chinchilla fur. It won't matter much to the industry, but it is rather a shame that Anna may at some point be forced to buy fur from China instead of responsible countries like Holland. I am in no doubt whatsoever that the Dutch animals are treated far better than in China and I often wonder why more animal rights groups don't focus on teaching people where to buy fur from animals that were killed humanely before being skinned. The status quo is that lots of people love to wear fur, and a big improvement for the animals would be to die without prolonged terrible pain. Small steps I agree, but an improvement in the animals' quality of life should be the most urgent concern. Yes of course, the biggest improvement for the animals would be to stay alive - but I think it's a fair and reasonable observation in spite of my country's legislation that thanks to their uncompromising stance, PETA has massively failed on that front.

Anna and her many furs

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