Didn’t you always love the villains the most in cartoons? They were the most enchanting; I wanted them to win more than I ever wanted them to lose. The kind of screaming mythology of the woman scorned — she always spoke to me the most. I’ve written about this before and I’ll write about it again, maybe for forever. I want them to be remembered for the possibilities they could have had. A current darling du jour I am seeing both in fashion and also in my closet would be Cruella. Is fur ever out of fashion? Is it in? I’m already bored of the question. I’m not here to play Who’s the Best PETA-Politician. I am here for the glamour. Real or fake, it’s all a grey area of mixed signals that would give Barthes a boner. Focusing with a single-minded vengeance on the fur debacle will not lead to catharsis.
I do love fur, I do – let me roll around in it listening to Kate Bush, Bloody Mary in hand. A few years ago I might have been compelled to advocate for faux only, but the reality of the matter is if it’s a good faux, a real fake, people will accuse you of wearing the “real” thing just as much as if you really were. It’s a catch-22. Ham-fisted fashion policing is a pleasure many love to wear on their sleeves as a badge of fashion awareness, like a Girl Scout pin. Hate to break it to you my friends: We are all going to hell in a handbasket for more sordid reasons than my Spice Girls furry pink bolero.
What I find most interesting (read: insufferably irritating) about anti-fur protesters is that they are so quick to jump on any girl in a furry jacket on Instagram. They’ll scream and send gore-filled videos of animals dying, but that kind of dedicated preaching isn’t similarly directed to human beings in the non-furrier trade: the women in sweatshops, the minimum wage workers at the local store. It’s easier to humanize and glorify pets and cute animals than it is to put all of us, not just the girl you hate-follow on Instagram, but yourself – that person shopping for every product ever made — in the context of global consumer decisions.
It is easier to police other girls than it is to recognize there are some things that are unstoppable. Real or fake, that desire for the signification of wealth and luxury is not going to go away. It is part of the autonomous system of fashion; it is bigger than the desire of one girl shopping at Goodwill. People are so concerned over the death toll of animals in the fur industry; I should like to see that vehemence directed at the death toll of garment workers. I should like to see people call out the fact PETA itself killed 82% of the animals in its care in 2013 and prioritizes hyper-sexualized bodies of women and fat shames (whales? really?). I would like to see a lot of things that I apparently can’t, and so I will console myself in a fur coat my grandma gave me before she died. My cat likes to sleep on it, too. It’s all very comforting.
It comes back to philosophy of cruelty, something Maggie Nelson speaks on quite well. Says Nelson: “Focusing on the question or whether or not an image retains the capacity to produce a strong emotion sidesteps the problem that having a strong emotion is not the same thing as having an understanding, and neither is the same thing as taking an action.”
You could pull my hair over my fur jacket, and I could pull your hair for eating genetically modified food and shopping at Wal-Mart that one time you visited your mom in the suburbs. We can all be petty, and we’d go absolutely nowhere. What a waste of time.
(Photo and GIF courtesy of Disney)