Hellish Cruella Glam

February 27, 2014 • Fashion


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)

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  • Kiwifruit

    I find this really interesting. I think there are really good points
    made in this piece but I can’t help but notice that a lot of people who
    are okay with fur group all anti fur people in with PETA. PETA is fucked
    up. They are fat hating misogynists and fuck them.

    I see so many people group feminists into the hairy angry ‘feminazi’ role and that seems to be the feeling on being anti-fur or an animals rights advocate.

    Let’s not get it twisted though, humans make mistakes. They
    shop places that sell sweat shop made clothes, they eat food from giant
    factory farms that abuse animals, they do problematic shit. I feel like
    if you go into life knowingly doing horrible shit, then you are pretty
    horrible. You know when things don’t change? When people refuse to think
    they can change and say things like ‘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’ then yeah, it wont go away. It
    wont change because no shits are being given. When no shits are given,
    things don’t change. The attitude of animal life not mattering wont
    change anything, the same way the attitude of sweatshops and deplorable
    conditions for garment workers just being part of life we have to accept
    with today’s economic climate. Both are bullshit. Both are callous. Both
    lack empathy.

    In the end, people are always going to do them and I think that is a kind of a bummer.

  • anonymous

    So essentially this article is like, “we are all going to do things that are bad, so why bother trying to do anything good because you can’t be entirely good.” You might eat genetically modified foods so my fur wearing is acceptable. Maybe this author hasn’t realized there are people out there who actually want to hold themselves accountable for their choices and do avoid GMOs, Walmart, and fur to the best of their ability. How ridiculous to compare shopping at Walmart to the fur trade. People from low income backgrounds, like me, who currently live in a food dessert where the closest food is from a Walmart are not even *close* to people who can AFFORD fur in the first place. How are my experiences as someone with no other options the same as some privileged person buying dead animal skin to wear?

    I’m sad that these are the counter arguments against compassionate choices, that if we can’t make them all, we shouldn’t try to make any.

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