Fur Cripe’s Sake

Last week the topic of fur crossed my radar much more often than it usually does. It started with Aretha Franklin’s performance at the Kennedy Honors. She strolled on stage in a fur coat, pocketbook on her arm, sat at the piano, and played a rendition of “Natural Woman” that had Carole King in ecstasy and President Obama weeping.

Excuse me for being the vegan in the room, but I was terribly distracted by the Queen of Soul’s fashion choice. How many animals had died to make that coat? (If it was mink, we’re talking about 65.) How many fur coats does Aretha own? (Several, I think – this is not the first fur coat she’s brought to a performance.) Did Aretha’s tossing of her coat to the floor bring a new level of offense to the dead animals she was wearing up until that moment? (Perhaps.)

The next day, Kim Kardashian posted a photo of her daughter, North, on Instagram. She was wearing her very own fur coat. Fans praised Kim for her fashion sense, for her daughter’s adorable genes, for whatever they praise the Kardashians for.

(Confession: I never watched an episode of their reality show till last year. And when I did, the K krew didn’t bother me nearly as much as I thought they would. Perhaps I’ve been desensitized to reality television. I’ll need to sit with that for a bit.)

Hi, the vegan in the room again. Speaking of desensitization, North West doesn’t have a chance, does she? Like so many children today – and like former children (read: me and you), she’s being raised in a world that is okay with using animals. In Kardashian fashion (no pun intended), that means as a statement piece of outerwear. But how is that much different than those of us who don’t have selfie books and apps and reality television shows, who wear leather sneakers and wool sweaters?

It’s not different. And yet, vegans and non-vegans alike speak out against fur. I know this because of the third and final fur moment that closed out my 2015 – my annual viewing of Kathy Griffin making Anderson Cooper giggle nervously for several hours before the ball drops in Times Square.

I tuned in a couple of hours before the big moment – and there was Kathy, dressed in a blue fur coat. Was it real? I still don’t know. But I was overcome with déjà vu, because one year prior, Kathy was wearing a real fur coat – to honor Joan Rivers, animal activists be damned. I remember this because I took to Twitter in exasperation. And then I remembered that fur is leather is wool is animals dying for fashion choices.

I skipped the Twitter outrage this time around, but I did search the CNN hashtag to see what people were saying. Plenty of outrage without me – it ranged from questions on whether Kathy’s blue fur is real (I still don’t know) to name calling and declarations of hate. I can’t begin to determine who among these outraged tweeters was vegan and who was not. As I said, there is fur disdain on both sides. You would think that with such commiseration on the topic, fur is the one thing we could be done with, already.

It is January 4 and we’re just starting to get winter-like weather here on the East Coast (not that climate change is real or anything, don’t be silly). But I have seen enough dead animals on my television to last me the rest of this cold season.

Aretha, Kim, Kathy… you are all rich women. You have resources and choices that most of us do not. Please go watch a video about how fur coats are made – they are out there, just Google them. Then go find a compassionate alternative. They are out there, too. You can be fierce, funny, fashionable… and you can do it in faux fur.

Fanks. I mean, thanks.

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