Saturday, 22 October 2011

Vanity vs Animal Welfare

As one of fashions biggest debates is on fur and faux fur I have decided to look into it further for my research, there are so many different opinions on the subject and so many people unaware of the pros and cons. I am not saying I am an activist for either, I don't like animal being killed to wear but at the same time I eat meat. 

A great website for the facts on anti fur is I don't want to re-write all their facts and statistics but what I have found out from this site is pretty horrible. I think one of the biggest problems with fur is that people do not want not know, or can't imagine, what really happens. 

"Every year 50 million animals are reared and slaughtered in the most hellish conditions imaginable. Animals are confined to restrictive cages where they often experience psychological and physical problems. Animals are skinned alive, anally electrocuted, gassed, suffocated, poisoned, beaten or bludgeon to death. "

So why do we let it happen? The elite may be featured in faux fur campaigns, then we see them wearing fur on the runway or red carpet. What kind of example is this? Simple answer is its not, its fashion. 

PETA is the largest organisation for animal rights and their campaigns often feature shock tactics to raise awareness of the issue. The examples I have found feature four different celebrities using the famous tag lines such as "Here's the rest of your fur coat" and "I'd rather go naked than wear fur". They make a strong point and the celebrity endorsement will always be a good thing as long as they really believe in what they are saying. The 'Dear J.Lo' is a little different as it is targeting a celebrity negatively, it again works though as you are interested in what it says even if you don't particularly care about celebrity status and culture. 

Sophie Ellis Bextor
Dominique Swan
Dear J. Lo

I think as a photography student and looking at campaigns and making pictures you know how untrue an image can be by the end of it, whether it is the visual element or the construction behind it. Although these images are very straight forward I guess you can never trust the celebrity being pictured on it. Maybe thats just me being cynical?

Anyway, I started looking into faux fur and the independent writes 

"Furriers are claiming that the manufacture of polyester and nylon copies of the "real thing" involves chemicals that pollute the environment and that damage the health of factory workers who have to handle them."

Saying that real fur is natural and biodegradable and that faux fur is harmful to the environment this counter argument does have its points, yet why do faux fur coats exist in the first place? They mimic real fur and, in my opinion, promote it. There are interesting facts and points either side and it gets so confusing when you begin to consider things like vintage fur and its ethics. 

In all honesty I wear faux fur, why did I buy it? Because it was fashionable. Do I feel bad when I wear it? No, because I look good in it. I'm not considering that it looks like real fur and that in some way I am promoting the fur industry. I'm not proud that its faux and don't boast that its cruelty free. I just wear it because I like it. There is this huge question of our vanity vs these animals being killed. I believe the fur industry is wrong, I also know fur is the only source of warm clothing for some people in this world. I really feel I cannot take a huge anti animal cruelty stand when I do wear leather or eat meat, I think that would be wrong of me and the pictures I would be making would be a lie. 

For this project when I consider the term vanity vs animal welfare I don't think I can take a really strong moral standing on it. The concept I am working with, knitting faux animal, needs to be more light hearted, not so that I am making a joke. I need to find the right way to deal with this issue without making it a huge issue in the work. 

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