Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Trend I Don't See Returning Full Force

An About.com animal rights' blogger had a recent piece about a calendar featuring photographs of conservative women in mink coats put out by the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute.

"The Institute calls the calendar "Pretty in Mink," and includes Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin and other well-known conservative women. According to the CBLPI's website, the calendar harkens back to a time when "women were a little more feminine, the men a little more charming - and the world a little less politically correct."

The pictures try to evoke the glamor of a bygone era, but personally, I don't think you need mink to do that. I'm not going to stop people from wearing fur coats if they please, because I certainly wear animal products -- specifically, suede jackets and leather sneakers. But there are a few things that seem off to me about flaunting fur.

First, wearing mink strikes me as a very old-person thing. My grandmother has some decades-old fur coats in a downstairs closet, and her mother had some, and my own mother might even have one somewhere in storage. But who invests in a fur coat nowadays when a winter coat from the Gap is as functional, and will leave you enough money to invest in a flat screen TV or pay off some of your mortgage?

I think part of it has to do with changing symbols of wealth and status in this country. A fur coat was a sign that you'd made it back in the day. Fur isn't how people -- other than pimps on TV? -- flaunt wealth today. "It" bags, fancy cars, designer duds, sparkling jewelry...that's more like it.

Secondly, fur smells musty after a while and is susceptible to picking up scents from things like food and smoke. Plus it's difficult to get stains out of and physically heavy. Have you ever tried on a fur coat? It must give those little old ladies wearing them to the supermarket quite a workout!

Third, you're literally cloaking yourself in the pelt of a dead animal. Even as a meat-eating, leather-wearer, it strikes me as a bit weird when I stop and think about it that way. I understand though that there are places where animals pelts are a key part of keeping warm in winter, or where people still hunt and make use of all parts of an animal (more worthy than just hunting for sport, in my opinion), or where fur is part of a long cultural heritage. This concerns me less than photo-shoot fur.

Lastly, I don't think real fur coats give most people a slim silhouette. They may look stylish on a runway or in photos, but they are so bulky to normally wear. Give me a slim wool trench coat instead! Washington doesn't get super cold. (That's a $250 rouge trench from Banana Republic.)

The blogger stresses that this isn't a symptom of everyone who subscribes to conservative politics, though.

"Before anyone slams all Republicans or all conservatives, keep in mind that Richard Nixon publicly praised wife Patricia Nixon's choice of a "respectable Republican cloth coat" over a fur coat in 1952, and that PETA asked animal activists in 1989 to thank Barbara Bush for refusing to wear a fur coat for her husband's inauguration. Animal issues cross party lines, and you'll find quite a few Republicans with high marks on the Humane Society Legislative Fund's Humane Scorecard.

...The decision of the CBLPI and these women to promote fur is clearly a attempt to push buttons and raise the ire of animal activists. By attaching the phrase "politically correct" to the current attitude against fur, they are flaunting their callousness and trivializing animal suffering."

Ouch, harsh. Props to her for calling out what I agree is probably just mostly a stunt to get attention. But as I've outlined earlier, I think there are plenty of other reasons why fur coats probably won't be returning as a major trend in the near future.

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