Several million years ago, when the primitive people lived, primordial humans killed animals to survive and warm with the help of their skins. Then, it was justified by a wild way of life and severe climate in which they could have died. In today’s world, the use of leather and the fur production cause a negative reaction among environmentalists.
Wild Animal Fur Should Not Be Valued
In many aspects, they are right. The huge demand for natural beautiful fur leads to disappearance of many species of animals. That is why artificial fur is increasingly gaining popularity. Moreover, the production of fur clothing contributes to extensive poaching as rare and endangered species of animals are killed because of their skins and fur for sale and profit. In addition, animals are slain with special cruelty. Tragically, some of the animals are killed with the use of poisons and electricity in order not to damage the fur. It is also absolutely immoral to practice stripping of skins from live animals. Buying fur products, people often do not think about torments of animals shedding their blood for the sake of fashion. Despite the high value of animal fur as a symbol of beauty, warmness, and wealth, it should not be valued as its use reduces the wild animal species and contributes to the cruelty and violence toward the latter.
History of Fur Use
Fur is perhaps the oldest clothes in the history of mankind. Animal skins were worn by primitive people living on the European continent thousands years ago. In Ancient Greece and Rome, fur had no popularity. On the territory of these countries, it first came into use only after the conquest of Europe by the barbarians. In the Middle Ages, fur was worn only by the nobles and the rich people. The most expensive was minever and marten. The start of common fur fashion was in the 16th century. It was the time of trade, which made fur one of the most precious materials, along with spices and gold. However, it was worn by men only. In the 19th century, fur became an indicator not only of social status but also of age. It was meticulously chosen and worn on special occasions only.
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In the 20th century, fur became the object of interest in design. In the early 1900s, Jeanne Paquin and Paul Poiret began to include fur outer clothing in their collection. Fur boom was caused by the development of production of the first car. In these machines, the top was open, and warm clothing was necessary for the movement. The popularity of fur did not disappear until the Great Depression.
Movement against Fur
In 1980, the first organization in the history of mankind was founded to fight for the rights of animals in the United States (All about PETA). It was called People for Ethical Treatment to Animals (PETA). Since its inception, PETA has been famous by its loud advertising campaign with nude stars and models under the slogan that it was better to go naked than wear fur. In 1980s, fur felt into disgrace, which had an enormous scale: the rejection of animal cruelty was promoted on television, radio, and in lectures at universities, books and films (All about PETA). More famous people were getting connected to the anti-fur movement. This situation significantly boosted the production of artificial fur. It began to reach the popularity level of natural fur. This trend against the human desire and for the conscious consumption, promoting the infliction of the least possible damage to nature, is continuing today.
Arguments against the Use of Natural Fur
One of the main reasons not to wear fur is animal suffering. Any animal is exposed to severe conditions and dreadful death. Buying products that are made of natural fur and leather contributes to the brutal killing of other animals that have the same right to life as people. In most areas of the planet, one can easily live without fur coats. There are many other warm materials, down clothing, woven or knitted woolen clothing. Leather jackets and coats are heavy and bad-smelling.
Today, millions of animals are killed for their skins (Linzey, 2002). There is an ethical issue of using astrakhan and cramps. This is a generally abhorrent practice to interrupt the pregnancy of animals, and both the mother and the baby are killed in order to get baby’s fur that has not been completely formed. On fur farms, such animals as sables, foxes, raccoons, and even bobcats are grown. Their stay is associated with large implications to health. The cells are close; animals are deprived of the opportunity to exercise their instincts; and many go crazy from stress, pain, and disgusting food, beginning to chew their limbs (Linzey, 2002). Animals in captivity are characterized by particular neurotic behavior, including the throwing from side to side, circling, and self-mutilation (Broom & Nimon, 2001, p.241).
The animals are constantly beating on the cell walls, causing themselves physical pain. Foxes in cages often resort to cannibalism. Broom and Nimon (2001) found that foxes in fur farms were characterized by a high level of fear and suffered from problems with reproduction functions (242). Although some animals die from diseases, stress, and self-mutilation, a sufficient number survives for slaughter and subsequently brings huge profits to its owners. On fur farms, there are aquatic animals that have no access to water in the conditions of the farms. Mason et.al. (2008) studied the conditions of minks at fur farms. He emphasized that these animals released the stress hormone when they were prevented from swimming (36). Moreover, there is a horrible method of obtaining astrakhan and karakulcha. Karakul is a skin of newborn lambs (2-3 days after birth). Karakulcha is a skin of prematurely ‘born’ lamb. The breeders simply cut the pregnant sheep and take lambs out of it. To receive the fur of karakul, an incision is made at the head of the live lamb, and then it is shaken out from the skin.
Apart from fur farms, a practice of placing traps is still used (Linzey, 2002). Having stuck in a trap, the animal suffers waiting for its killer (hunter). The beavers, muskrats, raccoons, opossums, skunks, foxes are the main targets for hunters. In many countries, hunters are also obliged to mark their traps with information about a specific hunter and recommend checking their traps every day, but even a short period of time will seem like an eternity for the animal due to unbearable pain. Some animals even bite off their own limbs in order to save lives. Several states in the United States and many other countries imposed ban on the traps, which are known for the cruelty. However, hunters can easily evade the ban by other no less barbaric types of traps. If a hunter finds a captured animal still alive, it is usually beaten to death. Shooting is not accepted as, in this case, the hunter would risk damaging the skin. Therefore, buying fur and leather products, people are sponsoring the killing of animals, causing heavy damage to the outside world.
Moreover, the prisoners of traps are often unintended victims: birds, porcupines, deer, cats, dogs, and other animals that become maimed or killed. It is a commonplace that animals that are listed in the list of endangered species are killed in these cruel traps. Also, there is a danger of children’s getting into the trap.
A few years ago, Canadian fishermen killed hundreds of thousands of harp seal pups in front of their mothers. Therefore, the Canadian government reduced the number of seals that were permitted to be slaughtered, decreasing the quota to 400,000 heads in 2012 (Myth and facts about Canada’s seal slaughter, n.d.). The process of slaughtering turned into an annual show, which caused a massive hype and hostility on the part of animal rights organizations and the media, trying to document the carnage. The Canadian government and the sealers try to block access to the area where the massacre is performed in order to avoid publicity. In 1987, the Canadian government was forced to pass a law that authorized the killing of seals just over two weeks. They are considered adults, even though they are so small that they are not able to swim and cannot be saved. In 2001, veterinarians who inspected the skull of seals came to the conclusion that “more than 40% of the seals were still conscious and were alive when they were skinned” (Myth and facts about Canada’s seal slaughter, n.d.).
Fur is not the only material for sewing warm clothing. Today, there are warm synthetic materials. The preparation of fur also contributes to the pollution of the environment. Many chemicals (paints based on cyanide, formaldehyde, and others) are used during the fur handling. This certainly makes it serve longer, preserving the color, lightness, softness, and luxurious curvy shape. However, it affects person not in the best way. Often, chromium, which can lead to allergies, is used for processing fur.
Another argument against fur is energy which is transferred to the owner of fur. Often, animals die slowly and suffer before death. When the animals feel fear and suffer, they release adrenaline that enters the bloodstream and is absorbed into the skin; so, the information of fear can be transmitted to a man and manifested in excessive anxiety and even neurosis.
Advantages of Artificial Fur
Today, few people doubt the fact that the fur can be easily replaceable. There are plenty of alternative technologies. If a lot of fur clothes in the wardrobe are made of artificial fur, a man can wear them with a clear conscience. The products that are made of such fur are a relatively budgetary purchase, which many people can afford. Low price is based on the fact that the use of synthetic fibers is less expensive to manufacture. Consequently, the price of artificial fur is much cheaper than of the natural one.
Today, the production of eco-fur reached a high level and is in no way inferior to the production technologies of things that are made of natural fur. Products retain the novelty for a long time, are beautiful and shiny, easy to clean, and do not require special storage conditions. Things of faux fur look great in any color and authentically like natural fur. Meanwhile, the colored natural fur loses a lot of quality, which has a negative impact on its appearance.
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Certainly, there are several disadvantages of artificial fur. It is made of acrylic and polyacrylic polymers, which contain petroleum, coal, and limestone. Certainly, faux fur has reduced frost resistance. However, today, designers and scientists are still working, trying to improve the quality of ‘ethical’ fur. Externally, natural and artificial fur is almost impossible to distinguish, but the natural one is softer and more pleasant to the touch. Nevertheless, the advantages of natural fur in comparison with the artificial one have no significance as its use has serious consequences to the environment. Therefore, it is important to provide essential reforms to change the attitude to animals. People should revalue the life of animals and the desire to wear fashionable clothes.
There are many compelling reasons to not use fur. Its wearing really cannot be justified, unless a person lives in a country with an extremely cold climate and fur is the only thing that can keep warm. The fur industry is terribly cruel causing a lot of suffering. Its purpose is to satisfy human vanity. Fur has become a symbol of luxury rather than a means to protect against the cold. People use coats and faux fur coats to keep warm. These products are also characterized by beauty and elegance. As fur clothes are made due to animals’ suffering, violence, and cruelty, it is important to recognize the harm of its production to the environment as well as change the attitude and perception of its value. The use of fur in the 21st century, the century of nanotechnology, space flights, and other breakthroughs, is considered simply illegal. People of the 21st century should seek to humanity rather than the perverted sadism. People must move away from the murder of animals as a source of luxury and find more civilized and acceptable methods.