Fur-get About It

January 17, 2003

According to the fashion experts, who, for once, yelled loudly enough that I actually heard them through the mental concrete wall I automatically put up whenever I heard the words, "And in fashion news…" this year fur is back in. Fur coats, fur stoles, fur lining, fur bikinis, fur seat covers for your SUV, fur tea cozies, and fur sinks are all in this year. This is, of course, part of the schizophrenia that the fashion industry (like any other industry) suffers. For years people in the entertainment and fashion industries have been saying, "No, no, fur is dead!" Then they realized fur really never was alive–just the animals it was attached to. Plus they discovered that if you rub a supermodel with a piece of fur she’ll stick to the wall.

I predict fur will be, for the next few years, what cigars were in the 1990’s: that guilty pleasure a few hip people indulge in even though they know it’s bad, at least until everyone else jumps on the same bandwagon. Heck, the way these things go I figure next year the clubs used to bash baby fur seals will be sold as "accessories". And besides, the fashion industry has subsisted for millenia on fur and leather. Of course with cow leather you at least eat the cow – unless you’re afraid of Mad Cow Disease, which was a direct result of sheep parts being fed to cows. This was the height of inhumanity. People can choose to eat beef or mutton or bacon, along with the accompanying risks of heart disease, trichinosis, and tapeworms. Nobody asked the cows if they wanted to eat sheep, and I strongly suspect their answer would have been, "Noooo."

But I digress. Doesn’t it seem slightly backward that animals (i.e. supermodels, species "causus homo erectus") who spend so much time plucking, waxing, and shaving their own body hair would go around wearing the hair of other animals? I won’t even try to disentangle that one. Instead let’s consider some famous people from history who wore fur:

– Henry VIII: Old Henry was such an amazingly great king that there’s never been a Henry IX. (Admittedly VIII is a pretty high number to follow an English king’s name. The French, on the other hand, at last count were up to Louis CXXXVII. The French go through kings so quickly they just call them all "Louis" for convenience.) As you know Henry VIII executed 33.3% of his wives, which doesn’t seem so bad when you consider he never went after any baby fur seals.

– Leopold von Sacher-Masoch: The man who gave us the word "masochism" enjoyed fur in addition to being beaten with whips by tall women in stiletto heels. He kept a piece of fur in his pocket all the time. If this information gives you the creeps, congratulations: you’re completely unlike most people who regularly buy fur.

– Those holier than thou women who wore their cheap fur coats to church even in Summer: Okay, not a historical person but more a type of person whom you’ve probably known at some time. There are some women who think it’s classy to wear coats made from so many different animals that they represent a virtual roadkill ecosystem. Where these women get off looking down their noses at the rest of us is beyond me. Maybe someone should tell them about Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.

Enjoy this week’s fur-free offerings.

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