Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Faux Fur Pioneers –– An Anti-Fur Campaign From Way Back In 1974

When will the fashion industry listen? This photo features Doris Day, Mary Tyler Moore, Angie Dickinson, Amanda Blake and Jayne Meadows wearing lovely fake fur coats, looking up at a camera with hopeful smiles on their faces. This image is from an anti-fur campaign from 1974 for The Fund For Animals, an animal welfare and animal rights group that is still active today.

On its own, the image is misleading. And for anyone who is aware of the lifelong advocacy of two of the women –– Mary Tyler Moore and Doris Day –– on behalf of animal welfare and animal rights, it's surprising and prime for speculation.

The photo (separate from its original text) has managed to find some circulation around the internet, posted by curious passersby on blogs and image sharing sites like Pinterest. As is typical, the quick and haphazard sharing of information has skewed the actual meaning of what is being shared. Which is a terrible fate for a photo like this one, which holds such a greater and entirely opposed meaning. The truth can only be known with care and discernment.

Without the text associated with the image for the full campaign that appeared in magazines and publications in 1974, it has come to hold a distressingly erroneous meaning for people. Many who've shared it thought of it as a fun bit of vintage fashion –– simply believing this is a photo of five once-and-still famous ladies wearing real fur.                   
Knowing a great deal about both Mary Tyler Moore and Doris Day and their respective lifetimes of advocacy for animals, my intention has been to share the reality of what the photo and campaign actually meant to say. These five women are decidedly NOT wearing real fur.

The heart-wrenching truth is that this level of hope, compassion, and possibility for real progress –– the ideal being to get humans to stop being so entitled, to see the suffering they've caused and to end it, finally –– has yet to be realized. Many decades later.
Doris Day, Mary Tyler Moore, and Angie Dickinson at an event for The Fund For Animals
This was a wonderful anti-real-fur/pro-faux-fur campaign. Again, it's from 1974. Why on earth can't the fashion industry stop using real fur once and for all –– finally, after all this time?

Here is the heading: "Five women who could easily afford any fur coat in the world tell why they're proudly wearing fakes." And then: "Fur coats shouldn't be made of fur."
Ideally, this campaign from 1974 should have worked. It would have easily worked for those who actually care about the welfare of animals and all that humans share the planet with –– it should have also worked for those who are simply affected superficially by the fact that these beautiful, rich actresses have stopped wearing real fur (for those to whom making some connection with wealth and fame are important and meaningful factors in their decision-making.)
It should have worked for anyone with a conscience, because the alternative is simply cruel. That this campaign did not work is definitive of how entitled humans have been, continuously, when it comes to decisions that affect others terribly. Other species have no choice but to share this earthly space with humans, and humans continue to be the cruelest and most dangerous animals on the planet. It is truly heart breaking.
People should evolve over time, if humans are as evolved as they tend to believe themselves to be, in that we have minds that absorb and differentiate information and make decisions based on previous experiences –– those of our own, and those of others. Why is this campaign/photograph such a sad indication of how little people really do evolve over time? It is terribly distressing for many reasons.

The fashion industry is at its core a creative industry, one that's ever-evolving while recycling from the past. At its core, it is also a business, and that is what drives many of its participants to do what they do.  But the decision to sell clothing people are willing to buy, without causing horrifying harm to other species, should be an easy one to make.
Why do so many high fashion labels continue the antiquated practice of using real animal fur when alternative synthetic materials that are just as beautiful and warm exist? Popular high-end designer labels like Burberry, Fendi, Louis Vuitton and Gucci still utilize real fur. Despite her own commendably strong stance against using fur and leather in her designs, Stella McCartney's parent company unfortunately is Gucci.

On the other hand, the Arcadia Group, which includes Topshop & Selfridges, has pledged not to sell fur. The Arcadia Group states in its Fashion Footprint FAQ's: "We are committed to not selling any items made of real fur. All our suppliers are required to sign up to our animal welfare declaration as part of their factory set up. In addition, our internet-based test report system automatically reminds suppliers of our animal welfare policy when they are asked to supply goods made from animal sources."

The long list of designers who continue to use real fur is profoundly long, and their reluctance to stop is both tragic and abhorrent.
Why would anyone choose cruelty and suffering for any reason –– but especially for no reason? It's disheartening to say the very least to see that this campaign from several decades ago did little to change something that's so simple to change. Stop using real fur, fashion industry, please and finally.

Speciesism is in no way more tolerable than racism. If one does not discriminate between species and is willing to look at the suffering of animals all over the world at the hands of humans, it would be made clear that theirs (all animals, apart from humans) is by far worse than any plight that has affected living beings in the history of the world.
Whether or not one chooses to see animals suffering terribly for no reason, these useless practices continue to exist. Whether the end result of that suffering is all that certain humans are willing to experience, the means still exists. And anyone who is willing to make fashion out of real fur, buy fashion made of real fur –– and wear fashion made of real fur –– is also entirely responsible for that very same amount of fur being ripped away from the body of an innocent, helpless & suffering animal who looks far more beautiful wearing it than any human ever could.
These days, some of the fashion industry's greatest ambassadors still plead for the most sensible move each and every label could make, and that's to stop using real fur. Twiggy Lawson, arguably the most famous fashion model of all time, who is also an actress, singer, and entrepreneur, attempts each year to get designers at London Fashion week to listen to this simple message against cruelty.
How many well-intentioned and heartfelt campaigns, and how many fashion plates of note or otherwise, must plead for this to change? And for how long? How many lifetimes of good service by animal welfare advocates will it take for the fashion industry to stop the cruelty?
More about The Fund For Animals' 1974 anti-fur campaign: http://www.fundforanimals.org/about/history.html.
More about Jayne Meadows: http://www.stevedalepetworld.com/print-archive/vintage-stories/animal-stories/359-jayne-meadows.
More about Amanda Blake: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanda_Blake

(Also published for Vintage Fashion at Examiner.com.)