Some mothers are wrapped in wool; mine is wrapped in animal skins.
My mother crowed to me last week over email (with ALL CAPS and animated smiley faces) that it was finally cold enough to break out her mink coat for a trip to the grocery store. Woohoo! Her spirits were lifted at the attention she received in her luxurious fur. My stomach—and heart—dropped.
I’ve seen my mother throw her mink over a pair of jeans and I’ll admit, she looks great, but I also think she’d look great without it. See, I don’t agree with the fact that she wears fur. I don’t agree with clubbing animals over the head so that we can stay warm. In my mind, fur is just another example of humans overstepping their place on this planet. And the irony of the situation here lies in the fact that my mother boards people’s furry pets for a living!
A few winters back, I went with my mother to exchange one mink coat for another, and I flipped through magazines while she flirted with the Russian owner of The Fur Gallery to help pick her new pelt. She walked out with a new mink and another set of payments. I walked out frustrated at the hypocrisy of wanting to force my opinions on my mom, when I wouldn’t allow her to do the same to me as a teenager.
When I was fifteen, I stopped eating red meat because I lost the taste for it. In my mid-twenties, I went solely vegetarian because it was easy to eat healthy among the Buddhist cultures I lived with in Asia. I slipped up once I crossed the International Date Line and a few oceans, remembering that fish had been my preferred protein. That was until I interviewed a woman at Earthjustice and learned the real story behind our depleted oceans. So I’m back to being a full vegetarian, and after watching some graphic PETA clips, I’m now committed to buying products that don’t test on animals. It’s an easy sell when I see bunnies with their eyes sewn shut in order to test mascara that they’d only be caught dead wearing.
Many don’t agree with PETA’s tactics (and I doubt they’ll ever bother to smear my mother’s fancy little Boston suburb with fake blood), but their public service announcements are effective. You have to hand it to Ingrid Newkirk, the founder of PETA, who after having a near-death experience, made a list of which of her body parts could be used beyond her death in further campaign stunts. I imagined future protests with her staff throwing her calves at celebrities like the Olsen twins, who recently launched fur in their fashion line only to be smeared by peta2—PETA’s new Web site targeted at the younger set.
Since most of PETA’s supporters appear to be in the eighteen to twenty-four box that I’ve graduated from checking, I was shocked to see the Olsen twins turn such a blind eye. And while I don’t necessarily agree that dressing the twins up as virtual paper dolls in outfits made of dead animal innards is the kindest way to educate them out of their ignorance, I do understand that most people might need a club to their head (unlike a baby seal) in order to get the point.
Like my mother.
When I asked her why she chose real fur over faux, she replied. “I've thought of selling the mink that you and I got together, but I put it on and feel like I own the world!” A statement that I’m sure resonates with the Olsen twins.
I want my mother to know that there are other ways to feel like you own the world without killing everything on it first, but since I’ve become an adult, I’ve also learned that we can’t change our parents. I did tell her that if she ever does decide to get rid of her coat, there are tons of faux fur options like Charly Calder or Donna Salyers’ Fabulous Furs––they even have faux fur blankets and throw pillows for your bed. And then there are organic faux furs, for those of us who love the trees as much as Thumper.
If I inherit my mother’s mink in her will, I think I will donate it to Coats for Cubs for use at wildlife rehab centers. This way the little babies whose mothers were battered to death can at least feel like the spirit of her fur is nearby.
When I replied to my mother with those faux fur options (no pressure of course), she emailed me Snow White’s army in animated smiley faces: a galloping horse, a blinking beaver, and hopping bunnies. Then she designed the last one herself, a smiley face holding a sign that read, “Mink,” while giving the thumbs down. It’s good to know that Mom and I can always have a laugh, even if we agree to disagree.