I have been having a lovely Thanksgiving break, but I could not take a vacation from animal rights activism! So on Black Friday, the largest shopping day of the year, I along with many other Chicago activists rallied for the annual Fur Free Friday protest! We marched around Michigan Avenue, a shopping hot-spot, and stopped in front of several stores that sell fur such as Macy’s, Nordstrom, Burberry, and Neiman Marcus. We also did a “Freeze,” in which we all froze in place on the sidewalk while a speaker read a poem.
This was the first formal protest I participated in, and I had an amazing experience. It felt empowering to be bound together with so many other activists. Though we all came from different backgrounds, we were united in the same fight: to end the cruel use of animals for their skin and fur.
It was a very cold and cloudy day. The temperature was below freezing point. But I felt full of energy despite the chill. I could never feel nearly as cold as the animals who were skinned, plucked, or sheared alive out of human vanity and greed.
Since we were protesting in a very busy city area, we were bound to receive a wide range of responses. Many parents covered their young children’s eyes, as some of the signs we carried showed gruesome pictures of skinned animals. Some jeered at us, calling us idiots or telling us we should be helping people instead, as though not wearing animals would be detrimental to their human rights efforts. But most seemed rather unsettled by our protest, and some even cheered along.
I did not let the negative responses get to me. Whenever I heard a passerby start yelling some nonsense at us, I just yelled louder and blocked them out. Because in this fight, I know I must remain focused on the animals, not on some ignorant person’s opinion. As innocent animals shiver, cry, and wallow in agony in their cages, their time is running out. They need my action and voice, not my apprehension and insecurity.
There is someone who I was protesting for specifically. He goes unnamed. I never got a chance to meet him, and I never will. All I know is that he was a coyote who once ran free in the Canadian wilderness. But one day, while walking through the forest, he unfortunately found his paw stuck in a trap. Day and night, he struggled and struggled to free himself, but eventually, out of sheer fatigue and despair, he resigned to his fate. When his time was up, he was shot or strangled by a trapper. His skin was torn from his body and turned into the fur trim for coats. Now, this is the only thing I know him by:
Every day, I see people wearing these coats and it pains me. A life was lost for this unnecessary trim. This is not fashion. This is not beautiful. This is not humane. This serves no purpose, other than to exploit the lives of others for human profit and pride. This is violence. This is stealing. There is no justification for this cruelty.
And it is not just this coyote who lost his life for fur. Each year, over 50 million animals are trapped, shot, gassed, electrocuted, or have their necks broken for their fur. This is beyond cruel and wasteful. Their lives are far more precious than the most expensive fur coats. These beautiful animals, not people, are the ONLY ones who have the right to wear fur. Animals are not ours to wear!
Please, GO FAUX! Fur, down, leather, and wool are cruel products of torture and exploitation! With so many fashionable, durable, and affordable alternatives, this bloodshed is beyond unnecessary. You can find cruelty-free shoes, sweaters, coats, pillows, comforters, and hats at any store. Please always read the label before purchasing something, and if it contains animal fibers or skin, please save a life and leave it on the shelf.
Stay Fur Free!