Sunday, June 5, 2011

Feather weight

So this post isn't about libraries or crafting. And I do promise that What's up with libraries? Part 2 is coming soon (writing down what are usually just inaudible groans and sighs of frustration is harder than I thought). I was just reading this article and thought of an interesting connection.

So the article in question was just posted on Yahoo Shine (I'm not ashamed to say that most of my news comes from the Yahoo news feed): High fashion or bait? Fly ties now hair extensions. Go read it. I'll be here when you get back.

Done? I'm willing to do a brief summary. Basically, fly fishers are mad because the new hair trend for women is tying hard to find chicken feathers in their hair, diminishing the supply and driving up the prices. Bizarre, right? Honestly, chicken feathers? Ok, I admit, they are actually feathers from a specialized breed of roosters raised just for their feathers. From the article:

"The feathers are not easy to come by in the first place.

They come from roosters that are genetically bred and raised for their plumage. In most cases, the birds do not survive the plucking."

That's right. They at least euthanize the birds, but still. I'm really not a hard core animal rights activist, but it does seem bizarre to me that this is a trend coming out of an industry (Hollywood) that tends to really value their animals. When these feathers were only used by fly fishers, the demands really wasn't that great, but now the suppliers can't even keep up with the demand.

And they are really giving Steven Tyler the credit for this trend? Last time I checked the Native Americans have been using feathers as hair adornment for a number of years. Although, I don't think that they just tossed the carcass of the birds after they plucked the pretty feathers.

So the interesting connection that I saw in this is to a crusade that Edward Bok, long time former editor of Ladies Home Journal and benefactor of Bok Tower Gardens, took on during his explorations into ladies' fashion. Just as some background, as part of my new job, I read Bok's autobiography The Americanization of Edward Bok: The autobiography of a Dutch boy fifty years later. It's an interesting read, although the particular section I want you to read shows some of his chauvinistic tendencies (ironic, right, as the editor of a ladies' magazine?).

So, go read this section on his campaign against the use of aigrettes (the head plums of an egret) in fashion: pages 332 through 339. It's disturbing. In his research, he found that the birds were basically tortured and killed, leaving their babies to die, in order to get these feathers for the hats. Bok was outraged and picked up a personal campaign to try to get the collection of the feathers outlawed. He published articles, graphic pictures and descriptions, petitioned leaders and advocates. And you know what happened (at first at least)? Sales of the feathers increased. So after they were informed of the atrocities, women were even more eager to get this fashion accessory. Eventually, Bok was able to encourage legislation that curtailed the use of these feathers.

Has humanity really seen no progress that we still use these frivolous fobs for fashion? It's not like we're using animal skins for warmth because we have no other way to stay warm. And do we really need to use feathers from a rooster that had to die in order to decorate our hair? Where is the respect for the creatures of this earth? We are a society of so much waste, and this is just another example of how disconnected we have become from the land and creatures that live with us on this planet. What a shame.

1 comment:

  1. I'm thinking 2 things. 1) "There is nothing new under the sun... all is vanity." And 2) the article didn't actually say the bird carcasses were thrown away - these are farmers, and I'm betting (hoping?) they at least have the sense to sell them to a pet food company.

    That said, is this really and worse than a $400 handbag?