Yes, I bought a fake fur.
I can’t fix all the problems of climate change and extinction. But I can dress for winter. So off to my favorite “gently used” clothing store for some new-to-me sweaters.
Do I really buy all my clothes used, out of a political conviction about consuming raw resources? Or am I just cheap? Luckily, I don’t bother myself about these fine distinctions.
After wearing the fur a couple of times (It’s definitely too much for the pinball bar where I spent New Year’s eve, but not too much for the hipster pizzeria, strangely enough. Could I wear it to church? If, you know, I were a churchgoer and not an atheist?), I got to worrying.
Does owning a fake fur sweater make me a piss poor animal lover?
I went, almost mindlessly, to the PETA site (People for the ethical treatment of animals). I expected a full on sermon on the symbolic evils of fake fur. After all, these are the folks best known for throwing paint on the minks of celebrities.
To my amazement, I found a carefully reasoned policy saying that fake furs are okay.
Fakes, it emerges, are even a little trending.
Of course I was bred for guilt, so I couldn’t rest there. It seems there are also some fake furs out there that have a quantum of real fur.
So I used the three tests recommended by the Guardian for determining whether fake fur is really fake.
The skin of the dead is a giveaway
First, the back should look and feel like fabric, not skin. Check. That’s definitely a knit backdrop.
Beyond all that, my fake fur sweater smells like the acrylic content that the label asserts.
(A fellow activist and I once crept into a fur store just for the hell of it. The smell of dead animals was overwhelming. Apparently, there aren’t enough odor eaters in the world to cover up that travesty.)
Better to have faith than to burn
The next test is to burn a small amount of fur. Clearly, I had to wait until I got home, rather than setting fire to the ladies’ auxiliary thrift store.
Hell, that was dangerous.
And inconclusive. I was supposed to get sticky plastic balls, if it’s fake, and singed fur, if it’s real. The sample instantly disappeared in the experiment, and then I was figuring out how to keep from burning down the kitchen.
Do NOT test your fur this way, not at home. Not anywhere. I hope the smell dies back before my husband gets home. I’m canceling my subscription to the Guardian.
Blunt or tapered
The third test is to examine the individual hairs to determine whether they are tapered or blunt. If blunt, they are man-made.
They look blunt, but I’m not at all sure I could tell the difference. And I’m still shaking from the fire experiment, so that’s it. I’m going a different direction with this.
The pit bull smell test
As I said, the fur smells fake, which is to say, it doesn’t smell like a murdered mammal.
Nevertheless, my smell is not my superpower. But I know someone who can smell trace elements of meat and plant food through a brick wall a mile away.
My pit bull, Alice.
She was napping when I began my experiment.
Here is Alice’s level of interest in my fake fur:
This continued for a few minutes.
Here is Alice’s level of interest when her favorite cat entered the room. Trust me, there’s tail wagging here.
Quick kiss, then back to the experiment.
Alice’s level of interest in trace elements of tuna:
So, I’m declaring my fake fur fake. But the great thing about buying from a charity thrift store is that I can always donate it back. What do you think? Should I?