2005 08 11
Explananda, Fashion Edition

Warning: grody stuff discussed here.

This NY Times article describes a hot new trend for fall: clothes made from “astrakhan” or “broadtail”, which is the fur of baby lambs of a certain breed. But also, the article tells us, the finest astrakhan comes from lamb fetuses, a few weeks before they would be born. Sometimes labor is induced, but it sounds like more often the pregnant ewe is killed and the fetus cut out.

Ok, there are many grody things here. First, the fashion industry and fashion journalism in general. Second, making fetishy clothes out of skin when there’s no real need to use skin. Third, killing baby lambs. Fourth, killing fetal lambs. Fifth, killing and cutting open pregnant ewes.

The author is obsessed with the fetal lambs angle. That seems to be the main reason the article was written. Did you realize, Ms. High-Fashion Consumer, that your $75,000 coat was made from fetal lambs?!

(The fashion consumers and designers mentioned in the article don’t seem to give a damn. You can almost hear them waving him away.)

The author seems to think making clothes out of fetal lambs is much worse than making them out of baby lambs, and that both are worse than making clothes out of adult sheep. Why? Shouldn’t it be less bad? (Supposing that the concern is not for the ewe but for the fetus.) The fetus isn’t walking around, looking at the big blue sky, thinking of its lamby future, wondering who the man with the knife is, feeling fear and pain.

Supposing you get the fetus without harming the ewe, it’s not morally worse to use the skin of a fetus than it is to use the skin of a lamb. It’s probably morally better. I mean, it’s grody — but as I said, killing animals to make clothes out of their skin when you don’t need to is just grody, and I don’t see why these are more grody.

Maybe the author is (or expects readers to be) motivated by a tacit view that fetuses are “like babies, but even more small and helpless”, so it’s worse to hurt them. They’re like baaaaby babies!

Is this what’s going on in the minds of right-to-lifers? Anybody else think this is just weird?

Also, bonus points for making sense of this mangled explanation:

That concerns about astrakhan have made little headway this year can be partly explained because organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have largely lost sympathy with fashion designers and models like Cindy Crawford, who embraced the organization’s campaigns in the 80’s but grew weary of its intimidating techniques.

Concerns about astrakhan would hurt the fashion industry, right? But PETA hasn’t raised these concerns, because they don’t like the fashion industry?

Howls of outrage (6)