Home » on your person » oh, the fashionable flashback of feathers

oh, the fashionable flashback of feathers

What, is it the 1890s again? Feathers are everywhere: dangling from ears, pinned to clothing, sewn in as trim, and stuck in as hair extensions. Yeah, it’s a pretty gross throwback.

Birds really don’t have the best of luck on this planet. At least the ones we either find to be pests (then we just poison them) or the ones we find useful for food, to fill our pillows and blankets and jackets, or to make us pretty.

A woman at my office tried to hand me a hook earring with a feather on it, saying she’d found it on the floor. I refused to touch it and she laughed. I explained, “Well, that part was in someone’s ear, and that part was in a bird.” She said she didn’t even think of that: “I guess I’ll go wash my hands.” Are people really not making the connection between feathers and the source? Do people assume they’re synthetic because, after all, it’s 2012, and didn’t the Audubon Society fight that fight years ago?

For those who do see the direct line between feather and bird, non-vegans can pretty easily rationalize that the birds are killed for food, so we might as well use every part (the leather excuse). However, at least from what I read here, this is not the case. The feather birds aren’t good eatin’ birds.

I tried searching for cruelty-free feathers and found a source that sounded very against the standard practices…but they’re still bird feathers plucked from birds. This company was just glad no birds were killed for their feathers…but they’re still bird feathers plucked from birds! The claim is that the plucking feels just like plucking a hair from your head…but why do you need to pluck bird feathers from birds?!

The next level of “cruelty-free” feathers led me to “vegan” feathers. What are they made of? It’s a keratin/synthetic hybrid. So where does keratin come from? Well, it’s a protein found in skin—know of a good vegan source of skin? Other materials used for faked feathers are silk and cheaper feathers tarted up to look like fancy feathers.

My strategy, rather than look for fakes, is to avoid the aesthetic, just not play the game and risk not looking as cute. If there were (maybe are—I just couldn’t find any) genuinely vegan feathers out there, how widespread would their use be? Would the addition of vegan feathers (I’m sure not marketed as such, except in very few cases) fan the flames of fashion, causing every tween out there to neeeeeeeeeeed that feather clip for her hair?

I don’t have any answers. This has just been bottling up in me for a while and I had to get it out. I guess if I ever really need to feel fancy, Manic Panic has these feather-free boas that don’t really look like feathers. I could rock that.


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