By Kristen McFarland on This Dish is Veg
Skin Trade, directed by Shannon Keith, is a powerful documentary on the fur industry. The film begins with the history of killing animals for profit, starting with Native Americans selling skins to white fur traders, but makes it clear that the modern fur industry is not anywhere close to the Native American way of life. Native Americans passed their furs down through generations. Among their reasons for fur were spiritual and survival reasons, not fashion. The film contains interviews with Native Americans, fashion designers (such as Todd Oldham) and other celebrities (Rikki Rockett, Lacey Conner, the Barbi Twins and more), and animal rights activists.
Intense footage of the brutal killing of animals for the fur industry is juxtaposed against the lies that the sales associates in stores will tell their customers. When asked about how the animals are killed and treated, the sales associates reply, “It’s just like taking your dog to the pound when she’s sick and they put her to sleep. It’s humane.” Really, the animals are being anally electrocuted, their necks are being broken, and they are being stomped on. The fur is ripped off of the backs of the animals while they are still alive and there are no regulations for this.
Skin Trade even shows footage from China, which can be even more disturbing to viewers because in China there are absolutely no laws protecting animals. Chances are that if you buy “faux fur” that is made in China, it’s nearly a guarantee that the “faux” means dog or cat instead of “fake.” One cannot help but feel depressed and upset after viewing the horrifying images in this film, but the visuals are the only way to convey the brutality of the industry properly. There are not enough words to describe the pain of these animals.
Out of all of the things that humans do to non-human animals, the fur industry is among the worst because it is for one thing: vanity. Wearing fur is a status symbol, just like an SUV or a fancy car and it is disgusting.
The lies told by the fur industry do not stop at what the fur actually is and how the animals are treated, though. Skin Trade even touches on the environmental impact and how fur is not as “green” as the industry has claimed in recent campaigns.
Even though the film does contain graphic imagery, do not let this aspect turn you off. The film mainly focuses on interviews and the thought processes of the people purchasing fur and those that are boycotting the industry. Because the film is mainly interviews and facts about the industry, the graphic footage is even more powerful.
After viewing the film, I am left wondering why people still contribute to the industry. Answers are provided, such as vanity, power, and quick money, but I am still left dumbfounded. The street interviews with the women that still don their bodies with fur left me even more bewildered as to how people are completely content in their ignorance or even content in their lack of compassion for other living creatures. One woman went so far as to say that “women need fur.” Why? Because the major fashion magazines tell you so? We definitely live in a world where it is fashionable to love only yourself.
If you are reading this and you wear fur, even the most miniscule amount, please watch Skin Trade and educate yourself on what you are supporting. You can get more information on the film at the film's website.
“Just one question: Are you aware?”- James Cromwell, Skin Trade