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Cruelty Isn't Beautiful

When I went vegan, rethinking fashion items was one of the things I struggled with most. I have always loved fashion and pretty things, and have come to make a collection of beloved items that back then I deemed beautiful. I have the memory of purchasing certain handbags and feeling very happy and proud about it, especially some of the first ones. I have this rule, that I don't purchase something unless I absolutely love it.

When I made the complete connection about the dairy industry, more connections came along with it. At first, I tried not to think about the leather handbags, but I'm the kind of person who doesn't do well with dissonance and disconnect. I need to act in accordance to my beliefs and feelings and know that I'm doing my best. My own statements about "animals are not for us to use" would come back at me when I looked at my handbag that I knew came from an animal whose life was taken away for human interests. I would try to internally justify it to myself thinking "the thing was already done, it would be wasteful to discard it", "the point is to not purchase any new leather", etc--- but I know people are walking messages. If with my words I don't justify animal abuse/use, but with my actions I display that it's something acceptable that I myself do, my message isn't as strong. If one comes to think about it, wearing a dead animal's skin is crazy! Even if it was already done, even if it's considered normal.. (many horrible things in history were considered normal).

I found myself disgusted with the leather of my bags and wallet. Every time I'd use them something would feel off. I purchased a new wallet- much less fancy than the one I had before- and I felt a lot better. Eventually I found myself a vegan wallet I really liked. One of the hardest things for me was to give away my leather handbags that I loved so dearly. It was difficult, but after I did it I felt a huge sense of relief. Now my closet was free of animal exploitation.

Coming to think about it, I love fashion because I love beauty. I seek beauty in everything. I love animals partly because I think they are one of the most beautiful things on these earth, for the goodness of their hearts.

If you see a handbag with a nice color and design, in a store display, it seems beautiful. Its presentation is so separated from its origin (unlike a steak)- and that makes it harder for the brain to make the connection. In reality, if you think about it, it is far from beautiful. I don't want my wardrobe to have anything to do with animal exploitation. Something that is beautiful should be so in every way (including fair trade and sustainability).

Years later, I am happy to have a collection of beautiful vegan leather handbags and vegan shoes. Now when I purchase an item I am happy not just because it looks good, but also because I found something that didn't harm animals, and I can be a walking message of how it is possible to be okay, stylish and happy without the use of animals. Choices like this slowly push the fashion industry to leave cruelty behind.

-Maggie Stilman

Founder, Editor & Writer

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