Leather has always been seen as a status symbol. It used to be for the rich, the people who have money to flaunt. It was something I wanted, something I thought would make me cool. I always wanted a Fossil purse, I got excited when my friend gave me a hand-me-down wallet, I was thrilled when I found a bargain on a jacket in a Value Village.
And then I saw Earthlings. And then I saw pictures posted by friends at Toronto Cow Save of skins coming out of the factory, steaming in the winter chill from being so recently on their owners. And then I saw them in person when I finally had the courage to go. The white parts of the cows hides weren’t white. They were red, almost indistinguishable from the black/brown parts they were so covered in blood.
Before I started seeing these things, I knew I wasn’t going to be buying any more leather, but I figured I’d be okay to keep using the things that I already had around the house. Mainly my moccasins. I haven’t worn them in months though. Not since Earthlings.
Then last night I went to write in my journal, something I have not done in a while, and really ought to be doing on a regular basis. I paused before I went into my room, realizing that my journal was leather… I tried to talk myself into believing that it was faux, so I’d be okay to keep using it. But I couldn’t trick myself into believing it. I wanted to though. I looked up ways to distinguish faux from real on the off chance that it actually was faux, but after smelling it; I knew. I was repulsed. Recoiled from it after that sniff, I couldn’t have it that near my face.
What a change, eh? I went from looking at leather with awe, wishing that I could have certain things that I could not afford, to being repulsed and saddened and seeing horrifying images in my mind.
But leather is still a status symbol.
It is no longer a symbol of your wealth, it is now a symbol of your character. When I see leather on the streets, I do not see people with expendable income, I see people with disconnected lives. I see people enjoying their ignorance. We all know that leather is cow skin. But we aren’t taught that leather was A COWS SKIN. We don’t acknowledge the death that took place for that jacket, wallet, purse, or pair of boots. We just want to be seen as having that cool thing that everyone wants.
So I’m aiming for a new social recognition that I’d like to be a part of. I don’t want to be seen as “cool” or “rich” or anything like that (not that I ever was anyways, but, I can’t lie: I always wanted it) anymore. I want to be seen as compassionate. And that’s not a “look”… that’s a “do.”