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July 04, 2012  | by: Lauren Kuhl

Kim Kardashian: Before (left) and post PETA flour-bomb (right)

We live in a culture where animals are consumed and used for their meat, eggs, fur, and skin. It has been this way since the dawn of time, when our ancestors utilized the hides of now-extinct animals to keep warm in unpredictable, turbulent environments. In the present, such animal skins serve as a mark of luxury in the form of various accessories. This gradual change in purpose raises an ethical question: is using animals for material goods, whose only purpose seems to be a fashion statement, worth the price?

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen show their love for fur

Ask any member or supporter of PETA, and he will answer with a resounding, “no.” We’ve all read about, and maybe even witnessed firsthand, the statement-making, and often extreme, efforts of PETA in protesting the use of furs and other animal products in fashion. One of its most recent targets are the Olsen twins, in protest of a backpack made of animal pelts. The price of this accessory? Try an astounding $17,000. Needless to say, the relationship between PETA and the fashion industry is a tumultuous one, fraught with anger, outrage, and various expressions of said anger and outrage. Aside from the obvious discontent stemming from PETA and other animal rights groups, is the price of these luxury accessories worth it?

For the fashion-conscious elite, a trendy handbag constructed from alligator skin is both a mark of status and fashion prowess. Such goods often boast prices ranging well into the thousands. For many, this level of fashion luxury is unattainable, making it all the more an indication of status for those who can afford it. For fashionistas on a budget, imitation-goods are not hard to find, but does the act of purchasing the mock-version send a conflicting message? By investing in a knock-off, are we still indirectly promoting the real deal?

Prada Struzzo Executive Ostrich Tote

Despite the multitude of fur/animal skin promoters throughout the fashion industry, there are the few whose animal-friendly efforts have made a difference. Revered designer and daughter of former Beatle Paul McCartney, Stella McCartney cultivated a vegan line of accessories, completely void of all animals products, as a chic option to inhumane and expensive animal products. While the extremity of this effort may be a turn-off for some, it succeeds in raising further awareness regarding animal rights, plus the accessories are really cute!

What is your perspective on animal-skin accessories? Are they worth the price?

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