This is a story that I am hesitant to share, mainly because I worry that people will think that I am stepping on toes. I am not. This is a personal view, and I personally feel this way about myself…not others.
There is only one way to start this story: When I was 19, I worked in retail. I worked in a shoe department filled with expensive (and inexpensive) shoes of all styles. Leather was very popular. You would have ladies come in who would demand leather, and only leather. I figured that it was understandable. I mean, leather is such great quality!
It wasn’t until a few months in when we were in the middle of boot season. We got in what feels like thousands of leather boots.
So many people wanted them, and many of them sold out quickly.
One customer I had was looking for boots. I showed her leather and non leather. She did not seem closed off to leather, but at one point, she mentioned that she avoids leather because she is an animal rights activist. I just smiled, and had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.
Seriously, I had no idea what leather was made out of. I had no idea that some of the boots I was selling once had a face.
I think that working in semi high-end retail really got to my head. I found myself wanting all of the expensive products that my customers were buying. I was watching some Youtube videos where girls boasted about all of their designer products. I wanted that.
Honestly, I have always had expensive taste, and there will always be a materialistic side of me.
I am not saying that I am proud of it, but it is just how I have been since I was 9 or 10.
I had this purse from Old Navy that I thought was ugly. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of Old Navy’s clothes, not bashing the company at all, but I didn’t like the bag I had. I was sick of it. I wanted something better…something expensive.
Then, I discovered the Rebecca Minkoff M.A.C. Bag. A regular size is $295 and I wanted it oh so badly. I also wanted a 3.1 Phillip Lim bag, but for $800…yeah, no.
Black Friday was right around the corner, and I had a feeling that I would get a good commission check, and I was right. I was able to get the bag. I called a Nordstrom in Seattle and was told that the color I wanted was out of stock (I later went there and said I ordered it online and the lady told me that I asked for the wrong color….no I didn’t), and I wanted the bag so badly that I bought it online with overnight shipping.
Yeah, I wanted that bag that badly.
When it arrived, I was the happiest girl alive. Everyone told me how nice it was, and I agreed. I felt so proud of it. I earned it.
A photo of me with my purse back in December. And yes, I am wearing Uggs. Another thing I was very uninformed about.
I had no idea what I was supporting.
I have carried the bag for two years, and I continue to now. I have a feeling that it will last two more years. It really is a great quality, but it comes at a price.
When I switched to a vegan diet, I told myself that it was only for health reasons and that I would not exclude other products from my life. I was naive, and I was selfish.
But then I watched Earthlings. Even though I had realized what leather actually was, I failed to make the connection.
After that, I knew that I never wanted to purchase leather again.
I honestly just felt selfish. An animal died….just so I could have a designer purse? Was ‘status’ really that important to me?
At that point, I knew what really matters. Compassion. Getting through life causing as little harm as possible to others.
I was so proud of that bag, and it is a symbol of hard work to me, but I honestly have nothing to be proud of. That bag is skin. It had a face, a beating heart, and a desire for life.
I decided that that wasn’t important when I made the purchase.
I made that decision every time I bought leather shoes.
I am not making that decision anymore.
I am still using that bag, only because I feel that the damage has been done, and I may as well wear it out. Yes, that is a very common and accepted decision made by vegans.
I am not trying to make people who wear leather feel bad. I am talking about my personal feelings about myself and what my values are.
I don’t want to intentionally harm animals anymore. There are more important things out there than a designer bag. I think that empathy is one of them.
When I was 19, I made an ignorant decision (it really was…I did not know any better), and at 22, I can say that I will not make that decision again.
It is so crazy how priorities can change after you educate yourself. I promise to always make the commitment to never purchase genuine leather ever again.
Again, I need to say that I am not attacking people who choose to wear leather. We all have different standards when it comes to morals and personal choices, and choosing to never wear leather was mine. I consider it to be something that is wrong, so I choose to not support something that I am against. I will not judge anybody who thinks differently. We can agree to disagree.
As always, namaste.