Sacrificing for fashion

dressing for dinner sm

One only has to look at the annals of history to see the changes in fashion. Styles have dictated the lives of both men and women for as long as we have chronicled human accounts.  Hemlines have gone up and down, fabrics have gone from cotton to synthetics, and all the while we have been addicted to what the fashion designers have charged as “in style.” However, our intentions of being “fashionable” have created a negative impact; our desire to look our best has often been at the expensive of the most vulnerable creatures that share the planet…the animals.

The use of bird feathers in fashion had become an established trend for women in Europe and the United States. The millinery industry in the past centuries supported and encouraged what was vogue. In the 1880s on average, the millinery trade’s demand for plumage and skins resulted in the destruction of as many as fifteen million American birds annually, from songbirds to waterfowl.

Around 1900 it could be said to be the pinnacle of glove-wearing. To satisfy all the varieties from evening gloves, winter gloves, and even driving gloves, they were made from wool, cashmere, silk, kid, doeskin, and cape (a sheepskin leather) for both men and women.   The 1600s was nothing short of devastation for beavers; Europe had all but extinguished their population. Its fur was used to fashion hats and trim coats. Hunters turned to North America to supplement the appetite of the fashion mongers creating the beaver to become nearly extinct here too.

Boots, shoes, belts, jackets, coats, handbags, hats and wallets produced from reptile skins were supplemented for the fashion industry. By the 1950s, demand for hides and uncontrolled hunting in the southeastern United States had almost wiped out the species of alligators.  Even the whales were not left behind. In the 19th century, “whale baleen” (the plates in the whale mouth used to sieve food) was an important fashion tool. Flexible and strong; dried baleen was used in the manufacturing of “tight structure” in clothing, such as corsets.  And we all know the impact furs have had on the extensive array of animals; seals, fox, vicuna (relative to the llama), otters, spotted cats (such as jaguars and tigers).

Sadly, the list goes on and on. So the next time you are in the Florida Everglades consider yourself very lucky if you happen to see a Roseate Spoonbill. Although it is slowly making a come-back, it is a rare site since its ancestors’ beautiful feathers once adorned so many hats.

Today’s esteemed thinker is not relegated to one person in particular, but to those who uphold and protect the Endangered Species Act of 1973. When it was passed by Congress “it recognized that our rich natural heritage is of “esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational, and scientific value to our Nation and its people.” The law prohibits any action that causes a “taking” of any listed species of endangered fish or wildlife. Likewise, import, export, interstate, and foreign commerce of listed species are all generally prohibited. The act provides a program for the conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals and the habitats in which they are found.

Esteemed thinker: Gelett Burgess

the goops Manners are the simple etiquettes between humans that can dictate whether an interaction will be a pleasing or unpleasing experience. Manners are not instinctive; for example we will not find a pair of dogs discussing which one will have the bone but rather they will grab and grapple until the victor is munching happily away at the marrow.

Instead, manners are learned activities that can be passed down from generation to generation like grandmother’s linen tablecloth. But unlike that tablecloth which only dons the table on special occasions; we can only hope that manners are always showing. Alas, this is not always the case and what was once considered ill mannered are now simply part of the norm.

Let me present a few examples of manner interpretations having changed through time. In the earlier part of the 20th century, speaking on the telephone in public was conducted in a private “telephone booth” so as not only to maintain some modicum of privacy but also as consideration to others around. Today, speaking on a cell phone is as conducted everywhere and those around, whether they like it or not, are subjected to its intrusion.

Food today has been packaged in a fashion whereby children hardly need to use any utensils but rather finger their way through a meal; yogurt is squeezed through tubes, chicken is pre-cut as finger- food, and fruit is rolled into plastic-like material to be peeled and eaten. Even waffles are now designed to be neatly fit in the hand and dunked in syrup without the assistance of a fork. Often table manners have been modified for convenience.

And then there was the removing of a man’s hat when indoors, which was once considered good manners but is now regarded as quite archaic.

However, as times have changed our interpretations of manners the one conduct that has not gone out-of-style is the custom of please and thank you whereupon I say, I am pleased that you have stopped by and thank you for taking time from your busy day to read this post! And oh yes … have a most pleasant day!!

Gelett Burgess Today’s post acquaints you with the esteemed thinker: Gelett Burgess (1866-1951) American poet, artist, and humorist. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, his career began after graduating from MIT with an engineer degree. Best known today as the creator of the Goops and the famous Purple Cow verse, he was also the author of many books and a brilliant, iconoclastic American humorist.

From his title, More Goops and How not to be Them, I bring you one of his poems, “At Table” which will indeed fit neatly into today’s post. Enjoy!

At Table

Why is it Goops must always wish
To touch each apple on the dish?
Why do they never neatly fold
Their napkins until they are told?
Why do they play with food, and bite
Such awful mouthfuls? Is it right?
Why do they tilt back in their chairs?
Because they’re Goops! So no one cares!

First image: 1900