No Better Than Fur: Do You Know Where Your Feather Extensions Come From?
June 8th, 2011
I’ll get this out of the way, first: I was considering getting a feather hair extension a few months back, decided that I’d ruin it somehow and didn’t go through with it. But, I think they’re gorgeous! So exotic and colorful… and a great way to add pizazz to your hair without commitment. We all want that, right?
My view changed today when I learned where feather hair extensions come from.
“Wait,” you’re thinking. “A bird, right?” Yes, a rooster to be exact. We sometimes use feathers in our bedding, even in crafts, and many of us don’t think twice about how they got into that package! Cheap feathers usually come from turkeys, and are painted to look like other species’ feathers. Cheaper down is made of chicken feathers, but you can purchase Eider Duck down if you want cruelty-free down (they pluck their own down for nests). So, what’s the problem?
Saddle feathers — the ones on the rooster’s bum — grow to optimal length for plucking, usually when the rooster is a year old. The animals don’t usually survive the ordeal, and even if they do, they’re euthanized afterward.
Those roosters didn’t grow feathers like that naturally, either. They’ve been carefully bred for years to get those tail feathers, specifically to be used for fly fishing. Yes, fly fishing. Feather-wearing fashionistas weren’t the first to think of a use for them, but they have been the biggest buyers. Fly fishing store owners are not very happy about this huge trend — their stock is being completely wiped out by salons, whereas very few of these feathers would even be stocked in most fly fishing stores just a couple of years ago. The roosters died just the same, but there wasn’t a reason to kill nearly as many of them.
Whiting Farms Inc., located in Colorado, is one of the largest producers of the fly tying feathers, and they can barely keep up with orders. They’re killing around 1,500 roosters per week for their feathers alone. And that’s just one producer.
I’m no vegetarian, but I do try to be conscientious of where things come from. I don’t want to sound preachy at all, but I’d like to spread the word in hopes that you’ll stop for a moment to consider the origins of feather hair extensions before you decide to hop on the bandwagon.
UPDATE: I came across this Etsy shop that sells faux feathers — they look almost exactly like the trendy rooster feathers. Synthetic hair and cruelty-free for the win!
[Original news source: Seattle Times]