Friday, March 20, 2009

I heart you... with leather?

So, I used to be a myspace addict. I have four (4) myspace profiles, and for a time there I was on all four, all day long, checking obsessively. Did I get any messages? Any comments? Any friend requests!? It was a temporary incarnation of what seems to be a permanent condition.

See, there's always something that I'm checking obsessively. Lately it's bead shopping. Immediately before that it was cross stitch shopping, and before that seeing how many views each of my Etsy items had gotten, and whether or not any of them had been "hearted". The Etsy thing, really, is a fairly constant check, one that doesn't go away. A few times a week at least I need to see who just "hearts" my whole shop in general.

I engaged in such a check this morning, and found that I had three new hearters. For joy! It makes a girl feel loved, or at least appreciated for her craft. When I get these hearts, I generally go check out the profile, or shop if there is one, of the person leaving it. This morning's selection... held some surprises.

The first was just a user, not a seller. As is typical, there wasn't much of a profile. Cool, she digs me, moving on. The second was a fellow Vegan Etsy team member with a very cute shop - always fun to find each other. Awesome. And then I came to the third. It was immediately obvious how she'd found me - her location is also listed as Long Island City. And I thought, is there another team member within spitting distance of my studio? Because really, how cool would that be?

Well, taking a look at her shop it became evident very quickly that this person was NOT a member of any vegan group. Leather items were featured prominently throughout the shop, most of which took the shape of animal bookmarks. Refusing to give up hope entirely, I clicked on the monkey - because maybe, just maybe, it was fake leather?

Ummyeah, no such luck. Not did it only boast of being crafted from genuine natural-tanned leather, but the listing also stated that these were "Bookmarks for the Animal-lovers of the world!" And what really cracked me up - she made a point of clarifying that vegetable based dyes had been used.

My gut reaction was to click the link at the bottom of the page to "contact the seller about this item", and write the following:
Why would animal lovers want to purchase the DEAD FLESH OF ANIMALS? Please un-heart me immediately.
Now, fortunately I quickly thought better of this. Because while it's true that the adoration of a leather peddler baffles me, and while she probably just did it to put one more link to her shop out there, I nevertheless don't want to come off as that girl. You know, the self-righteous vegan jerk. If I do contact her, I want to state my case a bit more eloquently.

And state my case I may because this does irk me. Her shop is cute on the surface I guess, but I don't want to be associated with someone who so proudly sells leather. OK, so her uncle in Japan is the "master leather craftsman" making the stuff. Does that make it any less the parts of dead animals? No. I also doubt that he's the person killing the cows and stripping them of their skin either.

And while her association with me is vague, it now exists, and as far as I can tell there's nothing I can directly do about it. The only way to eradicate it is to ask her to undo it. (I do know for a fact that she can; I have un-hearted people - bead sellers, for instance, upon realizing that they carried a large selection of bone that I'd somehow missed upon the first visit to their shop, etc.)

But if I ask, will she? What will be the long term ramifications of that?

The fact is that plenty of people have hearted me that are definitely not vegan. Many are my friends. Many are shops that are not vegan-run. But none are people who abhor or disrespect the vegan lifestyle or ethic (to my knowledge), and none of the shops feature non-vegetarian wares. Because when it comes down to it, why would people who sell non-vegetarian items want to be associated with a proudly all-vegan shop? It's a bit nonsensical.

Basically I'm just not sure how to handle this situation. How to keep my associations within my ethical boundaries, yet avoid coming off like a total bitch? I'm taking suggestions, so if you've got any please offer them up.

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