Sunday, October 26, 2014


Allow me an unpopular opinion: There's nothing wrong with buying your dog a Halloween costume. Note: I have no plans to do so - it's not for personal reasons that I say this. (Bisou only wears couture; if she can't have that, which she can't, it's a rain/snow coat or nothing at all.) But... how exactly is it ethically different to put money towards a pet's costume than towards, say, home decor? We're not meant to be outraged at the throw-pillow industry. Why do pet outfits inspire such furor? Why do they inspire the whole that-money-could-be-spent-on-something-noble narrative?

Presumably it's for a few different reasons. One being the tremendous (and, I suspect, largely baseless) fear that people are confusing their pets for human children. This behavior is meant to represent the ultimate in decadence. While - to repeat - I don't think there are too many pet owners who sincerely view their pets as human beings, the notion that we would do so taps into various anxieties. The birthrate! Narcissism! Facebook-employee moms defrosting their eggs as a retirement present!

Another is, paradoxically, the same as the outrage inspired by parents who put their babies or toddlers in designer clothing. As if that's somehow spoiling the kid, when it's clearly about what the parents want to see. (Again: the throw-pillow analogy. Not that the child is a throw-pillow. But the choice of attire for the child too young to have an opinion... The Baby Versace jumpsuit or whatever is the throw-pillow.) As if certain outfits are somehow too fancy for a dog, as if they are, you know, for the dog.

But then there's the really obvious objection, which points to the dogs-are-roll-in-the-mud-animals vs. dogs-are-domesticated-pets divide. There are people under the impression that it's dog abuse to interfere with a dog's... dogginess, or something. That even interventions that in no way harm a dog - i.e. putting a silly-looking outfit on said dog - will somehow humiliate the creature. This is the attitude that would shudder at the hyperstylized photos that make up much (but not all) of Japanese poodle Instagram. When, I mean... why can't the very same dog be both? Why not a run in the woods and then some posing for a photo? One of the things you're supposed to do with a dog is train him/her/it to sit on command.

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