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Open Letter to American Figure Skater Johnny Weir

January 20, 2010 | Fur

Dear Johnny Weir,

Johnny Weir
Johnny Weir

A recent New York Times article discussed your quest for the gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics.

The author mentioned your outfit had a "touch of fox" on the shoulders, and, despite your third place showing at the United States Figure Skating Championships on Sunday, you thought your outfit "looked pretty."

Please consider that there's nothing pretty about the fox that suffered and died to trim your outfit. The beautiful fox was likely anally electrocuted, or may have had its head bashed in, only to serve as decoration for someone's performance.

If you buy fur, no matter what size piece, or which animal it comes from, you're supporting an industry that has no respect for animals.

You say that you want to bring an "artistic style" to the Olympics, stating that "everyone can do jumps." But, as past Olympic champions have shown us, style isn't everything. In addition to skill, you must also have a sense of decorum in order to bring home the gold. And projecting a conscientious view of the planet's animals is a starting point.

While you may believe that wearing fur is a "personal choice," kindly know that the animals you wear had no such choice. The fur doesn't magically slide off these beautiful beings. Their nightmare begins in the cramped cages they spend their lives in, where they are forced to lay in their own feces, and ends with first cut in their anuses. Or maybe some animals you wear were caught in leghold traps, and struggled in vain to gnaw off their legs? Either way, there is nothing glamorous or pretty about the cruelty they endured. And it can't be morally justified either.

Friends of Animals urges you, for the sake of humanity, your Olympic ambitions and the hopes of all Americans this winter, to stop wearing the skins of animals. Instead, wow the judges with amazing performances. In the end, nobody cares what a figure skater wears. You will only be judged on your performance and the strength of your character.

Priscilla Feral
President of Friends of Animals


Thank you for bringing up your concerns. I'll address each of them in turn. 1. No heated battle from Friends of Animals' side -- Pricilla Feral sent a courteous letter to Weir. 2. We agree about being against fur-wearing and the wearing of all animal skins. Friends of Animals asked Johnny Weir not to wear animal skins. 3. Yes, our intervention quickly led Weir (and others following the discussion) to see that most skaters at the Olympics (and many people) wear leather. Good discussion has been raised here. 4. No one said fur is "less humane" than leather. If someone defends a certain community under attack does that mean they do not care about others? 5. Anyone who thinks FoA holds that cows are delicious and deserve to be killed needs to get familiar with the work we do here every day (and night). Please do. I invite you to explore this website! 6. Veganism is an anti-leather campaign. Stop bringing farm animals into existence (or attacking free-living animals such as crocodiles, snakes and ostriches), teach people the ideal of non-exploitation, and the custom of leather-wearing stops. But please don't ask us to sit on our hands when it comes to Arctic foxes -- or polar bears, or horses and burros, or deer and elk and coyotes of the federal parklands, or bats, pelicans, sharks...We'll never do this. We intervene for them and keep them safe to live on their terms. We'll do it as much as our funds, other resources, and time in the day allows. Again, thank you for bringing your concerns up with us and allowing them to be addressed here.

You are disappointing on too many levels to mention. When you grow a demeaner & character, perhaps then you will not disgust us. Wearing fur that is not your own IS DISGUSTING! How can you even focus on your Olympic dream knowing you are a joke? A bad joke who has had his 15 minutes of fame. Bye bye.

i pray that there will be no more "fur farms." i am appauled at the thought. no fur for me, period.

I thought that after a heated battle with FoA and other critics, Johnny Weir's camp substituted fake fur for the fox; he made a public statement and everything. I'm against wearing fur, but I'm also against wearing leather, and he rightly pointed out that most skaters at the Olympics were wearing dead cow on their feet. (As are most humans everywhere.) Why is fur less humane than leather? Because we don't eat fox meat? Because cows are delicious and deserve to be killed? I thought by now most animal rights activists and even vegetarians could agree that leather isn't "just a by-product" of the meat industry, but a thriving industry in its own right. So my point is that maybe we should go after the big boys; the use of leather is so pervasive in our society, that even when I've ordered a product and specified it should be made out of nylon, not leather, it still came with leather trim! People always assume your shoes are made of leather, which is why I favor plastic shoes that don't look like leather at all, when I can get them. Are we too afraid to launch an anti-leather campaign? I think this could be big.

Boycott the Olympics. They displace thousands of humans in every city it is held too. Johnny Weir is a despicable person.

It is very sad these days when a stuck up child like this when scolded for adorning himself in the skin of an animal, can when called out on it point a finger and say things like this “I tend to focus my energy, if there is a cause, on humans. While that may be callous and bad of me, it’s my choice.” I'm sorry but your right, it must be safe in your zone to childishly avoid and redirect your bad choices.. So what have you done for humans lately even then?? How about all those homeless that you spent all that money on your outfit on, so you can walk right by them on the street. You're a disgrace to the US and to your sport to so callously not care about any living thing, but your own self worth.

TO A FUR SCARF The trap jaws clanked and held him fast; None marked his fright, none heard his cries. His struggles ceased; he lay at last With wide uncomprehending eyes And watched the sky grow dark above And watched the sunset turn to grey; And quaked with anguish while he strove To gnaw the prisoned leg away. Then day came rosy from the East But still those steel jaws kept their hold; And no one watched the prisoned beast But Fear and Hunger, Thirst and Cold. Oppressed by pain his dread grew numb. Fright no more stirred his flagging breath. He longed in vain to see him come, The cruel biped, bringing death. Then through the gloom that night came One Who set the timid spirit free: ‘I know thine anguish, little son – so once men trapped and tortured me’. F.F. Van de Water

Please send me a list of every establishment you know of that utilizes such barbaric practices, in particular, the ones which skin animals alive. I will do my utmost to see they are seen publicly for the monsters they are by taking out ad space adjoining their businesses depicting their savagery if it's legally possible.......and even if it's not. Guerilla Advertising: Our greatest weapon.

You should "Weir" something different. They usually say any press is good press, I don't think this holds true for you. I never heard of you, now I have and I have nothing but this to judge you by. The thought that you watched video on animals suffering and still had callous things to say goes to your character. Don't bring Haiti or people suffering into this, it has nothing to do with it. You had a choice to make and seem indifferent to anything but yourself. Is faux fur not a choice for you?

I've been a figure skater for longer than Johnny Weir has been alive and I am appalled at the use of fur in a competition outfit. Actually, I'm appalled at the many figure skating professionals who still think it's somehow fashionable to wear fur at the rink. This is BAD. Johnny, you should be ashamed of yourself.


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