Ellen Degeneres is facing a maelstrom of criticism after the talkshow host—and self-professed vegan—launched a fashion line that includes leather and suede shoes. Manufactured by in Brazil by the Camuto Group, the billion-dollar enterprise that sources footwear for Tory Burch and Nine West, among others, the ED by Ellen shoe collection is available at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City, where they average at $200 per pair. “I am so excited for my brand to partner with the Camuto Group,” Degeneres, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ 2010 Woman of the Year, told WWD earlier this month. “They say you have to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to really know how they feel. Well, now you can literally walk a mile in my shoes, or even further if you choose.”
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Not all her fans appear to be convinced, however. An online petition denouncing the use of leather has already garnered more than 32,000 signatures.
“Ellen knows better, because she used to serve as an educator on these issues,” wrote Chris Sosa, a vegan advocate, on the petition site. “Cows used for leather are castrated, burned, dehorned and generally tortured. Pigs have their tails cut off, ears mutilated and testicles cut out….Ellen is fully aware of the intelligence of these creatures and the awful lives they lead when humans unnecessarily exploit them.”
The comedian, who made headlines in 2008 for her vegan wedding to actress Portia de Rossi, frequently describes herself as a “big animal lover.”
In 2010, Degeneres sat down with Katie Couric to explain her switch to veganism. “I watched a documentary, Earthlings,” Degeneres said. “It’s inside footage of factory farms; 50 billion animals a year are killed. They’re in pain, treated badly, diseased, pumped full of antibiotics. I saw the reality and just couldn’t ignore it. And I’m healthier and happier.”
But even her most ardent supporters are noticing a disconnect.
“Ellen, you have been my hero since I can remember,” wrote one fan on Degeneres’s Facebook page. I literally grew up with you as a role model and shining light. That is why I am so devastated that it appears you are saying one thing and doing another. You have always been a champion for animals, and now they say you are making money from their torture with your new shoe line.”
Jane Velez Mitchell, an animal-rights activist, called the situation “very sad.” “I was a huge fan until this,” she wrote on Facebook. “How can Ellen have a very public epiphany about the unnecessary torture/slaughter of billions of animals for food/leather and then…oops, let’s kill more so I can make money on shoes! Don’t you have enough money, Ellen? Really.”
Another commenter, who calls herself “rosyrobyn,” responded to the WWD piece with, “Leather? From a ‘vegan’? Make up your mind Ellen. Do you care about animals or not?”
Then again, Beyoncé never held herself up as a defender of animal rights.
[Via The Dodo]