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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - A pair of high-heeled woolly Ugg boots to be worn by Australia's representative at the Miss Universe Pageant later this month has come under fire on two fronts -- tackiness and animal cruelty.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) asked Jesinta Campbell not to wear Ugg boots or a lamb's wool shrug at the pageant in Las Vegas on August 23 because it was cruel and unethical, using Australian wool sourced from mulesed sheep.
Mulesing, a common practice among Australian farmers, involves removing strips of wool-bearing skin from the buttocks of sheep in a bid to reduce a potentially lethal maggot infestation called flystrike.
"Some people say that Ugg boots put the 'Ugg' in 'ugly,' but we believe that mulesing puts the 'ugly' in Uggs," said PETA's director of campaigns, Jason Baker, in a statement.
PETA says there are more humane ways to prevent flystrike, and that it has persuaded many clothing designers and retailers such as H&M and Limited Brands to stop sourcing mulesed wool.
Campbell's costume, by Sydney designer Natasha Dwyer was said to have been inspired by the outback. But Australian media described it as a "national joke" and a "travesty." The country does not have a national costume.
Campbell, 18, who won the Miss Universe Australia title in June, could not immediately be reached for comment. She previously described the costume as "incredible."
Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Dean Goodman