People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is criticizing the “Single Ladies” singer for attire she wore during her critically fawned-over halftime performance on Sunday -- a black-leather body suit fashioned from the skins of various animals, including cows, snakes and lizards.
The outspoken animal-rights organization said the outfit, by the Russian-American designer Rubin Singer, is out of step with much of the work produced by today’s fashion designers, who are turning toward more “humane vegan options.” The group was particularly distraught over the outfit’s use of so-called exotic skins, the trade of which results in the slaughter of millions of reptiles each year, according to PETA.
“We need more awareness in this area,” said Lindsay Rajt, PETA’s associate director of campaigns and outreach. “People aren’t as familiar with reptiles as they are with the furry animals they share their homes with, but snakes and lizards are every bit as sentient as dogs and cats, and they do suffer.”
The skins of python, anaconda and alligator are common in handbags and other accessories, but critics say the methods used to poach the animals and remove their skins are needlessly cruel. In many cases, Rajt said, the animals’ skins are removed while they are still alive. At slaughterhouses in places like the Javanese jungle, in Indonesia, pythons are skinned alive and then tossed into a pile where they can live in agony for hours or days before succumbing to shock or dehydration.
“Our undercover investigations have turned up stomach-turning cases of cruelty,” Rajt said. “We’ve seen poachers nailing the heads of live snakes to trees, animals left in pain to suffer and die, all for a handbag or a shoe.”
Singer, who designed Beyoncé’s Super Bowl outfit specifically for her performance, did not respond to a request for comment. According to a blog post by the designer, the star’s body suit was supposed to be reminiscent of “warrior armor.” “Strips of engineered python, paneled iguana and trapunto/pick stitched leather were sewn together in contrast to the flounce skirt and insets of delicate black Chantilly lace in areas where skin can be seen,” Singer wrote.
Despite this incident, Rajt said she has become encouraged in recent years by a “growing list” of companies that have pledged not to sell merchandise made from exotic skins, a list that includes clothing companies such as Nike and retailers such as H&M and Overstock.com.
PETA’s relationship with Beyoncé has ebbed and flowed over the years. The group has often criticized the “Dreamgirls” singer for parading around in fur coats and other non-vegan attire. In one instance in 2006, PETA even confronted her at a restaurant in an attempt to “reason with Beyoncé on the subject.”
In 2008, the group declared a “ceasefire” with the singer after a report came out stating that she had given up fur. But as recently as January, Beyoncé was at it again, donning a fur coat for her appearance at President Barack Obama’s inauguration.
PETA said it has not yet heard from Beyoncé regarding the Super Bowl outfit or the inaugural fur coat, but the group is holding out hope that the pop star will one day commit to the decision to “go faux.”
“Our hope is that she’ll choose more cruelty-free looks in the future,” Rajt said. “We have a long, long list of celebrities who are fur-free: Penelope Cruz, Kristen Stewart and even Michelle Obama has said publicly that she will no longer wear fur.”