THE BLOG
09/29/2010 02:32 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Ugg Boots: The Controversial Fashion Trend

Ugg Boots, the fall and winter boots with a suede exterior and sheepskin interior, have been in style since the 70's. They originated in New Zealand and Australia, originally popular among surfers to keep their feet warm as they came out of the freezing water. But after surfer Brian Smith started selling Ugg Boots in the United Sates, they became a huge fashion trend.

Most teenage girls and college-age women own at least one pair of Ugg Boots, if not several, and nowadays they're all different sorts of colors, shapes and styles. But there's been a rumor that the making of Ugg Boots is cruel to the sheep, causing Ugg to lose customers. Is that rumor actually true?

Well, PETA certainly says so. They have said that the merino sheep, whose wool is used to make Ugg Boots, are sometimes tortured to death if they are a hassle in the process of getting their wool. They also say that since the merino sheep have to grow such huge amounts of wool, it creates folds in their skin which can get cut as the sheep is sheared and left as open wounds.

But the question is, how many times does this really and truly happen and to how many sheep? The number is unknown, and knowing PETA, their information is usually exaggerated to an extent. They do this to shock people out of buying animal-made products; it's the way they try and make lasting impressions on the public. Is this the most honest information to report to Ugg Boot lovers? Not necessarily.

Here are the straight facts: merino sheep are not killed for the boots, they are only sheared, and it is a known fact that sheep are more comfortable without their heavy wool coats. Sheepskin refers to a sheep's wool, not their actual skin. And the outside and bottom of the boots are synthetic. So there is a chance a sheep could be harmed in the process of obtaining its wool, but it is also just that: a small chance. Therefore, its completely up to you to decide whether you will discard your Ugg Boots for the possibility of animal cruelty, or stick with the trend and continue to wear your winter wooly boots.

For me, the information was eye-opening, but I only have one pair of real Ugg Boots, and I am going to still wear them. They were expensive and are very warm and very nice quality, and just the one pair most likely did not cause any sheep any harm. But it really comes down to a personal decision, and a matter of how extreme you are on the animal activism scale.