Did Ellen DeGeneres Post ‘Poverty Porn’ During Her Africa Vacation?

The talk show host recently celebrated her 60th birthday in Rwanda — and ended up rubbing fans the wrong way.

Ellen DeGeneres incurred some social media wrath this week after posting Instagram photos of her birthday vacation in Rwanda.

The talk show host turned 60 in January and, as a late birthday celebration, she and wife Portia De Rossi spent a week in Rwanda at the beginning of June, AOL reports. While DeGeneres posted a variety of photos showing herself interacting with elephants, gorillas, and other wildlife, it was a pic of DeGeneres posing with children that rubbed some on social media the wrong way.

The offensive pic, posted to Instagram earlier this week, shows a smiling DeGeneres standing with 14 children.

“Thank you to all the amazing people I met on my trip, who helped make it so special,” she wrote alongside the snapshot which accrued nearly 600,000 likes.

Some posters, however, saw the picture as "poverty porn." CNN defines poverty porn as sharing exploitative images of those living in destitution, and says it is a tactic used by nonprofit and charity organizations in order to gain empathy — and charitable contributions. 

While DeGeneres’ post did not include any calls for donations, the act of posing for a photo with over a dozen nameless children seemed problematic to some, who took to social media to express their disappointment with the comedian.

“Ellen, the purpose of #VisitRwanda is to encourage tourism and business opportunities. You’re not helping by participating in Poverty Porn. Africans don’t travel to your country to take pictures with your half-a-million homeless people. Please do better. We are no ones charity,” one Twitter user wrote.

“You landed at a nice airport and stayed at a lovely hotel before your trip to find poor African children to take pictures with. But this is the only Africa you want to show the world,” wrote another Twitter user.

One user pointed out just how common this type of photo is, writing, “A trip to Africa is not complete without the trademark poverty porn photo op.”

Actress Kelechi Okafor also chimed in, writing, “And now for the customary picture with ‘Poor Black Children.’”

“I’m going to start going around England taking pictures with white children. Possibly handing them a cube of Maggi,” she continued in a series of tweets. “Dating sites are full of pictures where white people have dragged some unassuming Black child to pose with them while they visited ‘the country of’ Africa. It doesn’t make you look cool or well travelled, you just look like a dickhead who is deeply committed to their White Saviour Complex.”

Still, some defended DeGeneres.

“If you ever been in The villages you know very well that this picture is very normal and beautiful, kids getting excited to take a picture. Nothing more nothing less. And if she was in the city, she would have taken a city picture. Why the hate?????” wrote one Twitter user.

DeGeneres is not the only celeb who’s been accused of exploiting poverty via Instagram. Fans ripped into Kim Kardashian last year for allegedly trying to look poor on Instagram by using a specific filter for all of her family photos.

DeGeneres and De Rossi’s trip was preceded by De Rossi setting up The Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund as a special birthday present, E! News reports. The focus of the couple’s trip this month was to help the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund build a campus.

Still, when it comes to photo ops, Ellen might want to stick to posing with her foster elephant.

[Photo: Ellen DeGeneres via Getty Images]

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