Were you thinking that advertisements for girls’ shoes are a little lacking these days?
Were you looking for some added weight-loss pressure in the way that they’re marketed?
Yeah, me neither.
Nevertheless, Skechers now carries Shape-ups for girls (ages 7 to 12). Unlike other childrens’ shoes, these Shape-ups feature a rounded sole intended to shape and tone.
That’s right, shape and tone young girls’ bodies.
When a girl sees the commercial advertising these shoes she is announced “Breaking News!” about the Shapes-ups following a song by a thin, all-girl band, singing the praises of their shoes.
Lead singer Heidi, like all the girls in the band, is wearing Shape-ups. According to the lyrics, she “has everything a girl wants,” and is “looking good and having fun.”
Strangely enough, along with Heidi looking good and having fun, she is also able to outrun guys dressed up as hot dogs, cupcakes, and ice cream cones.Â
This commercial sends the message to girls that they need to buy products to enjoy themselves and to look the way they would like to look; while also not so subtly telling them to stay away from certain foods – or at least certain boys in food costumes.
Leonard Armato, President of Skechers Fitness Group, defended the shoe, saying, “American children are more sedentary now than at any time in our history. Shape-ups’ intended purpose is to promote exercise and fitness, which should be viewed as a positive message for kids to get up and get moving.”
Promoting an active and healthy lifestyle for children is a positive message. However, this product is not intended for all children – namely boys.
Surprisingly enough, when I searched for Skechers Shape-ups for boys, nothing came up. Because they don’t exist.
Armato further defended the shoe by comparing it to the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!”Â Initiative which aims for children to get active and healthy.
Comparing the two is like comparing breast implants to a breast self-examination chart.
One is entirely concerned with physical appearance while the other is concerned with overall health.
The “Let’s Move!” initiative gives parents tips on nutrition and encourages them to engage in physical activity with their children, within their community, and at school. It also aims to provide healthier food in schools so that all children have access to nutritious options.
It is a comprehensive health initiative; it is not offering a specific product as a solution to obesity.
We need to recognize that these Shape -ups contain a harmful message to girls. This instills in girls that they need to put a premium on physical attractiveness and that they should look to products to alter their bodies. Alterations which Skechers representatives would probably call harmless shaping and toning.
So what can you do? Tell Skechers to discontinue “Shape Ups for Girls”! You can sign the petition on Change.org.
Megan Soriano is attending The Art Institute of California San Francisco in pursuit of her Bachelors in Fashion Marketing. Her fashion background and exposure to media messages within the fashion industry sparked her interest in media literacy and getting involved with About-Face. Once she graduates, Megan is interested in becoming a visual merchandiser and getting into jewelry design.