Shape ups for Girls: Friend or Foe?
Every little girl dreams of growing up and being just like her Mommy. You watch her as she gets dressed, puts on her make up, and think “Wow, I want to be just like Mommy when I grow up”. You want to steal her lip gloss, wear her shoes, and spray her perfume. You want to follow in her footsteps and be just as gorgeous as she is. Unfortunately today, many of us Moms don’t realize that we are sending the wrong message to our little girls. While it’s okay for our little ones to have a little bit of fascination with becoming a woman, there are boundaries that need to be in place.
Little girls need to realize that it’s okay to want to play dress up and look beautiful, but we need not let it take over our lives. I was very shocked to see that the famous footwear company Skechers, the makers of the infamous Shape-Ups (designed to tone and shape your legs and butt) are now making Shape Ups for little girls. I was a little puzzled at first as to why a product that is geared towards enhancing your physical beauty and overall sex appeal would be needed for little girls. I can’t say that I can recall a time at the age of 5 or 6 when I was concerned about toning my thighs. And little girls today should not be concerned with it either.
The brand has launched a commercial with enticing graphics, and an all girl band belting out a tune sure to mesmerize the average 6-year old girl. They insinuate that wearing Skechers will make you fun, flirty, and the object of attention. Their message is reinforced by showing little boys dressed up as hot dogs and cupcakes chasing behind a little girl wearing Skechers with their tongues hanging out of their mouths. "Heidi's got new Shape-ups, got everything a girl wants. She's got the height, got the bounce, yes, she's looking good and having fun," one of the band members sings. While the average 30-something trying to maintain her youth might need a little reinforcement every now and then disguised in the form of men wagging their tails and sticking their tongues out, a 6-year old definitely does not need this type of validation. By embracing the tunes of this disturbing commercial, we are encouraging our girls to be objectified at an earlier age. We are placing emphasis on the shapes of their butts and thighs, rather than the scope of their vocabulary and their compassion for mankind.
I know many of you are probably saying, “Come on Eve, it’s just a commercial”. Well, there are many “harmless” commercials, video games, and pop songs out there targeting our kids. I’m all for Girl Power, but just not in this form. I believe in stressing the importance of making sure our youth are fit and healthy, but nothing in the Skechers ad campaign suggests that they are targeting cardiovascular health and obesity. But what it does suggest, in my opinion, is that Kim Kardashian just birthed a little sister, and she is wearing the hell out of some Skechers. The glitter and hearts on the shoes don’t change the fact that the little boy dressed as a hot dog is still chasing little Kim K. I happen to come from the old school where boys got their hides torn up for being caught chasing girls, and girls got labeled as easy when they were caught enjoying being chased by boys. Are we really encouraging little girls to change their bodies because of their health or because of who may or may not be chasing them?
Furthermore, doctors across the country have come out and warned parents to be weary of the new shoe because of the actual shape of the sole. The bottom of the shoe and its rocking ability could cause injury to ankles, feet, and toenails because they do not provide a stable footing for growing girls. The President of Shape Ups insists, however, that the purpose of the shoe is to encourage healthy behavior and activity, much like the current Let's Move campaign by our First Lady Michelle Obama. Nonetheless, there is a petition at Change.org (with 645 signatures so far) calling for Skechers to discontinue the kids' version of the "body sculpting" shoes.
So what do you say? Is this a harmless campaign by a company who simply wants to encourage kids to be healthy and adapt a healthy lifestyle? Or this just one more nail in the coffin to work against the Women’s Lib movement? Share your thoughts…