When discussing my blog with a friend, she showed me a picture of a pair of sparkly, red heeled shoes. Now my friend wasn’t giving me fashion advice or trying to subtly suggest that I needed to dress in a more feminine way: the shoes were actually aimed at babies between the age of 0-6 months. Appalled, I decided to need to research this further.
After trawling the internet I came across several websites that are selling these shoes in a variety of colours and prints. The most notable, ‘Pee Wee Pumps’ (https://peeweepumps.com/), sells shoes with soft, collapsible heels and pointy toes that are designed for baby girls to wear before they can walk. Further investigation took me to the ‘about us’ section of the website which emphasised the shallow and arguably immoral branding of these products. This section of the website opens with the statement:
“Fashion-forward moms love to dress up their little girls with the cutest bows and outfits, and are always looking for the perfect pair of shoes to complete any outfit.”
In this sentences lies the problem: these shoes are aimed at women who are extremely fashion conscious and self-indulgent. The women who would buy these shoes are almost treating their daughters like dolls: your child is not there to ‘dress up’. There is a distinct different between a child who is old enough to choose their own clothes and shoes selecting sparkly, feminine products and a baby, with no choice, having this thrust upon them. A baby between 0-6 months needs little more than baby grows and practical clothing. The amount my four month old nephew dribbles, I see little point in spending money on expensive outfits!
The ‘Pee Wee Pumps’ brand has received much negative media attention: the company has been blamed for fuelling the sexualisation of young children. The shoes have been described as ‘horrid’ and ‘sick’ with many people calling for the brand to be banned. Founder of ‘Pee Wee Pump’, Michele Holbrook, has stated that the shoes were created to meet the “current and ever-growing popular demand for ‘high-fashion’ in infant apparel”. Demand from whom?
With society becoming more and more image conscious, the babies of today will grow up in a world of selfies, social media and filters. Parents should be doing all they can to protect their children from becoming obsessed with the way they look rather than fuelling this from such a young age.