Sexism within Clarks’ girl shoes collection has gained a lot of media attention recently. This is a deep rooted problem within society that goes beyond shoes.
The ‘Dolly Babe’
In 2017 you don’t expect to find discrimination as obvious as the recently publicised sexism within Clarks’ girl shoes collection.
I was horrified to read that Clarks had actually had named one of their girls’ styles ‘Dolly Babe’. What made it worse was that the equivalent shoe in their boys’ collection was named ‘Leader’.
Sorry girls it’s our boys who should become leaders you just sit there and look pretty. For such a mainstream UK brand to have such a backward attitude both sadddens and infuriates me.
Is it any wonder that by the age of 6 some girls believe that “brilliance is a male trait”?
Just Choose Something Else
Scrolling through my Facebook feed a few of my ‘friends’ weighed in with their opinions and I didn’t agree with the majority.
One person commented on a link I shared saying that if girls don’t like the styles on offer to them that they should just choose from the boys collection instead. Problem solved.
I know from experience that as a young girl this is not as simple as it seems. The problem is that as a society we are conditioned into thinking that boys and girls want/like different things. From a very early age we teach our children that boys like blue and girls like pink, demonstrated by any newborn baby clothes collection in any high street or supermarket store.
When I began secondary school I chose shoes and trousers from the boys’ section. The first few weeks were fine, everyone was busy forming friendship groups and no-one noticed that I looked any different to the other girls.
Then one day someone on the school bus noticed my clothes and shoes, coupled with my love of sport – football in particular, they started calling me a ‘bloke’. They even nicknamed me ‘Jim’. Luckily it was mostly contained to the school bus, but it still meant that I endured it on most days. In the end I just tried to conform; we bought ‘girls’ shoes and trousers and I tried to keep a low profile. It made no difference, however, it stuck with me until the bullies left school at 16.
I’m sure that what I endured is not uncommon for children who don’t conform. This is why choosing anything labelled for your opposite gender is not an easy choice for a child or teenager.
Another person suggested that most boys want the kind of shoes being produced with them in mind and that most girls want the styles of shoes produced with them in mind. Therefore Clarks should not have to alter their ranges to suit a minority.
The question is do most girls want traditional girl styles or is it that they have no alternative other than what are marketed as ‘boys’?
The same could also be said of boys. As I mentioned earlier, we programmed from a very early age to think that boys and girls like different things.
If children aren’t given alternatives how do they really know what they like? There may be some children who prefer styles marketed to the other gender but are afraid to be ‘different’ because, lets be honest, most kids want to fit in with their peers or risk being bullied.
Another story concerning Clark’s shoes was the difference in quality between boys and girls styles.
One mother publicly complained that girls styles are often flimsy, lack grip on their soles and often don’t cover their full foot. Thus making them unsuitable for running around and any wet weather. So if girls want to run around during their break times they need to carry a spare pair of shoes with them.
Why Does Sexism Within Clarks’ Girl Shoes Collection Matter?
Sexism within Clarks’ girl shoes collection is a symptom of a much bigger issue with society. True equality begins with our children. We need to stop treating them differently based only on their genitals. When you think of it like this the concept of gender stereotypes really is bizarre.
Sexism within Clarks’ girl shoes collection matters because all children, including boys, deserve to have the same choices and opportunities.
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The images used in this post were sourced from Pixabay