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Dublin: 19 °C Saturday 21 July, 2018

A woman calling out Clarks Shoes for the sexist marketing of kids footwear for school has gone viral

If you’ve ever walked to school on a rainy day in dolly shoes, you’ll agree.

PastedImage-37258 Source: Clarks Shoes/Facebook

A WOMAN ON Facebook named Jemma Moonie-Dalton wrote a complaint to Clarks Shoes yesterday.

A day later, Jemma’s post has been shared 9,000 times and received 23,000 likes.

She wrote that she was ‘dismayed by the choice of school shoes’ for her daughter in Clarks.

PastedImage-90218 A typical Clarks shoe marketed to young girls. Source: Kildare Village


Of course her child could get more comfortable shoes, but she noted that all of the appropriate shoes are ‘aggressively marketed at boys and clearly not intended for her’, which instills some reservations in her child about choosing them.

PastedImage-94906 A typical Clarks shoe marketed towards young boys. Source: Kildare Village

She went on to point out the differences between the ‘boys’ shoes and the ‘girls’ shoes.

In the boys section the shoes are sturdy, comfortable and weather proof with soles clearly designed with running and climbing in mind.

In contrast, the shoes for girls have inferior soles, are not fully covered and are not well padded at the ankle. They are not comfortable and they are not suited to outdoor activities.

PastedImage-45122 Source: Clarks Shoes/Facebook

If you have ever worn these shoes, you’ll know that she’s absolutely correct. If you so much as look at a puddle while wearing these shoes, your socks get wet.

They fall off easily when walking up stairs, they’re completely inappropriate to run or cycle in and the impossibly thin sole does your back no favours whatsoever.

She questioned the message that is implicitly being sent to young children who feel pressured to wear school shoes like this in order to not seem overly masculine.

Buying school shoes shouldn’t be a stressful experience for kids, however it very often is.

What messages are you giving to my daughter? [...] That she should be satisfied with looking stylish whilst the boys are free to play and achieve in comfort? That she shouldn’t try and compete with boys when they play chasing – girls’ shoes aren’t made for speed, so perhaps girls aren’t either? These messages may not be explicit, but they are there and are insidious.

Of course it is the responsibility of all school shoe retailers to break down the idea that certain items of clothing are gendered, but she points out that Clarks are the market leaders.

As market leaders you have an opportunity to lead the way by designing and marketing shoes for twenty-first century children.

Lots of mothers in the comments below the post were inclined to agree with Jemma, writing comments such as this:

My daughter usually ends up with boots. But yes, I totally agree. The girls school shoes available are dreadful, she usually wants something slip on as the sturdier ones are all ‘babyish’ and she likes running and gymnastics so that’s never going to work!


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About the author:

Kelly Earley

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