May 17th, 2011
Do 7-year-olds need Skechers butt-toning Shape-ups?
If, like Kerry Campbell, you’d consider giving your elementary-school-aged child Botox injections, then Skechers new Shape-up toning shoes for girls probably won’t offend your sensibilities. But many parents are taking exception to the company’s latest product line—currently appearing in ads on the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.
In the commercials, an animated girl bounces around singing about “looking good and having fun” because “Heidi’s got new Shape-ups.” Meanwhile, a series of sad looking boys dressed as hot dogs and cup cakes chase Heidi who—thanks to her Skechers—is able to outrun the evil temptation that is food and/or boys.
While we make it a general rule to run away from anyone dressed as a food item, the ad is troubling because the shoes are targeted at girls as young as seven years old. And, let’s not forget that Shape-ups—as described on the company’s own website—are designed to tone the derriere and leg muscles using “enhanced resistance training and accelerated muscle activation.”
Is this something kids really need to be concerned about at seven?
In a statement, Skechers defended the shoes, writing:
“The whole message behind Shape-ups is to get people moving, exercising and getting fit. Skechers advertising for Shape-ups for girls contains the same messaging being used by the First Lady’s ‘Let’s Move’ initiative, which is aimed specifically at children. Shape-ups intended purpose is to promote exercise and fitness, which should be viewed as a positive message to get kids up and moving.”
We’re not convinced Michelle Obama would agree. In fact, we’re thinking that if Skechers was primarily concerned with getting kids moving it could just as easily market a sneaker that is just a sneaker and not an already well-established sub-brand associated with getting a more shapely rear end.
“The real comedy here is Skechers’ trying to hide behind the First Lady’s anti-obesity campaign, as if encouraging children to enjoy physical activity and lead healthier lifestyles is equivalent to instilling a mortal fear of cupcakes, and demanding the purchase of unnecessary and overpriced shoes, just to make you look a certain way,” clinical psychologist and mental health advice columnist Andrea Bonior tells Zap2it.com. “This is about profit and the objectification of girls’ bodies, plain and simple. Skechers wouldn’t dare do a similar campaign for boys—because they know exactly what they’re really selling. And no little girl needs it.”