What is going on? Yesterday, I wrote about the mother who gave her 8-year-old daughter Botox. And now, I just read an article about how Skechers is marketing their supposedly butt-toning and leg-beautifying Shape-ups shoes to 7-year-old girls, and I burst into tears.
What is happening to our society that makes us put so much pressure on women -- even young girls -- to be beautiful? No wonder we wind up so f-cked up with regard to our bodies!
In response to the negative publicity generated by those who agree that Skechers should not be tapping into the insecurities of young girls and pressuring them to make their butts and legs more beautiful, Leonard Armato, President of Skechers Fitness Group, released this statement:
"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. The Let's Move web site says, 'Physical activity helps control weight, builds lean muscle, reduces fat, promotes strong bone, muscle and joint development and decreases the risk of obesity.' American children are more sedentary now than at any time in our history. Shape-ups' intended purpose is to promote exercise and fitness, which should be viewed as a positive message for kids to get up and get moving. The First Lady's Let's Move campaign also says, 'Everyone has a role to play in reducing childhood obesity, including private sector companies.' Skechers has received some inquiries from journalists who erroneously thought that Shape-ups for Girls was being marketed to pre-school children. This is not the case. Shape-ups for Girls come in sizes 2-6, which is meant for girls approximately 7 to 12 years old, and some even older, depending upon their size."
That’s all well and good -- but the deeper message coming through in their advertising is that a 7-year-old needs to be worried about whether she has a toned ass and shapely legs and that running around in regular gym shoes just ain’t gonna cut it.
As an MD, I can tell you that shoes like Skechers definitely change the way you walk. But is that necessarily good for you? 38-year-old Holly Ward was on Good Morning America announcing that she was suing Skechers. Ward claims that Skechers caused stress fractures in both of her hips, and apparently, others claim similar injuries after wearing the shoes.
Are Skechers good or bad? I don’t know. Certainly millions of adult women have worn these shoes and love them. But do we really want 7-year-olds wearing a shoe that hasn’t been tested on them? And do we want them to come away from watching Skechers ads looking in the mirror to see if their legs are pretty enough?
So please. Moms, for the love of God, don’t let your kids get Botox. And companies, don’t pressure our children to be more beautiful than they already are. As a mother, it’s hard enough already to counteract the hundreds of influences are daughters are exposed to every day from people who reinforce a certain kind of body image that our society deeply values.
My 5-year-old daughter happens to be drop dead gorgeous. She looks exactly the way society wants a child to look -- think Brad and Angelina’s biological children: golden-haired, blue-eyed, pouty-lipped, slim, you catch my drift. Modeling agents stop me in airports and beg me to let them represent my child. (My answer -- HELL NO!)
I cringe when people approach me in grocery stores and tell Siena how gorgeous she is. I ask people to remind her that she’s not only beautiful; she’s also smart, talented, loving, and authentic. For years, I’ve been teaching my daughter that her most valuable attribute is her heart, not her looks.
So the last thing I need is some ad making her wonder if she needs to buy a new shoe in order to look good.
What do you think? Am I overreacting because I’m still fired up about the 8-year-old getting Botox? Or does this rub you the wrong way too? How can we raise our daughters so they don’t obsess about their bodies the way so many do? How can we teach them that there’s more to a person than beauty? I’d love to hear what you think!
Shaking my head,
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Woman coach, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
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