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Skechers Markets Butt-Toning Shoe to 7-Year-Old Girls

Lissa Rankin's picture

sketchers markets 7 year old

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!

The Message

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?

Absolutely not.

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.

Can we value the INside?

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.



Lissa Rankin's picture

Thanks Michelle

I think modern dance is better that way also (I did it- along with ballet and many other dance forms) when I was a girl.

And wow- circus school sounds AWESOME!

Michelle Wallace's picture

body-healthy dance

I was thinking that modern dance is supposed be appreciative of the body, plus it's a lot more creative too. Also, I'm awaiting until she's 7-8 when I can enroll her in circus school. I'm not sure if you have this in your area but it looks and sounds amazing! Aerial silks, trampoline, trapeze... it's about fun and flying!

I know someone who volunteered for an expensive private school for summer camp. Where all of the 12 yr old girls were worried about the calories they were consuming. Well, thankfully all the camp counselors sat down with them and educated them on proper nutrition NOT calorie counting. I do agree with Patrice that it starts with the parents. We have to educate our children in what makes a healthy body. We have to educate them in loving themselves rather than basing their self-love on what society or the media believes.

It's been about a year since I stepped on a scale. For both my daughter and myself. My daughter doesn't know what a scale is.

Pauline's picture

this is ridiculous.

this is ridiculous. absolutely. And I plan on blogging about the same subject because it just cuts a really deep nerve with me. Add this to the list of items including schools adding BMI grades to student report cards and you have my reasons for sometimes wishing I could bitch-slap society.

Brittany's picture

I am confused by this

Are these BMI grade like a real grade affecting GPA or is this a way to make you aware of your child health?

Lissa Rankin's picture

I feel you Michelle

I am waffling over the same issue regarding ballet. I did ballet my entire childhood and bordered on anorexia because my ballet teacher would rap on my skinny belly with a hard stick if it puffed out at all. I may find a more free form, body-healthy type of dance to enroll her in, even though I think she'd really enjoy ballet, as I did. Any suggestions?

Michelle Wallace's picture

First I wanted to mention

First I wanted to mention that these 'shape up' sneakers should have a lot more testing done on them. With these types of shoes you would be working your glutes a lot more, and constantly. As a Registered Massage Therapist, I massage incredibly tight glutes almost daily. Tight glutes that have now compressed the sciatic nerve, giving them sciatic pain down their leg, clients who can't sleep because their glutes hurt so much, who find it hard getting up from sitting because they work them too often. It's the fat that has to be lost, not the toning of the glute muscle. We use, hence tone, the glutes every time we walk, every time we get up from sitting, even. So, of course, eating healthy, walking, being active is going to make you lose fat. Do we have to use our glutes 10 times more than we do? I dunno.

And in response to the main subject in question. That is the main reason I'm waffling on whether or not to enroll my 4 year old in Ballet. She loves ballerinas and we recently went to see a ballet on stage. But knowing what they go through to stay light as a feather and to stand en pointe. Do I want her growing up, weighing herself, watching her calories to make sure she's thin enough compared to the other girls in her class? Not really.

Patrice's picture

Hello, Parents


You point to the company, but let's face it: They're going to make Shape-Ups for kids if there's a market. Parents need to wake up. If these things don't sell, Skechers will stop making them.

As a parent, it seems that everyday, a new hurdle approaches. My messages and those being sent by society just don't jive. But I'm sticking to my guns. For years I've ignored Shape-Ups in favor of swimming, yoga and just plain walking the dog. I understand that they force different muscles to work, but come on ladies, just exercise the old fashioned way. It works. I did not know about the new marketing campaign directed at young girls. Rest assured, my girls won't get a pair.

So, where does that leave me? Back to the same place I started. Constantly preaching to them that they SHALL value themselves for being thoughtful, generous, intelligent, compassionate, interesting, hopeful, funny, spirited, talented, athletic.....or whatever adjective works at the time. They shall not value themselves based on their body size, shape or appearance. They are beautiful girls (of course, I'm biased, I know) and I tell them all the time they are gorgeous, but then I follow up with "pretty girls are a dime a dozen. What matters is what's in here," point to their heart and them attack them with hugs and kisses.

Jessie Matthews's picture

so sad ...

I remember the pressure to be pretty when I was little. It started at birth when my mom and all the other moms got together to compare babies. Who had the most hair? Who had the prettiest eyes? Who was the most well behaved? And the pressure just got more intense as I entered school and found out that chubby girls weren't allowed to have friends or to play with everyone else or even be treated with kindness. But at least I wasn't being pushed to be a hard-drinking sex bomb on top of all the ostracism and fat hatred.

When I posted this on Facebook a few minutes ago, I captioned it with: "Yesterday - Botox for 8-year-olds, Today - Butt toning shoes for 7-year-olds, Tomorrow - Pole dancing lessons for 6-year-olds."

The pressure, not only to be pretty but also to be sexy, is being forced on girls at a younger and younger age. And the message is very clear - your value as a woman isn't in how smart you are or how kind you are to other people, it's in how good you'll look in a swim suit. Thankfully, there are a lot of wonderful people out there fighting against the tide!

Anonymous's picture

File this under the same

File this under the same category as Abercrombie & Fitch marketing push-up padded bikini tops and suggestion underwear (e.g. thongs with sexy sayings) to children of the same age. Absolutely deplorable.

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