A mum of twins was shopping for school shoes for her young twins recently when she made an ‘appalling’ discovery.
Miranda Williams, a Labour councillor, was outraged that Clarks labelled its girls school shoes ‘Dolly Babe’ while the boys’ range is called ‘Leader’ and sparked a huge online debate citing ‘everyday sexism’.
“The idea that we should be bringing up a generation of boys to aspire to become leaders while the best hope for girls is to be Dolly Babes is just grim,” Miranda told The Sunday Times. “It makes me so angry. It’s bad enough that girls’ shoes are so flimsy and so unsuitable for jumping in puddles or climbing trees compared to boys’ shoes, which are so much more robust. But to create such a stereotype is totally unacceptable.”
The girls’ shoes are adorned with a heart-patterned insole and the boys’ are decorated with footballs – blatant gender stereotypes, so you can see why the woman has got upset.
And it even rubbed some other politicians up the wrong way – Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for North East Somerset, also criticised Clarks.
"It's wrong in all sorts of ways"
“To call a pair of shoes for a girl Dolly Babe is dreadful. It’s wrong in all sorts of ways ... this is just really silly,” he told the BBC, while Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the situation ‘unacceptable’ and ‘almost beyond belief in 2017’.
As a result of the furore, Clarks later said it was removing the Dolly Babe shoe, describing it as an ‘old and discontinued line’ from its stores.
But it wasn’t actually the first time the shoe shop has been accused of sexism. Earlier this year, a mum complained that Clarks’ girls shoes weren’t comfortable or ‘not suited to outdoor activities in British weather.’
Meanwhile, she claimed that the boys’ shoes were sturdier and meant for outdoor activities.
In response to this, Clarks tweeted that the company has a ‘gender neutral ethos’ and that they were phasing out the range of shoes.
Unfortunately for this shoe shop, they’ve failed to impress a lot of people with their recent marketing strategies and while I do think they should have been aware of the outcome and expect a little feedback from it, I can’t help thinking that all the online outrage this latest incident has caused is a little bit too much.
Nowadays parents are appalled at something on a weekly basis
It seems that nowadays a parent is appalled and shocked at something they deem to be sexist in a shop on a weekly basis. Am I the only one who thinks that shoes are shoes and the name of it isn’t that important?
I must admit that whenever I buy something, I buy it if I like it and think it will serve its purpose well, I don’t particularly give a hoot about what it’s called or what picture it has on it, I care about what is most going to give me value for money.
The most important thing in this case is that regardless of whether they are a boy or a girl, all children should be offered sturdy and weatherproof shoes.
Buying your child a shoe called ‘Leader’ is not necessarily going to mean they grow up to be a leader, and the same is true for a ‘Dolly Babe’, whatever that might be.