Shoes, Blues and Independence

I took my 4yo shoe shopping today. In the Trafford Centre during the school holidays. *That* was a stupid idea. But, given we need a school uniform (that’s a whole different post), and given she seems to be in the middle of a growth spurt, it was necessary.

We started off by having her feet measured. Clarks have this odd i-pad type device that slots into the measuring machine to do the measuring. She could put her gender and her age into the machine too (I’m not quite sure why). On the screen was a boy (Jack) in blue, and a girl (Daisy) in pink. My 4yo asked why there were two people on it. Our sales assistant instantly said ‘so you can put in you’re a girl. You wouldn’t want to be a boy would you?’ with negative emphasis placed on ‘boy’.

She chose the blue; ‘because I like blue’.

This pleased me so much. Not because I don’t want her to like pink. She can have all the pink she likes. And last week she couldn’t get enough of pink and purple. This week she loves blue (but only light blue), yellow and green. I just love the fact that she didn’t get squashed into choosing what she thought she should, based on the adult’s influence.

It continued. She tried on a pair of shoes, and immediately said they were too tight. Sales assistant said ‘but they look so pretty’. Later we had ‘but they have a loveheart on the front’. She’s 4 for heaven’s sake, what’s a loveheart got to do with anything?

She stuck to her guns, and we got a pair of shoes that fit her and are comfortable.

I hope that I can continue to foster that independence as she grows up, even when she has grown ups and peers around her who try to narrow her options.  

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4 responses to “Shoes, Blues and Independence

  1. You kept your cool with inane shop assistant? Well done to you both. My 8 year old would have been magnificently scornful of his/her utterances.

    • The trouble is it was all done so ‘nicely’. The clear differences in gender styles, and the pink and blue avatars are all part of such a big marketing divide for kids. He wasn’t being difficult at all and thought he was being very lovely to her. But, he either hadn’t come across many children who are willing to like both pink and blue, or parents who think looking pretty isn’t the primary focus for a 4 year old. 4yo and I did our best to challenge those assumptions.

  2. Aside from the issues you raise so eloquently, the big thing that pisses me off about kids’ shoes is that the boy versions are clearly geared towards adventure (big, well-gripped soles) whereas the girl versions have thin soles with no grip whatsoever! I remember really struggling to find my daughter a pair of shoes which would go with her adventurous personality. Guess what? Ended up buying a pair of ‘boy’ boots.

    • Thank you.
      And thanks for commenting. It’s so true. Girls shoes are useless for exploring. And climbing and running and jumping. It’s one of the reasons I was so angry at the report this week about kids not getting enough exercise – especially girls. We spend our whole time telling girls to look pretty, and mock girls who are too sporty by telling them they are boy-ish, unfeminine etc and then wonder why they are too sedentary. Makes me so furious.

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