How young is too young to start wearing high heels?
There’s a brand in the US that make soft, cotton slippers in the shape of stilettos for babies up to six months old, and a whole heap of mums aren’t happy about it.
The Pee Wee Pump shoes, as they are known, come in a range of animal print styles and are advertised on the brand’s website with photos of babies draped in pearls, feathers and leopard-print nappy covers.
While they have been around for a few years, a recent Facebook post on the kids’ clothing watchdog page Let Clothes Be Clothes, has blasted the controversial brand and sparked quite the fuss.
Many mothers promptly expressed their concerns that the shoes — and the boudoir scenes in which they’re showcased — contribute to the sexualisation of babies.
“You have to be kidding me! Sorry but this is sick! Children should be allowed to be children & not dressed up to look like hookers!” one parent said on Facebook.
“Creepy and ridiculous in equal measure,” another wrote.
A third said, “Do they realise that the reason heeled shoes are perceived as sexy is because the heel forces the wearer to walk with chest/buttocks out for balance and an exaggerated arch in the foot mimicking (apparently) feet during orgasm.”
The shoes, which retail for AU$20 to $33 a pair, also have provocative names — yet another issue pointed out by angry parents on social media — such as ‘Glamorous’, ‘Wild Child’, and ‘Sassy’.
While some mums were absolutely incensed at the sexual implications of putting stilettos on small babies, others simply couldn’t fathom the practical implications of the pumps.
“Apart from the tremendously worrying sexualisation of children such products contribute to, I don’t even want to know the effects these shoes would have on small, developing feet,” wrote one appalled Facebook user.
But her concerns about the effect on feet don’t necessarily have merit, as the company insists that the shoes are only meant for photo opportunities and are sized for pre-ambulatory babies.
An article in Footwear News quotes Pee Wee Pumps owner Michele Holbrook saying, “The shoes are not made for walking and sizes only go up to six months, ‘when babies start to crawl’.”
The shoes have Velcro straps and come with faux heels — extensions of the slipper, which are filled with cotton, says Footwear News. The footwear is “collapsible with pressure” and “poses no endangerment” to the infant, Holbrook told the publication.
“To me, my Pee Wee Pumps are nothing more than the cute headbands or adorable baby rompers parents put on their babies,” she added.
Still, parents aren’t buying it, literally and figuratively, asking, “WTF is wrong with people” in as many ways as possible.
But Holbrook says this isn’t the first time there’s been an uproar about her product.
“They did it last May and it went out of control,” she told Footwear News, adding, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity; if it brings attention, it’ll help you.”