Parents dote on their young kids all the time, as do grandparents and godparents, and there is nothing they won't do for them. Thus, companies take this as an opportunity to market their products to unsuspecting parents, who will make a quick impulse buy for their little ones, all in the name of 'cuteness'.
With parents' obsession with twinning (where you and your baby dress up in matching clothes to look alike), a lot of mini-me apparel and shoes have become available in store shelves and online. You've got mini-dresses, sunglasses, and even socks designed to look like your baby has shoes on. The most recent addition to this array of products is the baby heels -- yes, you read that right.
Pennsylvania-based company Pee Wee Pumps has released high-heeled shoes made specially for babies. Unlike the baby socks with imprinted shoe designs, baby heels are soft, cotton slipper-like shoes with collapsible 'stiletto heels'. Founder Michele Holbrook developed the footwear so that it will "form to your daughter’s foot, whether it’s narrow or wide, while its adjustable strap allows the shoe to stay on and provides a comfortable fit," according to the company's website.
The company, which has been around since 2009 (but only launched the heeled baby shoes in 2014), calls them "infant crib shoes" and can only be worn up to when the baby is six months old. At that age, babies would just be starting to crawl, so the baby heels are really for style purposes only. Their marketing campaign targets moms who are “fashion-forward" and their babies who wish to make their "first fashion statement." Designs include pink, black, red, and animal prints with trendy names such as "Pretty in Pink, " "Diva" and "Sassy."
When Let Clothes Be Clothes (LCBC) shared a link to Pee Wee Pumps' website on Facebook, it did not get the cute, melting "awe’s" but rather comments that express disgust, disbelief, and anger, mostly about the way the company is marketing its product. LCBC is a group that calls the attention of U.K. retailers to change how they design and sell children's clothing. On the babies' boudoir-themed photos featured on the website, one user commented, "This is sexualisation of children." Another user wrote, "Sorry but this is sick. Children should be allowed to be children and not dressed up like hookers!"
Holbrook was quick to defend her product, stressing that it does not harm babies' feet. She told Todaythat the reason they’re only for six-month-olds is because the heels are not intended for walking. As for the accusation that it sexualizes infants, Holbrook said that they put too much thought into it. "Truly, in the grand scheme of things, when it all boils down to it, it's just a photo prop," she said. "To say something about that is a bit harsh -- it’s like putting a baby into a cute romper or tutu -- it’s an accessory, and there’s no more to it," Holbrook told Footwear News.
This is not the first time that children’s clothing has caused an uproar, but only a few of the controversial clothes and shoes for kids had been actually pulled out of the market. What do you think? Are these stilettos harmful to babies, or are they just a styling prop and nothing more?