‘What messages are you giving to my daughter?’ Mum hits out at Clarks over their shoe offering for girls and boys

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  • A mum has called out Clarks over their shoe offering for girls compared to what they offer boys in a Facebook post that has since gone viral.

    Jemma Moonie-Dalton, a mum from London, took to social media to express her disappointment with the brand after trying to buy new school shoes for her seven-year-old daughter.

    In the post published on 8th August, which has since had over 12k shares and 5k comments, the mum explained how the shoes marketed for girls do not offer the same comfort and support as the ones marketed for boys.

    ‘Yet again I am dismayed by the choice of school shoes for my daughter in Clarks. I understand, of course, that anyone can choose any style – but children are not stupid, and my 7 year old daughter does not want to choose shoes from a section aggressively marketed at boys and clearly not intended for her’, the mum’s post read.

    Jemma says shoes aimed at boys are ‘sturdy, comfortable and weather proof’, whereas the shoes marketed for girls are ‘not comfortable and are not suited to outdoor activities in British weather’.

    ‘In the boy’s section the shoes are sturdy, comfortable and weather proof with soles clearly designed with running and climbing in mind.

    ‘In contrast, the girls’ shoes have inferior soles, are not fully covered and are not well padded at the ankle. They are not comfortable and are not suited to outdoor activities in British weather’, she says.

    Jemma then carries on to ask what message this gap in the offering sends to her young daughter and other little girls everywhere, accusing Clarks of ‘persistent discrimination’.

    ‘What messages are you giving to my daughter? That she doesn’t deserve shoes that put her on ‘equal footing’ with her male peers? That she should be satisfied with looking stylish whilst the boys are free to play and achieve in comfort? That she shouldn’t try and compete with boys when they play chase; girls’ shoes aren’t made for speed, so perhaps girls aren’t either?

    ‘These messages may not be explicit, but they are there, and are insidious.

    ‘I am deeply angered by Clarks persistent discrimination. As market leaders you have an opportunity to lead the way by designing and marketing shoes for twenty-first century children.

    ‘I look forward to your detailed consideration of my letter, and until I hear a satisfactory response I will be sharing my concerns with a wide audience.’

    Jem Moonie-Dalton

    Jem Moonie-Dalton added a new photo.

    Many parents echoed Jemma’s worries, commenting on her post to say they’ve had the same experience when shopping for their daughters.

    One mum wrote: ‘I agree, when my daughter was at school….she’s 21 now, the choice was terrible and I always thought boys got the better choice.’

    Another wrote of the shoes pictured in Jemma’s post: ‘Pretty they may be but appalling for the short and long term health of feet. Our feet carry us through our life and need to be cared for.’

    A third said: ‘They are def not designed for girls who like to use their scooters to scoot to school!!!’

    However, some users dismissed the mum’s concerns and told her to look for different products elsewhere.

    ‘That’s not the only shoe that Clark’s sells, there are options for a more sturdy shoe. Just shop somewhere else’, one wrote.

    The company responded to the mum in a post on Facebook, saying they are ‘very much of the gender neutral ethos that anyone can choose any style as long as they fit correctly.’

    Clarks also said they are planning to expand their unisex ranges to cater for all children equally.

    ‘As a large global company, it is not always possible to implement some of the changes that we want to make as quickly as we would like.

    ‘Due to the product development timeline we were not able to expand the range as much as we would have liked for this year, but we are changing the ranges and the ways in which they are marketed and hope that you and your daughter like the changes we make in the future.’

    It’s not the first time Clarks has been criticised by parents for not providing suitable school shoes for girls.

    Earlier this year, a mum also took to Clarks’ Facebook page after a shopping trip to complain about the lack of choice of adequate footwear in the girls’ shoe department.