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“Near the forfront of the next generation of parenting tools...Red Tricycle is not your mother's parenting aide. Readers are razr-phone-toting, book-club-joining moms who at least know what a blackberry is."

Seattle Post Intelligencer April 2006

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Sarah F. - Redmond

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High Heels for Babies - Funny or Exploitive?

In Tuesday’s newsletter, we told you about a company founded by two Seattle moms called Heelarious. The concept: fun, fake high heels for babies 0 - six months old. Obviously, with the company’s name and product description, they don’t take their concept too seriously.

But on various message boards across the blogosphere, the feedback has been less than positive about this frivolous gift. One RT reader was horrified that we’d recommend these, “Um seriously? The sexualization of our daughters is so pervasive these days, I think maybe people don’t even realize how this product really isn’t clever or funny. They don’t seem too different from the horrible thong underwear marketed to 7 year olds by Abercrombie and Fitch or the appalling idea of making Pussycat Dolls for the preschool set. And I thought targeting preschoolers was surprising, now it’s babies!”

We feel this product falls into the gag gift category (i.e. “boob man” t-shirts, or the “diva” onsie) — gimmicky, but essentially harmless entertainment primarily designed for sleep-deprived moms (those first six months aren’t always fun and games) rather than kids.

Full disclosure: Our kids are of the male variety so perhaps we’ve been naive to the sexploitation of little girls.

What say you, Seattle parents, of baby high heels? Silly shower gift or Britney Spears-inspiring insanity?

14 Responses to “High Heels for Babies - Funny or Exploitive?”

  1. seamom Says:

    I have to agree that I find these shoes totally offensive and not in the least bit funny.

  2. seacat Says:

    At first glance I thought “this is over the top and a bit gross” but after considering the name ‘heelarious’ It doesn’t seem to me that the company was taking themselves that seriously.

  3. redmondmom Says:

    I would never buy them for my daughters. I’m sure there’s a market for a funny baby gift like this for certain people, but if I had received it, it’d be at the back of the closet never to be seen again.

  4. lizgallagher Says:

    My take on Heelarious booties is that they’re made and sold in good spirit. Especially after reading the founders’story I get that these are made by high-heel lovin’ women, for fashionista moms to get a kick out of. I see them as a pop-culture item and I think they would’ve made a fun prop in the Sex & the City movie! That said, I wouldn’t give them to a mom who’s looking for necessities; I’d gift them as an extravagant extra something to the same kind of Mom I think would appreciate a Baby Bling pacifier.

  5. bbaiss Says:

    I’m not the type to buy frivolous gifts like these but hey, its funny for a baby shower for the right mom or as a gag gift. Lighten up everyone. Its not serious. If it was the sizes would go higher than 6 months to 6-12 months, 12-18 months, etc.. How many 6 month olds know what they are wearing anyway. Its for the parents sense of humor — if they indeed think this is funny. Captialism in a free-market isn’t ever politically correct.

  6. cforte Says:

    I never buy gag gifts because I think they are a waste of money. I much rather get a mom something that she can really use. Plus I don’t even get why it’s “funny”. High heels for babies…is that really funny? Hmmm…I think it’s a stretch. Do they come in colors for baby boys as well? Now that might make me laugh. Christina

  7. simonsk Says:

    I thought these were a cute idea and am surprised other moms consider high heels “sexual”? As a short-legged woman, I have always considered high heels the image equivalent of a good haircut or a pair of well-fitting pants…they just make you look a little better. They’re fun. If you’re against (faux) high heels for babies, are you also against animal prints or mini skirts or shorts above the knee or anything else that may have ever been “sexualized” somewhere at some time? No question - our little girls are growing up in a challenging world. But they need us to help them navigate, keep things in perspective and , yes, keep a sense of humor - not over-react.

  8. fuzzy Says:

    I am really surprized that people would be in such an uproar over these! Did you go to their website and read their story before judging or critisizing them? Did you read that they are not real heels, they are basically soft shoes made to look like heels. It makes me realize that people need to loosen up and have a sense of humor!

  9. ubimom Says:

    While I realize these shoes were created in good fun, they still send a message that it is “cute” and “fun” to see little girls dressed as grown-ups. I had the same reaction to these “gag” shoes that I do when I see a string bikini with triangles for the top in my five year old daughter’s size (and come to think of it, I saw one in my 15th month old daughter’s size today at Babies R Us). I’m not a big fan of animal print or sassy messages about being a diva or brat on kids clothes either. These shoes are just another thing that chips away at kids being kids.

  10. cs250 Says:

    As the owner of a baby related business, I come up against this issue frequently. More than once I have been asked by the buyers of certain types of boutiques, especially in markets like NY and CA to add “edgier” product to our mix.

    Products that look very adult or have ironic copy or images appeal to parents looking to avoid what they perceive as the overly prissy aesthetic of the past. Some of these products are well done, but in other cases the line is drawn less than tastefully.

    Its great to see a public discussion of this issue. I look forward to hearing more of it.

  11. moody_mama Says:

    I’m the mother of both a son and a daughter, and on occasion, I’ve purchased onesies or t-shirts with fun sayings for both babies (a “Got Milk?” romper comes to mind). But I find a difference between items that promote positive, healthy things (like breastfeeding) in a funny, irreverent way, and those that send a more negative or questionable message. I don’t buy my daughter shirts that say “Diva”, “Princess”, etc. but I would buy her one that claimed she will be the first or next female president (a positive aspiration vs. a negative one). When I first saw the newsletter promoting these fake high heels for babies, I frowned and closed the email. I’m not outraged, but I’m also not interested or thrilled to see these even as novelty items. (I don’t think anyone mistook them for “real” high heels!) Maybe because I’m not sure of the message it sends (even novelty items are symbolic of something). Maybe because as the mother of a 19-month-old daughter, I already dread the day that she will (all too soon) be judged or measured on her appearance, want to wear something too revealing or “grown up”, or just form the opinion that she has to look a certain way to be considered attractive and sexy. I guess I would not want a visual reminder of all of that when she is just a baby. Maybe that’s why they rub me the wrong way. I think it’s an interesting discussion to read all of the various opinions. Just thought I’d offer mine.

  12. tjnjaj Says:

    As a mother of a 7 month old, I consider myself quite thoughtful of what my little girl wears as well as where and with whom she plays. That being said, I thought these shoes were in good fun. While I haven’t bought any, I can see the humor. If it’s just not funny to you, that’s ok too. I just don’t think these shoes should be taken so seriously.

  13. fremontmama Says:

    Moody Mama, you have verbalized exactly how I feel about these “shoes”. I couldn’t have put it better myself. I understand the attempt at humor and realize completely they are not “real” high heels. I just really think they are not funny for all the reasons Moody Mama stated. Thanks for being so eloquent MM!

  14. lwahlfeldt Says:

    Well, I think they’re incredibly funny. Since they only go up to 6 months it’s clear that it’s a gag. Consider this, when you dress your daughter up in a silly ladybug jacket or hat you’re not trying to inspire her to grow up to be an insect are you? Why is a ladybug jacket or hat funny but this isn’t? Curious….

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