Clarks withdraw “insulting and sexist” school shoes for girls following backlashs

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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Another day, another eye-roll-inducing episode of sexism for us to contend with.

This time the offender is shoe purveyor Clarks, with the brand announcing that it will no longer be selling its misguided ‘Dolly Babe’ school shoes for girls after becoming embroiled in an internet row over sexism.

The Dolly Babe shoes, which came complete with a pink insole printed with hearts, had been sold alongside the equivalent shoes for boys, which are infuriatingly called ‘Leader’ and have footballs printed on the insoles.

The shoes sparked outrage online, with Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, wading into the row.

“It is almost beyond belief that in 2017 a major company could think this is in any way acceptable,” she tweeted.

“Shows what we are still up against.”

Other politicians also took to Twitter to voice their concern, with Carolyn Harris, shadow minister for women and equalities, stating that the shoes “set the work on equalities in work, sport and education back decades”.

Miranda Williams, a councillor and cabinet member for children and young people in Greenwich, added that she was “appalled”.

There were also hundreds of other furious tweets, with one user writing that the brand was “out of touch, sexist & insulting” while another slammed its “disgusting sexism”.

Clarks responded to the uproar by withdrawing sales of the style from its website and stores, although the Leader shoes are still available.

"We are working hard to ensure our ranges reflect our gender-neutral ethos," the brand reportedly said.

"We apologise for any unintended offence caused.”

However, the shoes can currently still be purchased from retailers including John Lewis and Amazon.

This is the second time the British manufacturer has come under fire for sexism, with a Facebook post written by a frustrated mum blasting the brand for its “inferior” girls’ shoes going viral last week.

Jem Moonie-Dalton wrote that she was “dismayed” following a shopping trip to the brand’s east London store to buy school shoes for her seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old son, after finding that shoes for boys were built for comfort and fun, while shoes for girls were merely made to look stylish.

“In the boys’ section the shoes are sturdy, comfortable and weather proof with soles clearly designed with running and climbing in mind,” she wrote. “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.”

Adding that she was “deeply angered” by the brand’s “persistent discrimination”, she promised to keep sharing her concerns with a “wider audience” – and she has kept her promise, with her post racking up almost 18,000 shares to date.

“I understand, of course, that anyone can choose any style,” she added. 

“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.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Images: Clarks