These Shape Ups are Sketchy

Skechers Shape Ups AdYou’ve probably seen ads for toning shoes that promise to make you healthier, leaner, and happier, but have you heard the latest in the toning shoe craze? Skechers Shape-ups for Girls… pink and glittery toning shoes designed for girls as young as 7 or 8. I don’t know about you, but I think Sketchers has gone too far.

The president of Skechers Fitness Group claims that the company is trying to send a positive message about fitness. He says that the product was designed to encourage kids to get moving, just like Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative. If these shoes were truly designed to promote physical activity, I have two questions:

  1. Why are there no Shape-ups for Boys?
  2. Can’t girls be active wearing their regular sneakers?

Shape-ups for Girls send the message to young girls that their bodies aren’t OK the way they are and that exercise is something they should do for appearance reasons. Even worse, the cartoon girl in the Shape-ups for Girls commercial is being followed by 3 boys, one dressed as a cupcake, one as a donut, and the other as a hot dog. Now I’m no expert in advertising, but it seems to me that this image is telling young girls that they should be active to look good for boys, or if they’re feeling guilty about eating a not-so-healthy food. Why would a company like Skechers want girls to feel this way? The answer is simple. When girls and women feel badly about themselves, the beauty, fitness, and fashion industries profit.

When I first saw the Shape-ups for Girls commercial, I thought of my fantastic, soon-to-be 8 year old niece who is in the target market for this product. My niece grew up appreciating that being active is FUN, especially when you do it with friends or family. In the happy moments that she is running around the yard, balancing on a beam, or kicking a soccer ball, I’m grateful that she’s NOT thinking about how these activities might help her legs look more “toned”. That thought doesn’t belong in the minds of young girls.

You can still buy Shape-ups for Girls in stores, but the company has taken down the web page for the product after getting flooded with complaints from angry parents. I’m hopeful that Skechers will stop selling Shape-ups for Girls, but the way that advertisers target young girls and teens probably isn’t going to change anytime soon. In the meantime, try not to be swayed by products and advertisements that tell you that you are not OK the way you are. And, when you exercise, I hope you do it because of the way it makes you feel, not because of the way it makes you look.

-Nutritionist Kendrin