Sophia Trow and her mom were shopping for shoes together at a Clarks in England and looking for a very specific pair of sneakers: the Stomposaurus shoes. "I really want dinosaur shoes because they leave footprints in the sand and mud," she told the Daily Mail. Totally valid reason to want shoes — fun sneaker tracks were my favorite part of shoe buying when I was a kid too. These sound even cooler, though, because people will think a dinosaur's loose! Here's what the sneakers Sophia wanted look like:
Unfortunately, because we still live in a world heavily influenced by gender stereotypes, these kicks are labeled as "boys'" shoes. So when Sophia decided she wanted them, the sales associate told her they weren't for her, because they didn't support her "feminine bone structure." That's like saying girls can't play football because their arms can't throw like guys' arms! While completely ridiculous, it makes sense why these stereotypes continue to stand strong in our society — it's a pervasive cycle.
However, while many little girls (and boys) might've been destroyed by this, Sophia refused to back down. She wrote the shoe company a strongly worded but reasonably polite letter:
My daughter Sophia takes on 'sexist' Clarks to demand dinosaur shoes for girls http://t.co/XCEyXud8nZ— Jane Trow (@jane_trow) March 5, 2015
How about that for a complaint letter? She explains her issue explicitly, and her question is totally valid and reasonable. She also sent the multinational company a thoughtful tweet:
"Dear Clarks, I don't like how girls have flowery shoes — I like dinosaurs and fossils, so I think that other girls might as well."
Her mother chimed in as well with a tweet of her own saying, "My daughter has written you a letter about your sexist shoes. Not all girls want to be pretty princesses." She expressed her frustration with these gender roles imposed on girls by such companies to the Daily Mail. "I don't want them hampered by expectations that tell them how they should behave as girls — I want them to be able to do whatever they want to do and become strong women." Amen, Mrs. Trow!
Thankfully Clarks made an appropriate response.
"We are sorry to hear that Sophia was informed these shoes aren’t suitable for girls. The Stomposaurus range can safely be worn by all children. We are also developing a broader range of unisex styles which will be available from Autumn/Winter this year." Well done, Clarks. Even if unisex styles weren't in your original production plan, you may just wind up with a much larger fan base because of them.
And Sophia, you keep on standing up for what you believe, because girl, we are right behind you. Hopefully in a cool monster T-shirt. While gender stereotypes are taking their time changing, it's feminists like you who are pushing them forward in a big way.
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