The company Pee Wee Pumps is a prime example of the maxim “Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.” I first became aware of PWP from an article on the BBC website. For once I don’t appear to be the only one appalled. This is a novel experience, indeed!
I thought we were worried that “society” is teaching little girls their main purpose in life is to be “sexy” and “glamorous”. Apparently we’re not worried enough, as Michele Holbrook (a woman from the sound of it and therefore someone who should know better), has founded a company whose purpose appears to be providing babies with high heels.
You could argue that since these shoes are meant only for babies up to six months old, it’s not really training because these little ones won’t know the difference. I would argue otherwise: any girl who has a mother who thinks these shoes are “cute” is going to be bombarded with misplaced and ridiculous expectations her whole life.
Ms. Holbrook says in the BBC article that her products “are not intended for walking, but rather to meet the current and ever-growing popular demand for ‘high-fashion’ in infant apparel”.
High fashion infant apparel? High fashion infant apparel should constitute child abuse. Babies need to be warm, clean and comfortable in clothes that let them move and don’t itch or scratch. Period. End of story. Babies should be given the dignity of looking like the sweet little innocent bundles they are, not some perverted cartoon version of a diva.
They don’t need to be tricked out in fake gems, feathers, sequins, gold or tutus. They don’t need to wear a pair of shoes called “Swanky” with a description that begins: Your baby girl may still be a long way from working on her swanky swagger, but the Swanky High Heeled Crib Shoes will have her looking stylish until she’s ready to strut herself. Is Ms. Holbrook so tone deaf that she thinks it’s just fine to talk about a baby learning to strut herself?
On the one hand we protect modern children as they grow up from every conceivable danger, every challenge, every hurt, every consequence. They all get trophies. They have all their time scheduled. They are never out of sight. Psychologically we keep them infants. We totally de-skill them for what used to be called adult life.
On the other hand, we allow graphic sexual and violent images and music in our children’s lives (because, we tell ourselves, we can’t protect them from everything…) We dress little ones as miniature prostitutes and gangbangers. Take a trip through any children’s clothing department if you don’t believe me. Note the sleazy materials, the provocative cuts, the slogans on the tee shirts. Now try to find something appropriate to dress a five year old in – so that he or she will look like an actual five year old. Not a twenty- or thirty-five year old. We completely rob them of their childhood innocence. We pretend they are little adults.
In short, we severely limit experiences in places we should be allowing more and more freedom; and we allow too much freedom where there should be severe limits. This is decidedly backwards. And heartbreaking.