Clarks have come under fire for their limited choices for girls' school shoes, after one mum blasted them on social media.
The mum in question, Jemma Moonie-Dalton, posted directly onto their Facebook page, slamming their offerings for her daughter and saying that they're just not good enough.
The post, which has now been shared over 13,000 times, compares the girls' shoes in the shop to boys' shoes, observing that the boys' shoes are much sturdier and durable than girls' shoes.
She wrote: "Yet again I am dismayed by the choice of school shoes for my daughter in Clarks. I understand, of course, that anyone can choose any style – 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.
"In the boys' section the shoes are sturdy, comfortable and weather-proof with soles clearly designed with running and climbing in mind. 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."
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"What messages are you giving to my daughter? That she doesn't deserve shoes that put her on equal 'footing' with her male peers? That she should be satisfied with looking stylish whilst the boys are free to play and achieve in comfort? That she shouldn't try and compete with boys when they play chase – girls' shoes aren't made for speed, so perhaps girls aren't either? These messages may not be explicit, but they are there, and are insidious.
"I am deeply angered by Clarks' persistent discrimination. As market leaders you have an opportunity to lead the way by designing and marketing shoes for twenty-first century children. I look forward to your detailed consideration of my letter, and until I hear a satisfactory response I will be sharing my concerns with a wide audience.
"NB: I urge anyone reading this that shares my concerns to like and share this post with as many people as possible – it is only under immense public pressure that companies will effect change."
Jemma's empowering note has garnered over 33,000 Facebook reactions, many of which are the "angry" emoji, and nearly 6,000 comments.
The first page on the Clarks website for girls' shoes (Credit: Clarks)
The first page on the Clarks website for boys' shoes (Credit: Clarks)
One mum wrote: "Totally agree with you. For girls that walk to school the soles on a lot of their shoes would be worn through in weeks. The styles cannot be good for developing feet."
Another added: "This is a continual frustration of mine. Year after year the only reasonable fit for my daughter's small and very narrow feet is a flimsy style which covers very little of the foot and will not keep her feet warm or dry. I don't understand why school shoes don't cover the whole foot as standard, especially in winter."
Another wrote: "Totally agree. Spent many years coping with this for my two girls - thankfully the younger one is heading into sixth form so not an issue any more. But I strongly resent having to pay for adult women's shoes just to get some decent brogue style shoes with reasonable soles that would last more than half a term."
Clarks issued the following statement in response to the criticism:
“Clarks has a gender neutral ethos that anyone can choose any style they would like. Over the past few seasons, following customer feedback and market research, we have focused on creating more unisex shoes and we are looking at a number of elements of our business to promote this gender neutral ethos, both on our website and within our stores. As a large global company, it is not always possible to implement all the changes we want to make as quickly as we would like. However, we are looking to move as fast as we can to ensure this ethos is reflected throughout our brand.
“Today we have more unisex styles in our range than ever before. This means we now have a wider range of closed-in styles, school boots and Gore-Tex styles and these changes will continue in our Spring Summer 2018 range, which has been designed with an entirely unisex approach. In addition, in September we will roll out a new format in some of our stores, where the whole kids department will be unisex with shoes displayed by ‘story’, rather than gender.”