complaint letter submitted by a Mama Manifesto reader, Gina:

Dear “not-the-priciest-but-definitely-above-average-department-store”:

This is my first complaint letter I have ever written to a department store, but…..

I was in your children’s shoe department yesterday, shopping for my nine year old. We went in looking for sandals, and I was horrified to find that the girls’ sandals in your store seem to have grown wedge heels since last year!

So I asked myself….Who thought that was a good idea?

Surely not moms. Why would a mom think to herself, “Self, I am so over these nice comfy flat sandals that are cute and little-girly. From now on, I will only purchase platforms!”

Surely not buyers for your store. Why would a children’s shoe buyer think to herself, “Self, no moms are going to want only flat sandals that a girl can run or climb trees or turn a cartwheel in. This year all the moms are going to want to buy sandals with heels.”

Surely not shoe makers. Why would a children’s shoe maker think to his or herself, “Self, there is absolutely no problem with creating a girls’ shoe that is potentially unsafe. And totally no problem with dressing an 9 year old like an 18 year old.”

So I ask myself, where is the breakdown here? Who thinks this is a good idea? Haven’t we all read enough articles about the dangers of sexualizing young girls? Don’t we want our girls to still be cart-wheeling at 9, not teetering on platform heels?

So I am writing my first complaint, ever. On behalf of my gangly, all elbows and knees, beautiful girls, who I want to see running and playing as long as possible. Who I don’t want to see looking like adolescents, until they reach actual adolescence.

I am complaining, for their safety, for their innocence, and out-loud, and because I am guessing there are other moms who feel exactly the same way as I do.

Yours truly,


  1. Gina,

    I have been so dismayed by girls' "fashions" and girls' shoes available in stores for several years now that I nearly always resort to buying online.

    This year I was equally dismayed when I attempted to buy my 4 year old son new sneakers and sandals. I had 3 criteria for sneakers: NOT black, and no violent cartoon characters (no transformers, no spiderman, etc), and velcro or elastic tabs because I am not interested in tying shoes all day. OH! And LESS than $45, please, because THEY ARE FOR A 4 YEAR OLD! It took me 3 days to find some, even on the internet!

    If it helps, I almost always get my kids sandals at Lands End, where the sandals have a back to them so they STAY ON, and there is no sexualizing my kids. The sandals are $19.50 right now and come in a whole variety of colors.

    I'm with you, sister.

  2. Amen! It's the early 20 designers coming out of kids...they just don't get it!!!

    Now,I have to comment about your first commenter...not black???spiderman=violent...come on, I would like to see a comment from her in three years when her son is a bit older!

    I don't believe in "sexualizing" my kids like making my daughter look like she should stand on the corner of 5th and 3rd BUT...I am all about this is boys and this is girls!
    sandy toe

  3. A-men!
    Why can't we get back to the garment or shoe being well designed, so that it looks nice on it's own? It seems that everything's being churned out of Chinese sweatshops at such a rate , that clothes/shoes then have to be plastered with sequins/frills/glitter/super-heros/princesses (delete as applicable) to get children to pester their parents into buying them.
    Whenever I go to Europe I'm struck by how much simpler, but better designed, the childrens' clothes are there.
    Well done Gina for getting down in black and white!

  4. I honestly thought this was a post about an adult complaining about uncomfortable shoes. I was shocked to discover it was a children's shoe!?!

  5. You've got my vote! I agree 100%

  6. I absolutely agree, 100% with your letter about girl's shoes! But don't leave out the clothes as well. Go into any Department Store, go to the department for girl's wearing size 7 and up. What do you find? Low rise jeans and pants because it's really important for an 8 year old to show off that trim little tummy and what color underwear she is wearing that day. Deep v-neck shirts, because hey, if you've got it, flaunt it. Don't even get me started on High School Musical and Hannah Montana!! I know little girl's love that stuff and I'm sorry to those of you who let your daughter's watch those movies/shows BUT they just aren't appropriate for 6,7,and 8 year olds. Maybe not even 9,10,11, and 12 year olds. And, the quality of the clothing stinks!! I can't stand seeing little girls in glitzy, sparkly polyester! I was so sad when my daughter outgrew the Jumping Beans brand at Kohl's. Now in order to get her half-way decent, age-appropriate clothes, I have to shop online, pay double the price AND pay shipping!

  7. Signed -

    All mother's across America, who don't want to see their daughters grow up too soon, or break their necks trying...

  8. Yep, I agree.
    I too noticed the weird high heeled sandals at Walmart. I didn't think much of it because my daughter is only 2, but now that you've mentioned it, it is down right crude!
    I guess it is up to us to continue to be choosy shoppers. I'm considering learning how to sew! However, before I go to that extreme (if you knew me, you'd know that is an extreme idea) I do like to find things at Superstore (for you Canadian moms). They have a line of clothing called Joe, and it really is average Joe clothes at average prices. True, the quality isn't great, the clothes don't last forever, but they are respectable.

  9. Amen, Gina! Kids will grow up all too soon. Why do people try to rush the process?

    Also, I agree with Sandy Toes. I think it's okay for boys to wear black and superhero stuff. That's all part of being a boy!

  10. I wonder if they have those sandals in an adult 7, they are CUTE.

    I noticed the same thing when Easter was right around the corner. All the sandals had elevated bottoms, even if they were still flat. It's ridiculous.

  11. AMEN!

    After teaching 5th grade and being horrified at the current style trends (and what some parents will let their little girls wear), I couldn't agree with you more.

    Having a daughter of my own now, I'm even shocked at the TODDLER clothes that are halters or low cut. I mean, really, I can't even pull off a low cut halter!

    Thanks for speaking out for us... we all need to do this more!



  12. On a side note, as I saw someone mention Jumping Beans at Kohls, Target has the same kind of mix and match line, as does Wal-Mart (Garanimals). Love them! Sure, the clothes won't last for years, but at the rate my girl is growing, I'm lucky if they fix for a few weeks!

  13. Too young to be on heels full time. Running, falling and twisting ankles.

    Every now and then we pick a Sunday only shoe with a little wedge or short square heel. It doesnt sexualize her but makes her feel "like a fancy lady" and there is nothing wrong with that.

    Lands End has been a good source for great shoes. Even better in the clearance section when I get them under $20 and with free shipping.

  14. My daughter is only two and I had a hard time finding flat white sandals for her this spring. I also agree that clothing has gotten out of hand as well, she wears a lot of her brother's hand me down shorts because all of the ones they sell are way to short. I don't think little girls should have their tushes hanging out of their clothes. I never had this trouble with my son. Thank goodness I know how to sew.

  15. Hi,

    I have found your blog. I really like your perspective on complaint letter writing. As I was doing my research, I have also found a great resource for online complaints: Complaint Letters. I think you will find it very interesting and resourceful

  16. Oh thanks heavens I'm not the only sane person out there. I almost laughed when I got a bag of clothes that my daughter's great aunt was nice enough to donate from her grand daughters. A pair of purple sequined wedge flip flops? She's THREE!!! Who puts this on a little kid? She likes to run. She can not do that in a wedge heel. And did I mention she's THREE?!?!?! I don't even wear shoes like that (I'm the sneaker type). And I, too, am tired of seeing 11 and 12 year old girls whose mothers let them wear low rise jeans with tube tops. Really? Are you raising her specifically to be a hooker? o.O Whose mother lets them wear that crap? But then, look at what their mothers are wearing. I recently had this misfortune to see a girl of about 15 or 16 wearing shorts that almost didn't exist...and a shirt with nearly as much material. Then I looked at her 40 something mother, who was wearing skin tight, low rise jeans and a SEE THROUGH shirt. Really? I'm not conservative by any means. I'm not overly religified. I'm pretty liberal and laid back. I don't police every thing my kids watch and hear. I have an open mind and assume that if I teach my children right, they will be able to make informed decisions on their own. But I do object to seeing two year old little girls in mini skirts with (kid you not) thigh high patent leather high heeled boots. Like you'd see on a hooker. Not joking. What happened to shorts that came to her knees and a comfy t shirt and some comfy shoes she can RUN and PLAY in. They are CHILDREN...these are the things they like to do. Dress them as such.


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