What Sells: Infants As Fashion Statements and Joke Props?

Nope, not a Halloween costume…Just “Heelarious” consumption for the Carrie Bradshaw wannabes.

Gosh, THIS is what merits a booking on The Today Show? Twice? (video of other ‘outrageous offerings’ after the jump)

Yeah, yeah, I know, ‘get a sense of humor’…Relax.

I realize babies in stiletto crib booties are intended to make folks smile (Pet Rocks had their heyday, ‘twas ever thus)…But the mindless consumption cues and mainstream media coverage is downright daunting to see ‘what sells’ in our pop culture of sexualization and glamorama.

Get this: In just two months, these $35 fashionista ‘first high heels’ for infants 0-6 mos have sold in 260 stores not including online e-tailers, with celebs and media fawning all over their venture in sensationalized hype with features on: Good Morning America, The Today Show, ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, IN Touch Magazine, E! Online, BBC, Entertainment Tonight, New York Post, US Weekly, Cookie Magazine, PEOPLE (celebrity baby blog)

Gee. Just think of what a few changebloggers and cyclebreakers could do with mass market media coverage like that! I actually have an antidote here…It’s a colossal PR spin/awareness idea to benefit our film Body Blitz: Media, Shaping Youth”” and others doing important work in this field…Are you ready?

First, it’s not so ‘heelarious’ to think that these gals are gonna rake in the cash by pimping superfluous baby gear while nonprofits like us struggle to use the power of media to reverse the damage being done to kids with hyper-sexualized media and marketing…

$35 a pop? I’ll take $35 donations any ol’ day!

I realize the creators are smart, savvy entrepreneurs, capitalizing on our culture’s absurdity of packaging girlhood in pink think with “she’s a little lady” purse packaging to boot…But…

…With the APA early sexualization study on the harm being done to girls overall, (not to mention the unhealthy foot fiascos of stilettos themselves, ouch!) it makes me think of how we can use this media/marketing gimmick to send a more meaningful message!!!

Soooooooo (drum roll, please!)

How about if Heelarious cuts a big fat check with their mega-media blitz to benefit little ol’ nonprofits like Shaping Youth who are mopping up the mess of early sexualization???

What d’ya think, huh? huh?

That would make all the attention-getting-press-coverage worthy if they used it to support a meaningful message that mocks the absurdity of our culture, and yields awareness about the ‘so sexy so soon’ grade school Lolita mentality trashing kids’ psyches.

Heelarious COULD rid themselves of controversy by being part of the solution rather than part of the problem…

They could use the whimsical style to raise public awareness of the APA study, and the damage of ‘anything for a buck’ profiteering at kids’ expense, and give organizations like Shaping Youth a cash infusion to do our work combatting this glamorama KGOY (Kids Getting Older Younger) Britney-ization/objectification trend!

Otherwise? Sorry, gang, it’s just the usual ‘what the market will bear’ capitalism running rampant with ridiculous new ways to consume products that trash the planet.

Am I right, Shaping Youth readers?

Parents for Ethical Marketing? Dr. Robyn? Dr. Lamb & Dr. Mikel-Brown? We could ALL use that cash to do our work combatting the ProstiTot, Sesame Streetwalker, Dereon Diva booty call mentality…

I’m dead serious here. Ping me, Heelarious ladies: Amy at Shaping Youth dot org. I’ll give you our mailing address!

Bootie vs. Booty…You have the power to be the change we wish to see in this world, as Gandhi would say…And you can still be ‘heelarious.’

CBS News Early Show Clip of ‘Outrageous Baby Products’ from personalized pacifiers and cute Mary Jane socks, to (ahem) um…’baby tattoos and toupees.’

Watch CBS Videos Online

Visual Credits: Baby heel closeup: King5 News, Washington, Heelarious founders Britta Bacon and Hayden Porter interviewed in the Bellevue Reporter, their Washington local paper, Lead photos: Trendhunter magazine gallery



  1. I have to hand it to you, Amy, you know how to turn it around. And of course, we all could use the funds. Love to see if you get a response now . . . .

  2. heehe…Well, Lisa, as you know, this is ‘what I do’… counter-marketing and reversing the spin…fight fire with fire…use the power of media turned on itself. It works in practice with our hands-on sessions with the kids, so why not en masse? 😉

    Actually, I can’t wait to tell you about our latest scalability play in the digital download arena for kids’ health…Ah, progress! Nothin’ quite like it! 🙂

    Thanks for the ping…hope to chat soon on the communal consortium interplay…lots of community building going on (speaking of scalability!) More soon, Amy

  3. Amy, I checked out some of your links and I’m glad to see you adding your voice to those of us who would say, let kids have a great childhood, they’ll be adults soon enough. They need creative play that comes from using the imagination. Otherwise their minds do not develop well and the lack of this can actually hold them back cognitively.

  4. Thanks, Robyn, although I suppose creative play is taking on many forms these days…online and offline…

    Yep, the folks I linked to are in this uphill struggle to let kids be kids too…rather than ‘mini-adults.’

    As for the imaginative play (forts, dress up, role play, open ended storylines, etc.) I’ll point you back to the book and post about Susan Linn’s The Case for Make-Believe. Have you read it? I’ll bet your Brain-Based Center could swap academic data with Susan for sure! 😉 Here’s the link (it’s a two-parter)

    Part One: https://shapingyouth.org/blog/?p=1681
    Part Two: https://shapingyouth.org/blog/?p=1700

    Thanks for the comment, always great to hear from you!

  5. p.s. It just dawned on me that the propensity for adults to ‘dress up kids (and pets/animals for that!) as props and ‘mini-mes’ may reach back into their own (lack of) imaginative play…who knows?

    I think it’s still the market-driven, “what sells” and “anything for a laugh” bit which pretty much feeds into the need for attention fueled by our appearance based culture.

    Which brings me to another link, about adults and kids’ need for attention any way they can get it: My post on humanist Alice Aspen March and her book The Attention Factor: https://shapingyouth.org/blog/?p=1345

  6. Hi Amy-

    Dr. Robyn here. Well, my thought is that many people would like to bury their heads in silly stuff for shock value– even when it isn’t worth the fabric used to make it. Crib shoes that are bad for cribs? Crib shoes that are bad for walking? They’re funny and sad at the same time.

    I’m all for a laugh– but once you put them on your child once– then what? How many times can you say– “hey– aren’t these funny?” before you realize that your friends aren’t laughing anymore…or think you’re nuts?

    Yes, I’m sure we’d take those donations anyday. how about we set up an ebay store for “gently used Heelarious shoes” and sell them to the next people for half price? Money goes to a conference/summit fund? Hmmmmm?

    Dr. Robyn

  7. heehee…not bad, but I’d rather go the confrontational route and have them send us all cash donations directly!! 😉 Last thing we need is another layer of workload!

    That said, it’s a good alternative if we don’t hear from them (chortle, grin, snort, rofl)

    Amazes me to think the amount of $$ people spend that could be better spent elsewhere…that’s a cause-marketing FB app if ever I saw one! whew.

  8. Still no word from the Heelarious folks?

  9. Not a peep. sigh. Perhaps the ‘check is in the mail?’ 😉
    heehe…Think I should reach out?

  10. I can hardly wait for the baby girl diaphragm and candy birth control pills! Have they come out with baby girl tampons?

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