Friday, September 25, 2009

Kids' fashion goes too far: High heels for toddlers?

I have a 4-year-old girl at home, so this item caught my eye for all the wrong reasons: Suri Cruise, 3, was seen traipsing around Boston with her mom on Monday wearing shimmery high-heeled silver shoes.

Granted, the heels were only about an inch-and-a-half high. (Mom Katie Holmes, interestingly enough, was wearing flats.) But these weren't your typical, plastic, swiped-from-the-princess-costume slippers being worn during a play date. These were proper, miniature peep-toed pumps -- no word on whether they're the custom-made $2,500 Christian Louboutins she's rumored to own.

But even if they're from the sale rack at the dollar store, high heels on a 3-year-old is taking fashion too far. Here's the thing: High heels are sexy -- that's why women wear them. Little girls don't need to be sexy -- that's why they shouldn't.

Now, I understand the desire to "dress like Mommy." I wanted to when I was a kid; my not-quite 5-year-old loves shuffling around the house in my shoes and occasionally tries to wear her pink plastic princess slippers to school.

But Suri's shoes and the ones like it that I'm seeing in stores aren't for playing dress up. A quick online search of the shoe selection at up-scale Nordstroms showed several adorable wedge and kitten-heel shoes as well as chunky-heeled boots in little-kid and toddler sizes with as much as a 2-inch heel.

There's even a soft high-heeled shoe for infants too young to walk (the company, Heelarious, touts them as "her first high heels" and offers rubber teethers shaped like credit cards to complete the look.)

Kids' clothing has been trending away from tradition for a long time now, with the latest hot outfits informed by adult styles. That's nothing new -- I was a kid when Madonna was in her "Like a Virgin" phase. What's new -- to me, at any rate -- is the blatant sexualization that comes with it now, and the way that sexualized look has become the norm for younger and younger kids.

What do you think, parents? Are high-heeled shoes too much for a toddler? Why or why not?

(Photo is of Nordstrom's "Fern" sandal, available in toddler sizes)

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