The Sparkly Shoes arrived in the Wolfe household in December of 2011. I had found a beautiful Christmas dress for little miss that was champagne in color. I had seen ruby red sparkly shoes at Target and thought they look lovely with the dress. We went to try on shoes, and alas, there were no sparkly red shoes in her size. Cue meltdown. Hers, not mine. Lo and behold, a few feet away stood PINK sparkly shoes, from Hello Kitty. Izzy was in heaven. Her two loves together, and in shoe form.
Those shoes were loved. And by loved, I mean when they were retired right before Easter, there were no sparkles left on the toes, one of the Hello Kitty charms was missing, and the soles were very very very very worn. Parting Izzy from these shoes scared me more than when I was about to give birth to Zach and I was told the anesthesiologist wouldn’t be back in time to set up the continuous epidural drip and it was almost time to push and he was presenting face up. Still with me?
With Easter approaching, I needed to get her new shoes to wear for church. I had hoped to find more pink sparkly Hello Kitty shoes, but no, they were gone. The selection was small, and finding shoes she liked in her size, even just to try on, was difficult. We tried going a size up and a size down in a few styles. She walks down a bit and finds little girl high heels. Then it was “MOMMY!!! I HAVE TO HAVE THESE THEY’RE HIGH HEELS BIG GIRLS CAN WEAR HIGH HEELS CANIPLEASEHAVETHEMMOMMYPLEASEPLEASE?” My response to this was “not on your life, sweetheart.” She responded, “yes mother, I understand. I won’t push the issue any further.” HA!! She was ready for a full blown fit, but stopped when she caught the mommy glare. We had a stare down for awhile, and I won. She said “OH FINE.” So we kept looking.
Happily ever after, I found a pair of clear jelly Cinderella shoes, little glass slippers that were perfect for her. AND THEY CAME IN HER SIZE! I tried them on her feet, and she exclaims “THEY FIT!!!” It was cute. And in a happy moment of everyone getting her way, they had the teeniest, tiniest little heel. High enough for her to feel like she had won, low enough for me to feel comfortable with her wearing them. She’s five, she needs to stay little, she doesn’t need heels.
The subject of Izzy’s lack of grace (a genetic defect inherited from her mother) is a series of posts on their own. To put that girl in a shoe where her heal is an inch and a half higher than her toes is asking for a trip to the emergency room. When she asked for the heels, my mind flew back to a psychology class that discussed how high heels affect appearance. Starting from the bottom up, high heels make a woman essentially stand on her toes. In doing so, this makes the muscles in her legs contract, giving atight, toned, elongated, visually appealing appearance. Moving up, with her legs contracted, her butt scoots out as center of gravity adjusts. Even further, abs contract, giving a slim appearance. To further adjust for center of gravity, her shoulders are pulled back, which pushes her chest out, making her breasts more prominent. Gee, I want this for my daughter!!!!!!
That led to the bigger issue I had with my FIVE year old wearing high heels (don’t get me started on the fact that they are even available in little girl sizes), not wanting her to grow up too soon. She’s a little girl. She needs to stay a little girl. I know little girls like to play dress up, and play make-up, imitating what they see. I remember wanting to grow up SOOO badly when I was little.
I have no problem with her feeling grown up. When she wears her pretty necklace from Grandma’s trip to Central America, she feels grown up and pretty. When she wears her clear chapstick and thinks its like wearing makeup and feels grown up, fine. I would like her to feel good about herself without these things, and she does, and I want to keep it that way. What I don’t like about little girls wearing high heels, wearing make-up out of the house regularly, and dressing like they’re older is the message it sends out to others looking at them. It’s not that I don’t want her looking like this, and having someone think “how can her mother let her do that?” It’s that I don’t want her looking like an adult as a child. Seems simple.
Growing up I looked older than my age, and I think much of that was attributed to my height. I was often mistaken as the oldest child simply because I was taller than my sisters. Somehow height equates to relative age. I used to love it, and it used to drive my sister nuts. Now I hate it, and I’m sure she enjoys it…hmmm. I felt a lot of pressure to appear older and act older because people thought I was older. At a wedding reception, when I was 14, I was asked how long it would be until I would get married. Um, quite a few years, thank you. Another time, at an anniversary party, I’m standing next to my brother in law, and someone comes up to us and asks “so, when are you two going to start having kids?” My reply was “I think my sister would get mad if he and I had kids.” I was eighteen being mistaken for twenty-seven.
Izzy is tall, will be one of the oldest kids in her class this fall, and looks older than five. I don’t need to add to that. She doesn’t need to feel any pressure at five to behave like she’s seven, and so on. It may not seem like a big gap, but it is. When she’s seven, I don’t need her thinking she needs to be ten. At ten, thirteen. Why is this a big deal? Because I worry about her mental health. She needs to grow up at her own rate. Her body will grow at its rate, and her brain and mentality may grow at another rate. Someday she may physically look sixteen, but feel like a ten year old inside. When the external appearance causes others to presume what’s happening in her brain, any discrepancy could spell disaster. Maybe not alone, but piece by piece, repeatedly hearing things making her think she should be older than her brain is telling her it is will be damaging.
But she’s only five, right? Why am I worried about this now? Because it starts now! I want to set the stage for her that right now she is young and needs to worry about what happens if she loses her favorite stuffed animal, not if she’s fat. I frequently see news articles reporting on studies talking about kids dieting at younger ages, dating young, entering puberty sooner, becoming sexually active at alarmingly young ages. When do we pin point where it starts? I don’t know exactly, but I’m starting with her right now. I’m planting my feet firmly on this one, and by saying no to high heels, I’m setting the precedent for her hearing “no” when she wants to wear a skirt that’s too short, or wear makeup too young, or date too young. And I hope someday she thanks me.