Shoe manufacturer Clarks has come under fire for offering a shockingly sexist girls' school shoe range called the "Dolly Babe."
The equivalent boys' school shoe range is called "Leader" and has a football pattern on its insoles. The "Dolly Babe" insoles feature a heart-based pattern.
The controversy began when Miranda Williams, a councillor from Eltham in south east London, visited the Clarks website while shopping for school shoes for her two daughters. She came across the "Dolly Babe" range, rightly felt "appalled" by what she saw, and shared screen-grabs of both the "Dolly Babe" and "Leader" shoes on Twitter, copying in the @everydaysexism Twitter account.
"The idea that we should be bringing up a generation of boys to aspire to become leaders while the best hope for girls is to be Dolly Babes is just grim," Williams told The Sunday Times. "It makes me so angry. It's bad enough that girls' shoes are so flimsy and so unsuitable for jumping in puddles or climbing trees compared to boys' shoes, which are so much more robust. But to create such a stereotype is totally unacceptable."
Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, also criticised the "Dolly Babe" shoe range on Twitter. She told followers that it is "almost beyond belief" that Clarks could have considered this sexist name and design "acceptable" in 2017. Carolyn Harris, the shadow minister for women and equalities, described the difference in shoes for girls and boys as "blatant discrimination."
According to the BBC, Clarks has now removed the "Dolly Babe" shoe range from its website. "We are working hard to ensure our ranges reflect our gender-neutral ethos," a spokesperson said. "We apologise for any unintended offence caused."
However, at the time of writing, the "Dolly Babe" range is still available through several other retailers including John Lewis.