When Your Kid’s Fashion Sense Collides With Your Own

If you don’t have a daughter under the age of 13, you might not be familiar with Skechers Twinkle Toes. If not, let me fill you in.

Imagine the loudest graffiti-covered canvas sneakers you wore in 1984, douse them with a handful of glitter, and if they’re still not flashy enough for you, bedazzle them with rows of candy-colored sequins. Oh – and make those bad boys light up in case your daughter’s classmates in the back row still have their retinas intact. Little girls, my five-year-old included, are obsessed with them.

Mr. P and I have been pretty flexible about what MJ wears. Pajamas to the YMCA? Sure! Hot-glue gun-repaired plastic flip-flops with corduroys? No problem, my little hippie. I don’t want to put a damper on her creativity, and as long as she’s not wearing something reminiscent of a mini pole dancer, what’s the harm?

However, now that MJ has moved beyond Disney Junior, which for her has been a “commercial-free” zone for the past five years (although come on, Disney Channel is pretty much a 24-hour commercial for Disney swag), to the more sophisticated offerings of Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, she’s been at the receiving end of a barrage of marketing messages when it comes to products, including shoes and clothing.

Occasionally, the power of persuasion has been genius (“Mom, did you know at Missouri College, becoming a dental hygienist takes less time than you think?”), but more often than not, she’s been sucked in by GoGurt, Chuck E. Cheese pizza, and the commercial of her dreams – that of Skechers Twinkle Toes, which only intensified after McDonald’s gave out Twinkle Toe key chains in their Happy Meals.

The mom in me shakes her fist in disgust at the impact of the Skechers ad campaign on her five-year-old. However, the advertising copywriter who still lives inside me wants to give Skechers a fist bump and a “well played, sir” for their savvy cross-promotional tactics.

After a year of listening to MJ ask for Twinkle Toes, I finally relented. The kid is incredibly laid-back when it comes to clothes and rarely asks for anything, so we thought we’d cut her some slack as long as she helped pay for them with her allowance and only if they were on sale. So on Saturday night, we went on a Twinkle Toes mission.

Immediately, I was struck by the Ed Hardy-ness of the sneakers. As MJ slipped on a pair, she immediately morphed into the kindergarten version of Jon Gosselin. Was that Axe I smelled wafting from her pores? Yet, my cynicism started to melt away as I saw the look of a year of joy creeping over her face.

The next day, as MJ stepped into a pair of her favorite cowboy boots from last year, she remarked, “Mommy, I think these are too small. Can we take my shoes back and get a pair of boots instead?”

Part of me did a jig of glee for her lean toward something more sophisticated. The other part was a little sad, thinking of exchanging her glittery, flashy shoes for something understated. She’s a little girl for such a short time – unfortunately, there aren’t many times in one’s life when wearing sequined, graffitied, light-up shoes is socially appropriate, unless you’re a hipster.

But the main reason I wanted to hang on to them was purely selfish. When I’m 70 years old sporting a sequined Justin Timberlake shirt with a gold lame track suit, and my kid blasts my outlandish fashion decisions, I’m going to whip out a photo of those sneakers and shout from the mountaintops, “Look! Look what I bought you when you were five!”

In the end, I realized I shouldn’t stifle my kid’s fashion sense (within reason). I have no room to talk – five-year-old Nicole was flashy as well, right down to the gold initial stickers on my eyeglass lenses.

By Nicole Plegge, Lifestyle Blogger for SmartParenting

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Metro East mom Nicole Plegge has written for STL Parent for more than 12 years. Besides working as a freelance writer & public relations specialist, and raising two daughters and a husband, Nicole's greatest achievements are finding her misplaced car keys each day and managing to leave the house in a stain-free shirt. Her biggest regret is never being accepted to the Eastland School for Girls. Follow Nicole on Twitter @STLWriterinIL 

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