payless- painfull

After our family morning I had a girls afternoon with my friend Tracey. After lunch and a movie we walked around the mall a bit. She needed to go shoe shopping and I tagged along.

While she was trying on sandals at Payless I browsed around looking at the kiddie shoes. It was there that I happened upon the "dance" section. I had never noticed it before. A whole wall of ballet, jazz and tap shoes. "what a wonderful thing" I thought to myself... the idea of bringing dance to the mainstream.

I looked around for boy tap shoes. I thought (for the right price) it would be a fun thing to get for Braden. Shoes that made noise that you were allowed to stamp and scuff and shake... what could be better.

It didn't take me long to notice that there were NO tap shoes for boys to be had... I walked over to a sales lady and asked her where the boys tap shoes were. She looked at me and said that they weren't sure that they had any. Another sales lady spoke up and said "aren't they interchangeable? can't boys wear girls tap shoes?" I responded that "No, the shoes are NOT the same and I am not about to send the message to my son that if you want to dance you have to be a girl - or wear things made for girls."

The first sales lady spoke up " You know, I have worked here for almost 10 years I can not recall any other parent asking me for boy dance shoes." I didn't know what to say...the ladies weren't being rude... just matter of fact... but I was so upset.

Why do we teach our children that dance is only for girls. I have NEVER seen a dance production of ANY kind (whether live or on TV) that did not include male dancers. From Ballet to Tap and Jazz, Modern, Hip Hop, popping, Ballroom and Latin... they all include MEN!

But for some reason this is not taught to our youth. I can remember studying ballet as a kid and having the whole class filled with girls. No one mentioned that if we wanted to perform the Nutcracker we would need boys and men.... It never occurred to me that any boys were interested in dance. I am sure not all boys are, but I bet there are some.

I was so mad as I left the store. I felt let down. I felt the smallness of Abilene in the negative way yesterday.


Terrence Taps said...

I dealt with something similar when seeking tap shoes for my son. The store told me that they stopped carrying tap shoes for young boys because they "just didn't sell". They were also very matter-of-fact about it and that's here in Atlanta, GA.

That's very depressing for me...a professional male tap dancer and instructor.

Thanks for sharing your experience as well.

Terrence Taps

Natasha said...

We've had that with our guy. We've found black ballet shoes, but no 'boy' tap shoes (yet--I'm still looking). My kids are all quite inspired to tap away from 'Happy Feet'. Have you watched the tap tutorial with Savion Glover in the special features? It's almost as good as the movie.

Unforunately, there are still all those 'boy' and 'girl' categories, from toys to clothes to colors to names to sports. You know how I feel about all the forced genderization :)

martha.durham said...

Well, I was talking with one of my neighbors and her younger daughter (age7) has boys in her class(es). This studio in Cheyenne appears to keep boys/girls in class together until 6th grade (give or take a year) and then splits off. They order the boys shoes on-line as there just doesn't appear to be a market for them according to the stores. Guess I can see that. Unfortunately, many stereotypes take a while to go away. :)
Hope all is well!!