Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Skechers Needs to 'Shape Up' Says the National Eating Disorders Association

For Immediate Release
May 24, 2011

Skechers Needs to 'Shape Up' Says the National Eating Disorders Association

Skechers Needs to 'Shape Up' Says
the National Eating Disorders Association

Offensive Marketing Campaign Targets Young Girls

SEATTLE — May 24, 2011 — For Immediate Release — The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) has added its voice to the growing international protest against Skechers’
Shape-ups advertising campaign targeting young girls.

The athletic shoes – which claim to shape and tone the wearer’s legs and bottom just by walking in them (a claim many experts disavow) – were previously targeted at an adult, female demo-graphic. But a recently launched ad campaign clearly targets pre-teen, elementary school-aged children … specifically girls, since there is no comparable shoe for boys.

Says Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of NEDA, “The animated Skechers Shape-ups ad campaign aimed at pre-teen girls is a lost opportunity for a company with a good product. One more seemingly harmless message aimed at young girls is another wolf in sheep’s clothing. Instead of encouraging young girls to be healthy, live a balanced life and feel good about their individuality and natural body type, ads like this tell young girls that they need to “shape up” and run away from food to be popular and successful. I have seen a 10-year-old girl on a feeding tube whose eating disorder started with poor self esteem and evolved as she was trying to shape up. Skechers is the one who needs to shape up!”

“The company has kindly responded to our requests for a discussion, but unfortunately they do not understand or agree with us regarding the innuendo and subliminal message that is being sent to little girls by the name of the shoe and the ad campaign. We believe that it is presumptuous and negative to tell little girls across the country to shape up. We suggested they rethink the marketing to something that is not insulting but rather healthy and positive, such as Skechers for kids, for kids on the move,” Grefe added. “If it’s a good product, it will survive with positive body image messages.”

The sassy animated commercial features young girls as pop stars, who are followed by three boys dressed in costumes as ice cream, a hot dog and a cupcake. A girl wearing Shape-ups confidently strides away from the boys/food.

London’s Daily Mail called the commercial “another example of the confusing message of food, sex and clothing” we’re sending to our youth. Wrote the disgusted Huffington Post blogger who began the protest – which has since garnered a ground swell of support from parents’ and women’s organizations and been a topic on such high-profile media outlets as the Today Show, “Should there be NutriSystem for young girls ads on Nickelodeon? Or Zantrex 3 for 8-year-olds advertised on Cartoon Network?”

Skechers President Leonard Armato attempted to “set the record straight” with a response posted on the Huffington Post that compared the goals of their campaign and shoes to the First Lady’s Let’s Move anti-obesity initiative, which is also specifically aimed at children. Comments which drew additional fire.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), headquartered in Seattle, Wash., is the leading U.S. non-profit organization supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Each year, NEDA helps millions of people across the country find information and appropriate treatment resources through its toll-free, live helpline, its many outreach programs and website. NEDA advocates for advancements in the field and envisions a world without eating disorders. For more information, visit
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For Treatment Referrals, Visit
Or Contact NEDA’s Live Helpline: 800-931-2237

Monday – Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (PST)


Greenleaf & Associates — 323-660-5800

Vicki Greenleaf —
Karen Brundage —

Available for Interviews:
• Lynn Grefe, President and CEO of NEDA.
• Doctors, psychologists & other eating disorder treatment specialists throughout the country.
• Recovered eating disorder patients.
• Celebrity NEDA ambassadors.

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