The National Urban League is coming out today against the new LeBron X sneaker premiering this fall, saying Nike should pull the shoe because not all children will be able to afford them. “To release such an outrageously overpriced product while the nation is struggling to overcome an unemployment crisis is insensitive at best,” NUL president Marc Morial said, adding that the sneaker has “twisted priorities and confused values.”
He’s half right.
On one hand, let me say that I am in no way a supporter of Nike ever since they endorsed Eagles quarterback Michael Vick as a spokesperson. Vick committed horrendous and planned acts of violence against dogs and because of that I will never buy another Nike product again. I do agree with Morial that $315 for a pair of sneakers is ridiculous, but not just because we are struggling economically. Even if I were loaded, there is no way I would spend that much money on sneakers. Yes, they are supposed the come equipped with their own electronics in the shoes to gauge how far and long you walk or run, but is that necessary? What about a $10 pedometer and a watch?
It is up to parents to help a child find their way in the world, and know that their self-worth and self-esteem are not dependent on sneakers or any other material good.
Also, why are we pandering to boys shoes for the most part as opposed to girls shoes? I’m sure my girls wouldn’t mind taking a trip to the Upper East Side to get a shiny new pair of $500 shoes for school, but that is something we can’t afford. I could grab a pair of Manolo Blahniks…if I didn’t pay the mortgage this month. Since the beginning of time, there have been ridiculously expensive shoes for girls and women but there has never been talk about asking Beverly Hills shoe shops to stop selling them.
But describing a sneaker as “twisting priorities and confusing values,” Morial’s comments are off-base. It is up to parents to help a child find their way in the world, and know that their self-worth and self-esteem are not dependent on sneakers or any other material good. Children also need to know that they just can’t get everything they want: money doesn’t just appear for big-ticket items in families, and using a credit card to purchase items you can’t afford is irresponsible. When did sneakers become a status symbol anyway?
It seems our priorities are already twisted if we allow so many kids to believe that having an expensive shoe makes them better than another or just as good as their friends. Every child is good enough just as they are, without having anything. When did we stop teaching our children that and start giving in to peer pressure?
The problem in many cases is that parents themselves are spending away in order to soothe a need in their lives. They are also trying to provide everything their kids need, falsely thinking that clothes and shoes will make them feel good. They won’t; self-esteem comes from within.
If our society weren’t so ego-driven and shallow, there would be no market for the sneakers. So instead of asking Nike to pull the shoe, I say let them sell it, and then it’s up to us parents not to buy them, and have them fall flat on their face.
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