by Larry Gallagher
Being a father of two girls was a never a difficult thing for me as a sneakerhead. I didn’t drastically give up who I was or what I was into when my children were born. I love my daughters more than any hobby or interest I’ve ever had. Including them in my sneaker hobby was just natural.
I had years of fun purchasing my girls matching pairs of my favorite Jordan retro or asking them about what their favorite color shoe was from a list of new releases—just simple fun things that a dad can share with his kids.
That all changed when one of my daughters reached high school. With the teenage years come all types of drama that no parent wants to deal with, and having a daughter who likes a fresh pair of sneakers on her feet doesn’t make it any easier. I came to the realization that raising young women in a culture that can often objectify them isn’t the most fun thing to do.
Take for example in 2012, when I picked up a pair of Air Jordan 11s for my oldest daughter as a Christmas gift and had to immediately give her a warning about making sure she was careful when she was wearing them. I’ll admit that I probably would have added the overcautious dad warning even if they were for my son instead of my daughter, but I felt like it needed to be said so much more in her case. The fact I had to remind her that simply wearing a pair of sought after sneakers can often be taken as “trying to look cute” is something that is incredibly frustrating as a father.
In talking with her about the way she’s treated when she wears some of her best sneakers to school (she has a decent little collection by now) she shared, “No one really harasses me because of what I wear. But a lot of times, guys will tell me that it’s not fair that I have a certain pair because I’m not a real sneakerhead and I know they’re just saying it because I’m a girl.”
If anything, my daughter’s love of sneakers comes from a bond we share, so I could care less what a group of young kids think. But it also frustrates me that the same attitude of those kids will follow her into adulthood.
I’m smart enough to recognize that you can’t fight time. Eventually the world and the sneaker culture that I am a part of will pass me by, as my children and their peers will take over as the next generation of sneakerheads. I just want to make sure that culture is in a better place than it is now.
Female sneakerheads of all ages still deal with the stigma that them wearing sneakers and participating in the culture that surrounds it is counter to who they really should be. You see it constantly when guys are more than happy to see a woman half-naked in a pair of their favorite Jordans because it’s sexy (and I’m not denying it isn’t) but then don’t want to show respect to a female sneakerhead who has worked hard at having an admirable collection.
Just Google “men in sneakers” and “women in sneakers” and see what comes up. As you can see from the images below, the results are quite different.
It’s near impossible to reference women and sneakers online in any way and not get a smorgasbord of half-naked pictures to go with it. I understand that sex sells. It’s hard as a father to want my daughters to participate in a culture that does just that. This isn’t just a sneaker problem either, as we all have seen numerous times in all parts of our culture how women are told they can participate in anything they want, but often mocked or exploited when they attempt to.
The truth is I’m just a dad trying to look out for my girls.
There are plenty of fantastic women for young girls to look up to in sneaker culture and writing about shoes in general. I think of women like @nerdlikejazzy, @jentwice143, @thesneakermom and @soledevida when I want to show my daughters examples of ladies who are successful at what they do, without having to resort to using sexuality. Women like this are out there succeeding despite a culture that often works against them. I commend them because it helps make my job as a dad a little bit easier by being able to include my daughters in something I love and have positive examples to point to.
They can enjoy sneaker culture just as much as any guy can. Things aren’t perfect by any means ( I don’t know if they ever will be) but one thing I do know is as long as I’m here, I’ll keep trying to make being a sneakerhead a place all of my kids can enjoy regardless of their gender.