So much for female empowerment in advertising being a thing. It seems like Nine West is going against the trend with its latest campaign, which you can find on the company’s site. This fall, Nine West wants to outfit women in its selection of shoes — but only if they’re looking for a man.
The shoe brand’s latest promos have sparked outrage online with people calling the ads both ridiculous and sexist. On Nine West’s main page, we see a woman’s foot clad in a leopard print pump with the words “Starter Husband Hunting” superimposed onto the image. Click through, and you’re directed to another page under the brand’s “Shoe Occasions” section featuring a graphic proclaiming, “Whether you’re looking for Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now…We got a shoe for that.” Uh-huh.
Scroll down and you’ll find a selection of shoes (mostly pumps) in black, red and leopard print colorways — gotta be fierce when you’re out looking for a man, amirite? Especially if you don’t plan on keeping him around because, after all, you want a rich starter husband and there are deeper pockets out there.
“But what if I’m not man-hunting and I need a pair of shoes for something else?” you ask. Don’t worry, Nine West has even more options for you, but only if you’re sending your kids to kindergarten for the first time, otherwise, YOU DON’T DESERVE SHOES AT ALL, SPINSTER.
“The bus arrives and so do the waterworks,” the header reads. “Then it hits you: Mommy now has the weeks off. Wipe those happy-sad tears…We got a shoe for that.” In fact, Nine West has several shoes for weepy stay-at-home moms, but don’t think they’re practical because, again, you’re only on your starter husband, so who knows what hotties could pass by while you’re waiting for your kid to get picked up! Try walking your child to the bus stop in a pair of mesh peep toe booties with a 4 1/2″ heel, because that’s appropriate. Or maybe take a spin in their equally high Bachelor pumps, because you’d be looking for a wealthy one of those anyway.
We don’t have to explain why or how these ads are sexist. We won’t insult your intelligence. But the biggest question is: Why did Nine West think these ads would be OK in 2014? Maybe someone on the marketing team is really into Mad Men and really clueless about sexism? According to the United States Department of Labor, 57.2 percent of women of working age (over 16) currently participate in the workforce. That means more than half of the eligible working female population in the U.S. have jobs and are making their own money, not sniffing around for starter husbands. With this information readily available (it took me like, .5 seconds to get these numbers in a Google search), why did Nine West choose these shoe occasions, as opposed to something that might be more relevant to the majority of the women the brand is marketing to? Is the first day of work not a shoe occasion? A big presentation? A job interview? Heck, even a girls’ night out could have worked better than either of these. Being a mother and finding a husband is obviously important for many women, but to have these as the only options for “occasions” assumes that these are the only things important to modern ladies.
But who knows? Maybe you can wear Nine West’s shoes to find a better husband who will buy you Giuseppe Zanottis instead.