A promotional email from high street shoe retailer Office in the UK has struck the wrong chord with customers, sparking an online debate about sexism.

The furore began when the chain sent out marketing messages to those on its mailing list with the subject line: "Show a little leg."

So far, so uncontroversial - but it was the tagline below on the message, advertising Office's summer collections, which divided opinion. It read: "Just don't forget to shave them."

While some treated the email in the light-hearted manner in which it had presumably been sent, others were distinctly unimpressed.


One user of internet forum Mumsnet even branded the email sexist and said she would not shop at Office again.

Katy, 24, told MailOnline: "I was shocked Office thinks it is acceptable to tell women they need to shave their legs.

"Companies that want women to buy their products should be positive towards women, not try to make them feel insecure about their bodies." The blogger said she decided to raise the issue on Mumsnet after contacting Office via social media and receiving no reply.

She explained: "I want people to know what they email women so they can make the decision for themselves if they want to shop there. I know I do not want to support sexist companies."

Some mothers agreed with Katy, describing it as a "repellent" message to send out. One wrote, "if there's one thing you should be able to buy without being body shamed it's shoes" while another described it as "odd marketing".

One mother, with the username My Cat Was Right About You, wrote: "I know it's supposed to be lighthearted, but in reality it is quite sexist/body-shaming."

She added: "Would they send out an email with men's sandals and say 'Men, don't forget to pluck your toe hair before you wear them'? No, they wouldn't. So that's why it's sexist."

But others suggested there were more important things to get annoyed about and accused Katy of "overthinking things".

One posted: "I think it was likely a friendly conversation, a comment that will appeal to most of their audience." Another user joked: "I never remember to shave mine so would appreciate the reminder."

And one revealed she had got the wrong end of the stick after seeing the subject of the discussion: "I thought someone in your office told you to shave your legs. That would have been wrong."

According to a recent beauty poll, leg shaving comes top of a list of most hated beauty chores, with 35 per cent of British women saying they dislike it more than anything else in their beauty routine. But for something they loathe, they spend a lot of time doing it - 59 days over a lifetime. Office had not responded to requests for comment last night.