The Shoe Astronauts Lied To You.

Goodness! I am so excited because today’s post will be cross-posted over at Eat the Damn Cake, one of my new favorite body image blogs. Kate is honest, hilarious, and oh so smart and insightful, so do click over and be her best friends.

Christian Louboutin Shoe Photo

Just catching up on my Google Reader (is anyone else always chronically, despairingly behind on their blog reading?) and this caught my eye over on Jezebel:

Christian Louboutin in the Met Ball:  “There were a lot of women wearing my shoes. And some of them came up to me and told me they were uncomfortable!”

I kind of love this. Not Christian — did you really not already know your shoes are so damn pinchy? But the whole idea of women at the Met Ball being like, “dude, WTF already!”

Confession time: I absolutely love shoes.

I have a ridiculously large collection that I keep arranged by color on all these shelves in my closet. When I left my last office job, they had to messenger home the three boxes of shoes that lived under my desk. I’m the type of person that people are always giving shoe greeting cards and shoe calendars. (Plus cat-themed things, which is a whole other story. Dear world, I’m full up on both fronts now.)

And so, I’m at a point where I’m feeling embarrassed about how much I love them, because Carrie Bradshaw et al have put shoes firmly on a Stuff Women Like List that I find sometimes oppressive. I won’t attempt a comprehensive catalog here but other highlights include chocolate, cats and purses. Which are also things I happen to like, dammit.

What I don’t like is the way this List is used to be patronizing to women or enable women to patronize themselves —that Bridget Jones Syndrome where if you like these things you can’t possibly have more serious thoughts on Real Issues because you’re too busy counting calories and moaning over why he hasn’t called yet. You can like shoes and still be a good feminist/driver/person who recycles. I shouldn’t have to explain that again.

I also don’t like how the List makes women feel bad about themselves if they happen to have girl parts and yet mysteriously not love these things. It worries me when I talk to women who hate shoes, because I hear a lot of fear mixed with defensiveness — that they could never walk in heels that high, that they’ll get blisters and break an ankle, that they’ve failed on some essential female front by not being the type of woman who loves shoes.

That’s hogwash. And it’s also the fault of women like me — a group I’ll call The Shoe Astronauts. We’re probably the reason for that List in the first place. We like to walk around in ridiculously high shoes and say nonchalant things like, “they’re actually really comfortable!”

Translation: They’re slowly crushing my fifth metatarsal into oblivion, but I have the Right Stuff, so I can stand it. You there, in your Dansko clogs, are made from an inferior form of estrogen. And you don’t know where to shop.

I once insisted a new pair of strappy sandals were so comfortable, I could walk in them for miles. And I did. Right up until my boyfriend looked down and informed me that I was leaving a trail of blood behind us on the sidewalk.

“But they’re so comfortable,” I said.

I’m working on it. I don’t want to be the reason that another woman feels bad about herself (or her feet). I’m recognizing that this too is a beauty standard that I have conformed to relentlessly and unquestioningly for years. My style has also evolved (thanks working from home!) so I run around in a pair of laceless Converse sneakers most of the time.*

But I still love shoes, in a heart-stopping, heady, where-did-you-get-those-red-peeptoe-slingbacks way. And I still wear beautiful shoes when I go somewhere Important, and I’ll be damned if I’m ever going to be the bridesmaid who takes her shoes off as soon as she hits the reception and dances barefoot all night. Instead I bring cute flats to change into so I don’t have to suffer for more than two hours. And I no longer pretend shoes are comfortable when they aren’t.

I’ll just admit it: Sometimes, I love things that aren’t so good for me.

*Sorry Dankso. I still have my pride.



Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, shoes, week 27

18 responses to “The Shoe Astronauts Lied To You.

  1. Fox

    I actually did have one pair of heels that were comfortable (and I am decidedly not a shoe person). Made in the 40s by a custom shoemaker for a weathy woman, plenty of room in the nicely rounded toebox (not a single toe was crowded), high (but not spike) heel, and crocodile. They were absolutely lovely and I wore them and resoled them and resoled them again. Finally the uppers gave out. I never again found a comfortable pair and quit wearing heels (and dress shoes) entirely, opting for athletic shoes with skirts at work and black athletic mary jane style shoes for dressy occasions outside of work.

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  3. anne schreiber

    METARTARSAL………Hmmmm, so that’s what the baby toe is called! Anywho, I haven’t had a toenail there since I was about 15 due to my obsession with pointy shoes/boots. You will never catch me in a round toe anything…..except the sole of my summer flip-flops.
    Some of my pointy shoes/boots REALLY are comfortable but for the others……the look is worth so much more than the pain!

  4. Does this post mean you will forever more stop making fun of me and my Birkenstocks? Because I actually can walk miles in them!

  5. Oh, Amy P. I want to say yes.

    But I think we both know that would be a lie.

    Though I will admit (Very. Grudgingly.) that Birks have gotten quite a bit cuter in recent years. Not Beautiful Shoe cute. But maybe almost on par with Converse cute. And definitely cuter than Dansko. (Sorry again, Dansko.)

  6. Dan

    As the boyfriend mentioned above, it’s worth noting that the bleeding feet resulted in my providing a day-saving piggyback. (It’s also worth noting that I didn’t recall this detail on my own but rather had to be reminded by Virginia).

  7. Caroline

    I love this post!

    I always feel a little bit bad that I am so fierce a feminist, environmentalist, try to be socially aware and scoff and the excess of the US of A, etc….

    and yet I adore shoes and sundresses and chocolate, can’t change a tire, and know nothing about self-defense. I often feel like a walking stereotype/hypocrite. But I love being reminded that we can be and like all these different things, which is what makes us individuals, especially as long as we do it all in a way that is thoughtful and self-aware.

    p.s. I had not heard that story about Dan carrying you and your bloody shoes. Priceless.

  8. Melissa

    Me, I’m not a huge fan of shoes. Maybe because I’m not a huge fan of feet, at least not…you know…aesthetically. When it comes to shopping, though, I do prefer shoe shopping to clothes shopping, for obvious reasons. (As in…which experience is more likely to end in tears, trying on shoes, or trying on clothes? Yeah.)
    I’m glad to hear that the “high heels just don’t bother me” stuff is a lie, though. I’d always wondered, but I couldn’t really confirm, since I don’t wear really high heels myself. I trip over my own feet and fall down all the time even when I’m wearing flats, for cryin’ out loud, so I never wear heels higher than about 2 inches. I like my bones in one piece, thankyouverymuch.

  9. Victoria

    You know what’s funny: I have owned comfortable heels but all four pairs of flats that I own at the moment (rather expensive ones) do hurt my feet – I’m yet to find a pair that wouldn’t take my skin off at the heel or near the fingers

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  12. Ah yes. I was once like you. I had beautiful shoes. Shoes that were almost too pretty to be worn, but they were worn with pride and determination.

    And then I broke my foot. Now I have to wear dorky mary janes by Aravon, an offshoot of New Balance. They are not chic.

    However! I’m relatively young and, honestly, I can’t believe how much damage I’ve already done to my feet. By wearing properly made shoes, I walk better and have better posture and don’t get weird aches like I did in the days of ballet flats, Chucks, and three-inch Miu Miu wedges. It’s easy to see how much trouble the stylish shoes were causing.

    I feel very old-lady saying this, knowing full well that you would be as un-chic as I am were you to take my advice, but cute shoes will ruin your feet faster than you think. And then you wind up being the old lady who hobbles. Or who has bunions.

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  16. Lizza

    I too love shoes – and I too was crippled by some on a date. I’d just bought new wedges which were really comfy, actually, so I thought I could wear them walking around. Nope! Huge bloody blisters!
    I haven’t had the same tolerance for heels since I broke my ankle years ago…*sigh* And I agree with one of the earlier posters, flats hurt my feet a lot more! They always dig in and give me horrendous blisters no matter what!

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