Ceci N'est Pas Une Shopping Post: Meditations on Fashion, Footwear, Freedom, and Flight
One of the more delightful physical changes I experienced while gestating my second daughter was permanent foot enlargement. Luckily, I wasn't surprised by this since it had also happened while I was gestating my first daughter. Unluckily, for the second time in three years I had to clean out my closet and replace my entire shoe wardrobe. Normal women might find this prospect fun, but given my established angst about shopping, I generally find it stressful and fruitless. I have had some luck recently in finding some gems, though, such as these:
So what if they're from an established mom comfort brand? They're shiny and look vaguely deco from the top. What's not to love?
And, oh God, you'd better sit down for this, these:
Have you every seen anything so beautiful in your life? NO. You haven't. Don't lie to me, fools.
Both pairs of shoes meet all my standard shoe criteria. 1. They suit situational needs (I need goin' out shoes, and these coordinate nicely with a lot of things I already have.). 2. They suit budgetary needs (The black wedges are less than $50 at DSW, and the peacock platforms are beautifully made and were under $100.). 3. They're aesthetically pleasing (Just look at them, people. I want to lick both pairs just because they look so much like shiny, colorful candy.). 4. I can run like Hell from imminent violence and immediate danger in them if I have to.
Did one of the entries on that list surprise you? Perhaps one is not a standard consideration for most women shopping for pretty, formal footwear? Could it be that "Can I fucking flee in these?" was not among your top concerns when purchasing your last pair of heels? Hear me out, and P.S., I am not a crackpot, although I do look like one when I practice jogging in heels in shoe stores. I grew up in a small town on a somewhat rural road. A close friend once went on a date with a man, and the two were driving on my road when this man decided that he needed road head NOW and that he was going to get it by any means necessary. He pulled over, whipped it out, and got forceful. Her only choice? To take off the stilettos she wore on the date, get out of the car, and start running on the outskirts of the quarry near my home. Ultimately the guy realized "Holy shit, this is not standard sexytimes practice - perhaps I'd better avoid prosecution by making nice while I can" before she could shred her feet too badly by running on the sharp rocks, promised to behave, and gave her a ride home and nowhere else ever again, thank goodness. Obviously the upshot of that story is that that guy is a sick would-have-been rapist and should suffer mightily in his life. But the B story for me is its terrifying image of desperate flight and intentional hobbling in the name of fashion. A more frightening version of this image played out for a different friend on 9/11. She was on her way to a meeting at the World Trade Center in her best suit and heels and exited the subway to find herself surrounded by chaos, fire, falling debris, and all the horrors of that day. Like so many others downtown, she had to run. She ditched her heels and began pounding the pavement barefoot amid all the rubble littering the city's streets for blocks and blocks until, finally, somewhere in the Village and far enough into safety to slow down and consider the damage she'd done to herself, she was able to beg a pair of flip flops off of a shoe store. Now, I'm just one fairly average person who knows a low to average number of people, and I have two terrifying stories about friends needing to ditch the most basic element of useful gear when it was most needed because their version of it actually offered no utility whatsoever. This leads me to believe that, regardless of the rarity of the terrorist attack and consequent catastrophe that I reference in the second example, this is a somewhat common story among women. It is also, apologies to those who have lived it, kind of a silly story.
Just out for a jog...
We women do a lot of silly things to conform to standard notions of beauty. We all know this, and most of us participate in silly practices because, regardless of the silliness, we either enjoy their results (Hey, I like having two eyebrows instead of one!) or the benefits that the results afford (Hey, I can more easily get hired with two eyebrows instead of one!). But wearing shoes that make it difficult to walk, let alone run, because they're considered "pretty" is giving primacy to form over function to a foolhardy degree. Ladies, I get that we want our feet to be pretty. But can we also agree to make sure that our feet are functional, too? Can we agree that we have enough value to ensure that we can take care of ourselves in an emergency, even if that means relegating our fuck-me heels solely to the activity of fucking? Failing that, can we at least all agree to have a pair of functional shoes that allow us to be functional people within our reach if we do wear stunt shoes out and about? Because, friends, bad shit happens, and it'd be so much better if we could all run away from bad shit in equal measure, men and women, because we all just wore some goddamn shoes. I am fully aware that the timing of this post in relation to the bombings in Boston seems intentional. It is not. This post was planned for this week before the marathon bombings, so perhaps publishing it now seems opportunistic. Hopefully it doesn't, but I am willing to risk it because I feel its importance that much more urgently because of the recent tragedy. After all, as eyewitness Jared Walker reported during his brief interview with Rachel Maddow on Monday night, Boston police had one instruction for people in the immediate aftermath of the bombings: Run. So, ladies, let's make sure that we can.