I was in the vile wasteland of Twitter the other day and came across a tweet, where a woman had asked why little-boy-shoes are so much more practical than little-girl-shoes. You can run in sneakers, she implied, not so much in ballerinas. She went on to talk about how that discourages girls from participating in sports and so on, but let’s focus on the bigger picture: bad shoes.
Her argument can be extended to grown-up shoes as well, see. Although ballerinas – or as the street vendors call them, mistakenly and hilariously, belly shoes – aren’t even the worst culprits in this savage shitshow that is women’s footwear.
Women’s shoes – and here I use the word ‘shoes’ to encompass all footwear – are terribly designed. Almost as if someone had some scraps of cardboard and fabric lying around and they went, welp, I guess we can make shoes out of this shit. Because most women’s shoes give our feet the same support that Switzerland gave the Nazis, which is none at all. They offer the same cushioning a cheerful messenger offers a newly-bereaved family when he says, “Guess what, Dad’s popped it.” They’re badly designed, terribly functioning things held together by glue and hope.
But by god, they’re pretty.
You can’t run in them. You can barely walk in some of them. Some, like nine-inch heels, I call “sitting shoes”. You can sit very comfortably in them, but not much else. And they look great. They look so great, in fact, that Pookie recently told me when she grows up she’s going to wear heels. She said this with the happy optimism of someone who had worn nothing but Crocs since she first started wearing shoes. Crocs, which are of course, the other end of the spectrum. Comfortable, durable and about as visually appealing as the arse end of a hippopotamus.
Because, guess what, ladies? You can’t have both.
Pretty and comfortable? What is this, the Make-A-Wish Foundation?
No. Jutties or Mary Janes, sneakers or stilettos, kitten heels or clogs, platforms or pumps, slingbacks or sandals, boots or ballet flats – you can’t have ’em be both. You have a choice.
And for some stupid reason, we choose the pretty ones instead of the comfortable ones. I get the appeal, I really do. I have spent many a thousand on shoes that make my feet look like I twerk in a Jamaican dance-hall for a living. And I have subsequently spent many a night massaging life back into my traumatized calves. Heels are hot, I get it. They make you look sexy and feel powerful, as you tick-tock across the tiles. Heels make you a certain kind of woman. Heels are the reason they say that Grace Kelly did everything Fred Astaire did, and she did it backwards and in heels.
Which sounds fantastic, but didn’t she deserve a little arch-support while she was at it?
A few years ago I saw a client sashay around a shoot in pencil heels. I’m jealous, I told her, I don’t know how you do it. I certainly can’t walk around in those. Oh, the trick is to practice, she told me. Start with half an hour and increase the time slowly.
Which is sheer lunacy, if you ask me.
I shouldn’t have to practice walking! I’m not a horse readying for a show! Or a toddler. Can you imagine telling a man, hey, these really hot kicks here, you gotta practice WALKING in them first! Of course not. There hasn’t been a pair of men’s shoes made that you have to fucking practice walking in. On the other hand, I have stumbled in flats – FLATS – because they didn’t so much have a sole as an ambitious card paper underneath them. They were pretty, gorgeous, beautiful, BAD shoes. Perfect for walking around your carpeted living room if there is no furniture around to stub your toe against.
So just don’t buy them, I hear you say. I don’t. I’ve taken to wearing sneakers or sneaker-like shoes, or shoes with enough padding and cushioning to make them look like orthopedic footwear. But despite the back issues, and the knee issues and assorted foot issues, I haven’t actually resorted to wearing orthopedic footwear yet.
’Cause it ugly.
Perhaps one day we will have lovely little kitten heels that are beautifully engineered. Sexy stilettoes you can walk in without having to fucking practice. Platforms you can catch a train in (haha, pun!) without throwing an ankle.
Till then however, I will just have to do everything Fred Astaire did, backwards and in Vans.