April 21, 2004
I don’t really have that many pairs of shoes. Honest, any woman would understand! I have two pairs I wear for everything, and assorted other pairs that I wear on certain occasions, only they are never exactly what I’m looking for. So, for all intents and purposes, I only have two pairs of shoes, and I need some more!
This weekend Mom and I went on a shoe-hunting mission. I have been searching unsuccessfully for a year now for the “right” clogs to replace my old faithfuls before the holes in the insoles get large enough to swallow my feet. Mom has been on a similar search for a replacement pair of favorite shoes. We both found exactly what we wanted at our first stop, in the first half hour of shoe-gazing, but that didn’t stop us from trying on shoes for another couple hours, nor continuing on to another store the next day where we tried on shoes for two more hours.
What is the fascination with something as humble and basic as shoes? I think it’s twofold.
Trying on shoes allows you to be other people. I never gave this much thought till one day Mom and I were browsing the shoe aisle and I tried on a pair of ridiculous platform shoes. Now, I am 4’11”, and I always dreamed of reaching five feet. (I like to say this is symbolic of my life—always an inch short of my dreams!) Those of you who consider yourselves “short” at 5’2” cannot comprehend the thrill I felt as I gazed down, way down, at my shopping cart and looked at shelves at eye level, and realized that this was how other people viewed the world. And it’s so easy to try on different styles in a flash—no tedious undressing and redressing in stuffy dressing rooms. Slip on a pair of casual leather sandals, and you’re all trendy and sporty. Toss them aside and put on some dressy heels, and you are imagining you have a dress to go with such shoes, and someplace to wear them.
Also, the shoe aisle is a level playing field. Size 11’s happily nestle beside the 6’s and 7’s, or at least in the same aisle. There is no “plus size” department banished to the farthest corner of the store where the ostracized “real people” are forced to shop from a limited selection of some designer’s conception of what fat people like, rather than simply larger sizes of what so-called “average” people have available to choose from. There is no store that everybody knows caters only to fat people so you feel self-conscious even walking in there—there is just a shoe store, and you shop alongside people of all shapes and sizes, maybe even buying the same exact style (or size!) as that cute, skinny blonde trying on shoes right next to you. Maybe you even share a snicker or exclamation over a pair of shoes that is particularly hideous or cute. Right here, right now, you’re equals.
And, for the record… Mom and I each bought only the pair of shoes we went shopping for. The fun was in the shopping—the buying was optional.