I love shoes. I love high heels. I love the objects. I could display them like art pieces. I love their architecture, their perfection. And I love wearing them. I love how they make me feel more energetic, more powerful, taller, but also more fragile.
I usually try to compromise between comfort and height, and manage to find shoes that are more than bearable usually. I believe one's feet need a bit of training to be comfortable in heels, analogously to the training for tight-lacing corsets.
After months of wearing mostly flats (and my beloved pair of Chie Mihara, which are super comfy mid heels), I have taken on wearing heels again. I don't know if it's related to yoga or what, but I'm more comfortable in heels than I've ever been. Hey, even my back is thanking me!
I'm now lusting after a pair of patent pumps at an indecent price. Tried them on today, still pondering. I've never put so much in shoes, so I think another week of good thinking is in order.
I can't help it, I really love shoes. Just like I love lingerie, I think I mostly love wearing them for myself. (I also have realized lately that I tried to dress better lately to fit better with what I think I should look like as a designer. I enjoy that too.) But I can't help being bothered as a feminist: why am I drawn to such hyper-feminizing objects? Why am I self-inflicting something that is, let's not kid myself there, just another layer of discomfort? What does it make me if I feel better/stronger with high heels?
I am of course strongly subjected to gender norms, because I'm living in this society. And I don't think the most feminist person can ever get completely free from those. And I don't think it is intrinsically wrong to believe that men and women are different and to want to be feminine, as long as it doesn't feel mandatory. Shoes exist, its industry is large and produces very appealing items for people who have a keen eye for shapes and composition.
But I shake the feeling that my love for shoes is a sort of sexist trap I fell into. Okay, heels make legs look longer, slimmer, firmer. But first, why should women want to have longer, slimmer and firmer legs? Why always better? Why always perfect? And then, why shouldn't men want the same? I know, I know, it sounds candid, but I'm just writing it as it comes, stating the obvious. It's okay to want to use artifice for aesthetic purpose but why does it have to be uncomfortable or plain painful? And why should women have it way worse than men? Women have heels, make up, waxing, garter belts, stockings... Apart from ties, and maybe shaving, today's men have it pretty easy, I think.
What is interesting is that many items that are nowadays viewed as solely feminine used to be worn by men and women, and even exclusively by men. Men used to wear make up, stockings and heels, and lace used to be the sole property of men before the 16th century. So when did men stop doing crazy things to look pretty? And why? Until now my research has been fruitless so feel free to enlighten me if you are versed on the subject.
A theory I have about the passion that women can have for shoes, which is very comparable to the obsession for lingerie, is that both shoes and bras are, in addition to be stereotypically feminine, very difficult to fit. Some women feel that they “match” one brand more than the other and it is likely to be true. Shoe makers work with shapes that they use to form the leather onto. You'll notice that a particular designer will mostly do only a few particular shapes of shoes, that's because of said forms. The next seasons, they will use these forms for their cheaper line.
Bra sizes, as I rambled about it extensively before
, are absurdly inconsistent and misleading. The chase for the mythic well-fitting bra can be never-ending. The same goes for shoes. Just like breasts, feet come in all sizes and shapes, some are wide, some are narrow, some have one toe that protrudes, some have another, some are asymmetrical... Rationalizing all those data into standard sizes is impossible. So some brands will choose to make mostly narrow shoes, some will arch their heels a certain way, but in the end, no one can ever be comfortable in a given size in every brands.
Just like I'm a 80E/30E, I believe I'm a weird shoe size. After roaming in the department store and trying all the shiny shoes I could spot, mostly in very high end brands, I came to the conclusion that my actual shoe size might be 36 ¼. So either I'm a fucking weird beast, or maybe it's just that I am more informed than most consumers and that I expect products that really fit me. I also think that my Achilles' heel is very flat, because as snug as they are, shoes from some particular brands just won't hold. I take a step and they just slide off. Maybe half of the brands do that (bye bye Sergio Rossi) and the rest stay put. For a woman with a stronger Achilles' heel, the brands that work for me are probably instant blisters makers.
Anyway, that was quite a rambling. I had fun going through the department store and being taken care of by the high-end brands clerks. Now, the girl I am has her mind set on the most expensive pair. I didn't buy anything yet, I'm pondering how reasonable it would be to be unreasonable. :)