CSSB: Assumptions about women and shoes

How many pairs of shoes do you have?

I don’t have that many.

No, really, I don’t have that many. That wasn’t code for ‘not that many for a woman’.

So here’s the role call:

Black work shoes (slightly broken, but still wearable, I wear these most days)

White pumps (bought to wear with summer clothes)
Black slip on pumps (bought to wear with summer clothes and around the house)
White patent pumps (My wedding shoes)

Black lace up tennis shoes (bought for wearing on the canal boat – lightweight and sturdy)
Black trainers (bought for working on a summer scheme, now used for the gym)

Black fur lined winter boots
Brown knee high boots (bought for me as a gift)

Black high heels
Brown heeled court shoes
Purple heeled court shoes

I also have a couple of pairs of flip flops for use when I go swimming and some slipper socks for the winter.

My husband thinks I have too many shoes. Sometimes when I’m tidying them up and putting them away, I agree with him but given that they are all useful for different purposes I would struggle to choose which ones to throw out. Many of them cost less than £5, some of them were from charity shoes, some were bought from supermarkets. I don’t really go in for the expensive shoe shopping thing.

Truth is, I find shopping for shoes intensely frustrating. I’m an annoying size, 6.5 – size 6 is too small, size 7 is too loose. So just finding some that fit comfortably can be difficult. I don’t wear that many outlandish colours, I know what suits me and what colours are in my wardrobe, and they are fairly easy to accessorize – brown, black and white does the trick pretty nicely.

I don’t understand the compulsion that drives some women to have a pair of shoes to match each outfit. How many colours can there possibly be that need an exact match? I mean, black goes with most things. For ten years I had one pair of black high heeled shoes from Barratts which served me for every wedding, party, every night out, fancy dinner, college ball and social event. I wore them until the elastic in the ankle strap snapped and then replaced them with another pair, as similar as I could muster, purchased for £3.99 on Ebay.

I really don’t get the fascination that the media paints the women as having with shoes.

My female companions, being practical geeks, may not be the best straw poll of examples, but I don’t know anyone who obsessively collects shoes. If anyone does, it’s generally the vintage variety for larping and period costumes. But everywhere I turn in the Media, there’s an assumption that a women desires, more than anything, new shoes – it’s literally become a caricature in the form of Sex And The City’s Carrie Bradshaw and her Manolo Blahnik obsession.

I mean, makeup I can kind of understand because it’s on your face. It’s in everyone’s eye line. The impact you create with a smile, with a first glance, with your expression, can all be enhanced with a little colour, powder and texture. I can also understand clothes. I mean, I blog about clothes – clothes are great, I love buying new ones, I love feeling comfortable in them and knowing that I look good. But shoes?

They’re on the end of your feet. They’re down on the floor. More often than not, they’re half concealed by your trouser ends or long skirts, or they’re tucked under tables or hidden under chairs. Shoes do not make that much of an impact. I never look at people’s shoes. My husband claims he doesn’t either, and I believe him. Do you know how many people have ever passed comment on my shoes since I left school? Not one. That’s why I don’t really bother changing them that much.

I did get some bullying at school over my shoes. Mostly because I wore trainers that were more than three months old and liked wearing sandals in the summer rather than mules. But truth be told, if I had changed my shoes those people would have found something else to pick on me for. When I wore boots instead, it was my Manchester United scarf that attracted comments. When it wasn’t my scarf, it was my hairstyle. When it wasn’t my hairstyle it was the fact I was often upset and depressed, especially after the death of my grandfather and grandmother. The problems I endured at school weren’t really to do with my shoes, they were to do with assholes looking for an emotional cut to rub salt into.

What is it about shoes for women? I honestly would love to know, because it seems like something about being a ‘Woman’ is eluding me in not understanding this. Anyone got any theories?

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