We all know the feeling; shuffling around the office in a pair of squeaky trainers, limping about a wedding as a result of stiff sandals. Shoes that might look fabulous, but are slowly making you lose the will to live. With each step you take, those innocent-looking mules rub and chafe and corrode your skin until all that’s left is the foot equivalent of a mouth ulcer.
The foolish strut of a person who is enjoying the first outing in a brand new pair of shoes is one that any self-respecting voyeur can spot a mile away. As they leave their house to greet the morning sun, they flounce around with all the smugness of the cat who got the cream. By lunchtime, however, it’s clear that the tables have turned. Their happy swagger has now turned into a hobble, while their eyes beg passersby for some sort of escape from their self-imposed shoe hell.
We have all been there, and we will all probably end up there again. Such is the fashion-fuelled lure of laborious wooden clogs, unforgiving leather boots, back-breaking platforms and soul-crushing peep-toes. When will we learn that, as a general rule, the discomfort levels of a shoe are directly proportional to its aesthetic appeal?
Each one of us is a veteran; “sole soldiers” who have faced the battle of the bunion and fallen prey to the brutality of new brogues. In truth we do not deserve to own feet, such is the abuse that we subject them to on a frequent basis.
And yet we continue to dance this painful dance; squishing our innocent little (or big) trotters into strappy sandals that compromise the blood flow to our toes; shoving them into loafers that we know are too small and sliding them into stilettos that wield an unnatural amount of pressure onto the balls of the feet. All for what?
For fashion, that’s what. And because, as women, we are expected to look a certain way. These expectations extend over our entire being; from our coiffed heads to our crumpled toes. The physical heights that society encourages us to reach seem to mirror the metaphorical heights that women stretch themselves towards on a daily basis; striving to be a loving mother, a good employee, an attentive friend and a trendy fashionista, all without showing any glimmer of pain or discomfort.
The stiletto represents our metaphorical pain as much as it does actual pain, and the irony is that the more we continue to engage in this theoretical dance, the less likely we are able to *actually* dance.