I have never understood shoe lust, and this has severely limited my experience of popular culture. Sex and the City references to Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik were completely lost on me. I hate everything about shoes: shopping for them (boring), paying for them (expensive) and wearing them (uncomfortable).
I know, as a woman, I stand virtually alone on this side of the shoe aisle. I have several friends who live for shoes. "My shoe size never changes, no matter what I weigh. I love that about shoes," says one close friend and Shoe-bie. Of course, that's not exactly true: BC (before children) I was a consistent size 8; three pregnancies and four children later, I range between an 8.5 and a 9.
It doesn't take a psychologist to recognize that my shoe phobia probably stems from wearing "corrective" shoes as a child. I was diagnosed as flat-footed and knock-kneed and sent with my mother to a cute podiatrist named Dr. Pancratz. I had a little crush on him, which is the only explanation I have as to why I allowed myself to be tormented by him for years.
The abuse was both physical and mental. Physically, every Saturday he taped my feet, I believe in an attempt to create an arch. I remember having to bathe with my feet hanging out of the tub and having to remove the tape residue every Friday night with nail polish remover. Then there were the bizarre exercises that required me to stand on the edge of a telephone book, extend all the way up on my tiptoes and then slowly stretch my heels down to the floor. Finally, there were the specially made shoe inserts.
Though the inserts contributed slightly to the physical abuse, it was the emotional distress they caused that has left the lasting scars. I have very wide feet and the inserts required my shoes to be even wider (I seem to remember EE). Including inserts, each shoe weighed more than two pounds, creating a somewhat less than graceful gait. More importantly, the shoes were stone ugly. At that time, all the little girls I knew were wearing penny loafers and Mary Jane's. Mine were ridiculous leather lace-up things. For some reason, the manufacturers thought if your foot was wide, the toe part of the shoe should be even wider. In a futile effort to make these boats more "fun", my poor beleaguered mother bought me a blue pair and kicked in the extra buck for red plaid laces. Bozo would have been jealous.
My shoe angst has not subsided in adulthood. Those freaks on "What Not to Wear" have tried to convince us that we are not properly dressed unless we wear high heels (even with jeans). High heels were definitely invented by a man. They are nothing but expensive, self-financed torture devices. Oprah has been quoted as saying: "My feet are still on the ground, I'm just wearing better shoes." That may be true, but I've been to a taping of the Oprah show, and I know for a fact that she takes off those expensive shoes during commercial breaks. Sadly, my life rarely includes a commercial break.