June 09, 2005

If the shoe fits

There's an interesting discussion going on over at Bitch's about gendered children's clothing. The comment thread over there got so long, that I decided to write my comment here.

Over twenty years ago, before I had kids of my own, I spent one spring and summer teaching elementary school kids how to use computers. I ate lunch in an empty teachers' lounge, near an open window that overlooked the school playground. While I ate my sandwich, I watched the kids on the playground.

Here's one of the first things I noticed: the boys were all running around, yelling and screaming, climbing on stuff and having a good time. About half the girls were doing the same thing. But half of the girls were just sitting quietly on the sidelines, talking and such.

I puzzled over this behavior. Why did some girls feel free to run and play, while others felt they had to sit quietly? Did some of the girls just have quiet personalities?

I looked for external causes. My first hypothesis was that clothing might be a factor: many of the girls wore dresses while the boys wore shorts. I counted carefully for several days, making notes in my journal. (Yes, really, I am that much of a nerd.) But clothing did not seem to make a difference. Little girls wearing dresses were just as likely to climb the monkey bars or jump off the swings as the girls wearing shorts.

Since I knew most of the kids, I tried to make a hypothesis based on their personalities, but I could not come up with anything. Outgoing girls seemed just as likely to be sitting on the sidelines as shy kids. It didn't make sense.

Then one day, I noticed a boy teasing one of the girls who was sitting down. She got up to chase him, but kept slipping on the pavement. She gave up and sat back down with her friends. That is when I noticed her shoes. She had on these shoes with slippery soles. I don't know if these kind of shoes still exist (I suspect they do), but we always just called them "pretty shoes" or "dress-up shoes."

In looking at the kids' clothing, I had completely overlooked the shoes. Now I studied their feet. The boys wore sneakers or sensible rubber-soled shoes. The girls who were racing about with the boys, running and climbing and having fun, had on sensible shoes. Some of them were gendered by colour (after all, we wouldn't want unisex hand-me-downs, because that would cut in half the amount of money a new parent could contribute to the cause of consumerism), but still, they were shoes that encouraged running and jumping and climbing.

On most days, nearly 80 percent of the girls sitting on the sidelines were wearing "pretty shoes."

I've since wondered how many "feminine" and "masculine" traits that our culture accepts as biological are caused by simple things like gendered choices in footwear. When I used to attend corporate dinners with my husband (before he got fed up with corporate life and quit that job), I'd watch women wearing high heels even on nights when the pavements everywhere were covered with ice. Women were always complaining about how their feet hurt, sitting down because their lower backs ached, or taking their shoes off in order to dance. The men, in the mean time, were able to mingle and walk about all evening, their feet comfortable in sensible shoes. At the end of the evening, it was common to see a huddle of women, balanced precariously on high heels, clustered near the entrance way, helpless when it came to facing the icy sidewalks. They would stand in a helpless clump, waiting while the men went to get the cars and pick them up.

At least one husband told me he thought that heels were sexy because he liked how it made his wife dependent on him: going out to get the car made him feel like the big strong man taking care of his wife. (Yes, I'm paraphrasing , and yes, he was quite drunk.) A woman, one of the upper level corporate managers, told me that she hated wearing heels but that they were part of the unwritten dress code. She was bitter about the trips she would be taking to the podiatrist from the footwear she felt obligated to wear. "Men in the corporate world are not expected to cripple themselves for the job." (No, I'm not paraphrasing here. And she was not drunk.)

When I buy shoes for my kids, I always ask the kid to put the shoes on. Then I tell him or her to run around the store. I refuse to buy a pair of shoes that is not conducive to running, climbing, and jumping.

I put my own shoes through the same test. Because to be honest, I don't like feeling helpless. I don't find the role of helpless woman sexy in the slightest. I can remember my karate teacher talking about the best way to react if attacked. You have one chance to strike your assailant and then run like hell. "And if you are a woman wearing heels?" someone asked. He shrugged. "Better have a man with you to protect you."


timna said...

yes. yes. yes.
shoes, to me, get put on in the morning and ideally do not get thought about again all day long. if I have to think about them, they're not good for me.

Oliver said...

That is an excellent post jo(e)... I've never been out with a girl who wore high heels regularly, but if I did - I don't think I'd find it sexy because they couldn't walk! I guess all men like to have a purpose though, however bizarre (we seem to overlook love and affection as reason enough, because we can't hammer it in or switch it on!). That's a lot of food for though, I like the way you write.

negativecapability said...

The helplessness factor is interesting. I like wearing heels for certain occasions that are fun primarily for their dress-up factor (excepting if there is ice - not an issue anywhere I've ever lived). It's because sometimes I want to look/feel hot, but I hate being helpless. Some of the shoes I own aren't necessarily conducive to running and jumping, but a cardinal rule is that they MUST stand up to standing and walking without aid of some kind. Perhaps some women choose certain kinds of heels precisely for the helplesness factor?

With that said, I own two pairs of doc martens and a pair of ancient reef flip-flops that serve me well 90 percent of the time.

jo(e) - I put my blog back up if you're interested.

Anonymous said...

When this post started, I was sure the culprit was going to be the dress/skirt or pants issue. But shoes! It makes most sense, doesn't it. Excellent insight.

I've very happy with my daughter's school...their policy is to frown upon (though, thankfully not prohibit) dresses and skirts because it (to paraphrase) restricts their independence. I'll have to go back and see if shoes are addressed.

Thanks again. I've only started reading your posts and, uniformly, the are excellent.


Danny said...

I was out with a group of boys once, and wanted to run, but the boys said they couldn't run in the shoes they were wearing. I looked at the shoes. They looked like regular sneakers to me. The only thing was, they were laced differently, with the laces tucked in so that they couldn't be tied. Instead, they were just worn loosely, and flopped when the boys walked. This is the "in" style for boys around here, and I laugh, because they can't even keep the shoes on their feet.

Laura said...

I'm going to totally mess this up because it's been a long time since I've read the readings (and I haven't read Dr. B's post or comments which may already mention this) but it reminds me of a reading we did of Huck Finn using Judith Butler's idea of gender as performance (which includes dress). In the scene where Huck (or is it Tom?) is dressed as a girl, he is outed because he catches a ball like a boy. These small behaviors are taught or learned and not innate. And girls, by the way, caught balls in their skirts, tying the behavior to their dress.

PPB said...

My nieces refuse to wear anything but dresses and skirts....despite all attempts by their parents to persuade them otherwise. They climb monkey bars, barrell down slides, play soccer, etc.--all in skirts. They say shorts are too hot. (They live in California). But they wear sneakers or sturdy sandals every day. Sometimes they ask for the "Sunday shoes", but Sunday shoes are for Sunday only. Of course, it helps that my nieces are young enough that they don't care who sees what's on under these little dresses---in fact, Kim Possible underwear is a point of pride.

I wonder which they'll give up once they get told that underwear is not for public viewing---the skirts? or the roughhousing? I know which one I would vote for.

Purple Hydrangea said...

Hi jo(e)..
I have recently started reading your blog and I just have to say I LOVE IT.
Shoes.. hum.. I was never a girly girl and still not one. However, my step-monster had me wearing blue nurse-style wedge shoes in the 5th grade because she thought they were more "proper" than sneakers and I wouldnt be caught dead in "girly" shoes. Of course she also made me wear polyester old lady pants when all the other girls were wearing DITTOS, but that's another story altogether!! ;0)
I was, however, one of the kids who played on the jungle-gym, dodge-ball and four-square with the guys... so in retrospect I guess it was not all that bad!
I currently prefer no shoes or socks at all, and usually wear either sandles or clogs year round -- doesn't matter if it is raining or not.

dr. m(mmm) aka The Notorious P.H.D. said...

It's funny that I read the first line about a discussion regarding gendered childeren's clothing as a discussion about clothing for gendered children. I thought to myself, in similar Judith Butler terms (gender performativity a la ethnomethodology), that all children are gendered (or are always already gendered, as it were).

Anyway, this post made me remember the short time that I was teaching at a Montessori school in Tempe, AZ (this was about 15 years ago). As clear as the day it happened, I remember this little girl, less than three years old, looking up at me and my earrings and proceeding to tell me that only girls wear earrings. They learn these intricate sets of (moral/regulatory) rules early, often, and quickly.

jo(e) said...

Dr. M: Yeah, it's amazing how early on kids learn the strict gender roles in our cultue. (And yeah, I should have said...gendered clothes for children ... it's too hot to edit today.)

Hey, negative capability -- glad to see you're back. I'll have to come over to your blog and say hello.

PPB: The school I was K-3 so I don't think these girls were old enough to care about modesty. I wonder if skirts would have inhibited older kids. Then again, a skirt would not stop me from doing a cartwheel or going down a slide or climbing monkey bars ... and I'm 44.

Phantom Scribbler said...

You better believe that I will have this post in mind when I go to buy my daughter her first -- and all subsequent -- shoes.

liz said...

Thanks for this post Jo(e)! Serious food for thought.

purple_kangaroo said...

Great post! Heels drive me crazy . . . for a very occasional special occasion, I might wear them. But other than that I just don't. In fact, it's probably been a year since I've worn traditional heels. Why wear shoes that hurt your feet, distract you from having a good time and make you grouchy, make it hard to walk, and can do permanent damage to your legs?

I buy dress shoes that look nice and have a bit of a lift, but don't feel like heels and don't hinder my walking. Or I just wear flats.

My favorite pair of shoes are Dr. Scholls flat Mary-Jane style shoes. They're even more comfortable than sneakers to me, don't sqeeze my toes, and have gel insoles--but they look nice enough to wear with most dresses.

My girls, on the other hand, wear sneakers or cowhand-style boots with their dresses half the time. :)

Oh, one more note about dresses . . . my mom used to put us in dresses with short underneath so we could run and play without having to worry about modesty. I like the Hanna Andersson play/day dresses for that reason too.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Wow, that was insightful. Between this and Bitch's post I feel like I've really learned something.

The nice part of B's post that doesn't come up here is that gendered clothing is a two sided loss. Girls loose the chance to be active, and boys loose the chance to be pretty. My family went to payless yesterday, and the first thing we noticed is that all of my options were, um, hideous.

I wonder if a third factor might be at work in the shoe/quiet play correlation. Perhaps both are outcomes of parents with big gender expectations, and there actually isn't much causal interaction between the shoes and the play themselves.

wolfa said...

I will start by saying that I like heels, and I wear them about half of the time. I am careful to wear shoes that are comfortable from the get-go, and my most comfortable pair of shoes are heels -- I can run in them better than in my beloved ballet flats, say. (The winter thing is silly: buy a shoe bag if you feel like you can't go around wearing the same shoes inside and on the snow.)

Because I am short, and there is a huge disadvantage in being short. Heels make me average height, and this makes life much easier.

I agree there are disadvantages to heels, too, but fine: I don't wear them biking, or hiking, and I am careful about the shoes I buy in general.

The thing that bothers me, though, is the "don't wear heels because someone might attack you" argument. It's a choice you might want to make, fine, but you might also want to make the choice to never go outside alone at night, or to not wear revealing clothes, because those, too, increase your risk. But in the end, these arguments are just barely the flip side of "so if you do wear heels/lowcut clothes/go out at night alone, then you should've known better and it's your fault."

jo(e) said...

Rob: I think you are right. It seems that the kind of parents who would send their girls to school wearing "pretty shoes" might be the ones who are enforcing rigid gender stereotypes in all sorts of ways. I guess my theory is that getting parents to think about what kind of shoes they buy for their daughters might get them to question some of their (perhaps subconscious) gender stereotypes.

wolfa said...

Though I don't think, jo(e), that you were making that particular argument. But I think "don't do X in case someone assaults you" is a bad argument against X.

Friday Mom said...

Here here, Jo(e)! I own only sensible shoes and always will, and despite my mom's best efforts to get me to wear my dress shoes to school, I resisted and won. My reason: it would be impossible to play kickball in slick dress shoes.

jo(e) said...

Wolfangel: I should hope our culture is way past blaming a rape victim for what she wore. (Sadly, we probably aren't.)

My point was that I don't like the way heels make a woman more helpless. Not being able to run -- that is a helpless feeling to me. It's the feeling I'm talking about. The fashion in our culture rarely dictates that men wear shoes that make them incapable of running or defending themselves.

I have heard women say that heels make them taller, which puts them more on the level with men. I don't really get that myself. I would need to be 8 inches taller to be the same height as my husband. I can't see that an inch or two is going to make a difference.

I have a friend who says that low heels are comfortable for her because she is "overly pronated" (something a podiatrist told her). But I know many, many women who wear heels DESPITE the fact that they cause them all kinds of aches and pains, and I think that says something sad about our culture.

I used to take my elderly aunt to a podiatrist all the time and I asked the podiatrist why the waiting room was always filled with women. "Don't men have problems with their feet?" She said, sure, they do, but 80 percent of her patients were women. She added, "Blame the fashion industry."

What Now? said...

I've learned interesting things about gender by watching my niece, who's turning 4 next week. She's far, far girlier than anyone else in the family and wants to wear a dress every single day, something her parents have discouraged her in but to no avail. At the same time, she's an incredible "tomboy" (to use gendered language) and wants to climb, run, work on her toolbench, go canoing and hiking, etc. One thing I've noticed is that she wears hiking boots and tennis shoes much of the time, even with her dresses, and that her new favorite pair of shoes are Mary Jane-like shoes with a little flower on the strap (she *loves* the flower) but with rubber soles, so they don't impede her running around at all.

All of which is to say that I think you're really on to something here, and I've been pleased to realize that at least some shoe manufacturers are now making "feminine" shoes with "masculine" practicality. And, as Rob points out, perhaps the next step should be "masculine" shoes with "feminine" prettiness.

wolfa said...

We are nowhere near past blaming victims for being victimised, so I think that it's important not to do so, even marginally.

Not wanting to feel helpless is fine. Not liking heels is fine. But it's also reasonable to like them.

As someone noted, there is the style of not-tying shoes and of wearing pants at your knees which would hinder teenage boys, but yes, in general women's clothing is more restrictive than men's. And I grant that my liking of things like that is partially gendered, but so is my liking of pink.

Sure, I've dated men who are nearly a foot taller than me. I've dated men who are shorter than me once I put on heels, too (about which, sadly, he complained). But it's not just about being on the level with men. It's being able to see over racks in some stores. It's being able to hold onto the overhead bars in busses and metros. It's being able to reach into that many more cabinets without finding a chair to climb onto.

Yankee T said...

Older Daughter only ever wore sneakers or sturdy sandals as a tiny girl, except for the pair of "party shoes" which were just that-like PPB's nieces' Sunday Shoes. On her second birthday, she was going to bed before the party ended (I couldn't get rid of her adult friends) and she begged to go to bed with them on...so I let her. As a teenager, she loves girly-girl heels, but always carries them and wears comfortable flats to and from parties and dances. I tell her if she wrecks her feet with crappy shoes, it's on her!
YD? Basketball shoes or comfy dress shoes only. Can't stand being uncomfortable.

Rana said...

I'm definitely a big one for comfort and practicality. Lots of Birks, with a few hiking boots and sneakers thrown in too. But I also have some heels and party boots (I love shoes, what can I say?). Still, even those have to be things I can stand and walk in, and run in a pinch. I have one much favored pair of heels I got in Australia, and I've worn out the rubber on the heel twice now. It's a big, chunky heel, and thus perfectly adequate for running in (as I did, across nearly half a mile of campus once, when I was late for graduation), but it wears through far more often than I'd like. I avoid stilettoes, and I _hate_ those pointy-pointy witch-toed shoes. Even if I didn't have my poor mother's bunioned feet to warn me off them, I wouldn't ever buy them -- there's no way for me to wear them without pain.

(I also have wide fronts, high arches and narrow heels, making most purchases other than strapped sandals and lace-ups iffy, but that's another story.)

I get around the underwear-under-the-skirt thing by wearing bike shorts under my short skirts: do it your self skort! It's the most awesome thing when hiking, traveling, just puttering around.

I don't like constraining clothing, and yoga just heightened that dislike. Panty hose are the utter worst, with underwire bras a close second.

For me, the problem is less gender expectations and more those associated with "looking professional."

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

"For me, the problem is less gender expectations and more those associated with 'looking professional.'"

ungh. looking professional.

That one is so hard for me to figure out. The standard line is "academics wear whatever they want--its a perk of the job." But it is just not true. First of all, what you wear can affect how students interact with you dramatically and unpredictably. Your teaching style and the different expectations of different students can change everything.

Second, in philosophy at least, you still have to wear your best suit for job inteviews. This is true even when the people you interview with are laid-back and informal.

Third, once you are accepted in the community of Important People At Research Universities, there is actually some kind of tacit contest going on to see who can look like the biggest freak who doesn't care at all how he looks. This level of power is dominated by men with extravagant, unkempt beards.

All this leads to the weird situation where the more power you have, the more likely you are to look like shit. I find it incredibly difficult to navigate the system of sartorial codes.

Ok, that was way off topic, but I needed to vent about work clothing.

lawmom said...

Man, you have issues with heels. I agree that there is no reason in the world to put kids (girls or boys) in shoes they can't run around and climb in. But really, you feel helpless in heels? Heels to me are one of the fun things about being a woman. I like fabulous shoes. Not every pair of shoes needs to be something I can hike five miles in. Just for you, jo(e), friday shoe blogging will be a particularly ridiculous pair of heels that probably only good for a party with lots of seventies dance music.

jo(e) said...

Lawmom: For me, the fun and fabulous things about being a woman include pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. And multiple orgasms.

But wearing high heels? That is just something constructed by the dominant culture. Much like foot binding in Chinese culture. Something like that simply does not have the power to make me feel feminine.

Hey, it's fair game to argue about shoes, but let's not mock seventies dance music. I was a teenager in the seventies, you know .... I love seventies dance music. Please do not tell your husband that. I know he would mock me for it.

jo(e) said...

Rob and Rana: Oh, the pressures to wear "professional" clothing -- that's another whole post .... Rob, your analysis is right on target.

Mirty said...

I'm all about comfortable shoes. I have found, though, that some high-heeled shoes, as long as they have a large, square toe-box and the heel isn't too high, are quite comfortable for me. Usually, though, I wear mocassins or sneakers, even to work. Could be why I'm not an executive??? (No, I'm sure there's more to it than that.)

iBeth said...

GREAT post. re: shoes for me--I do not wear heels because of an orthopedic disability, and I am so glad that I have a good excuse to not wear them, since so many of my colleagues seem to try to outdo each other on number/expense of uncomfortable shoes. re: shoes for kids--recently I have been shocked by how many little girls are being dressed in "fashionable" flip flops. They can't possibly run or climb in them. Most of the girls just kick them off so they can play in bare feet, but for outdoor play in these sizzling southern climes, shoes allow more freedom than bare feet.

Lucy Tartan said...

I'm all for heels - and platforms, too. The heeled shoes in my wardrobe are not restrictive or uncomfortable. They just make me taller, and I like that. I like the way they look. I don't get why this should make me some kind of hoodwinked, put-upon victim of "the dominant culture." Why shouldn't a fully responsible and intelligent adult person enjoy clothes and costume and all the elaborate ritual and identity-shaping that goes along with these things?

jo(e) said...

Laura: I'm all for people enjoying clothes and costumes and identity-shaping rituals. (I will point out that having a closet full of shoes to choose from is something only women of a certain class can afford. So certainly there is an element of classicism in the way women brag about how many shoes they have. Consumerism is another cultural force at play: obviously the idea that a woman needs twenty pairs of shoes for one pair of feet supports a consumer culture.)

Sure some low heels or chunky heels might be comfortable for some women, depending on the structure of their feet. By high heels I was referring to those shoes in which a woman is expected to balance her weight on a narrow little column that is a couple inches long. I don't know any podiatrist who would say that kind of shoe is healthy. In fact, women in American culture have four times the foot problems than men do, and most podiatrists attribute this to high heels.

I would never criticize an individual woman's choice of footwear. But when anyone promotes the idea of women wearing high heels -- and promotes the myths that accompany that -- I do feel like I should speak up. I would like my daughter and nieces to grow up in a culture where they feel encouraged to wear healthy, comfortable shoes.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I was a tomboy and the kind of kid who always wore sneakers--black high-tops. When I became a teenager and occasionally wanted to go to a dance, I just couldn't seem to master the heels--found them awkward and horribly uncomfortable. I felt like an outcast for a time and was glad when I outgrew that phase and was able to appreciate myself for who I was and have friends who loved me as I was and no longer had to struggle to fit into a female stereotype I never fit into once in my life. Here's a vote for sensible shoes.

One of my daughters loves shoes (was she switched in the hospital--no!), and I honor her choices and those of other people like her. You go girl--but please honor my choices, too!!!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

PS, I agree with timna!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

My father was a closet writer. I didn't discover this until long after I'd become a writer. (My maternal grandmother was a writer, too.)

My father wrote a piece on the shoes in his closet. It was interesting and funny and if I knew where it was, I'd post it here. He had quite a few shoes, as I remember it.

I have no heels, but I have a fair number of shoes too--light hikers and heavy-duty hikers, tevas, birks and Merril sandals, each for a different purpose. Snow mocs, which I live in (in cooler weather). Running shoes, BOG SHOES (yes, bog shoes. You don't want to wear good shoes in the bog!), mocassins (slippers). But in the summer, I mostly prefer to go bare-footed!

I still only have one pair of feet. Shoes are a very important "wardrobe" item because the comfort and utility of the feet affects every other aspect of our lives! (I HATE the word wardrobe, it makes me think of people which way too much disposable income!) I like clothes to be useful and utilitarian and if they look nice too, great.

Autumn said...

I'm on the pro-heel list too. Mainly because the heal is comfortable for me when compared to shoes without proper arch support. I have a high arch and heels seems to help.

However, last summer I slid down the stairs at work, twisting my ankle to the point where the company doctor nearly strapped sneakers on my feet. I got proper arch supports, and I will say my feet never felt better then in them.

I live in sandles, flip flops, and strappy heals when I can't go barefoot - as a massage therapist I fortunetly can work barefoot and I love it.

I also can run and jump in most of my heals - those I can't I can kick off - I used to practice my cheerleading jumps in heels for balance.

jo(e) said...

Do we have to divide ourselves into pro-high-heel and anti-high-heel factions? Perhaps the high heels vs. the low heels? It sounds like a Dr. Seuss book.

I am saying that that the dominant culture puts pressure on women to wear shoes that are uncomfortable and will lead to foot problems. I hate that high heels are part of the stereotype of what it means to be a woman. That bothers me. I would like to see a culture in which women felt empowered to wear whatever they felt like.

Scrivener said...

high heels vs. the low heels

Sorry, did I read that right? For a second, I thought you said "big-endians vs. little-endians."

I would like to see a culture in which women felt empowered to wear whatever they felt like.

Hear! Hear! And you know, maybe it's not quite so crucial or revolutionary, but can I just add in two words? I would like to see a culture in which women and men felt empowered to wear whatever they felt like. Oh, hell, just for simplicity's sake, how about I would like to see a culture in which people felt empowered to wear whatever they felt like.

jo(e) said...

That's funny, Scrivener. I was going to refer to Jonathan Swift but then used Dr. Seuss instead because I was worried that no one reads Gulliver's Travels any more ....

Dr. Sniffly said...

I can't even imagine having a job that would require heels. Ouch.

You've got it right with the gendered footwear. And it's been that way a while, certainly ... the little girls I grew up with were barely able to run because their parents would have them in little "pretty shoes" or flip-flops all summer.

The other thing I remember from childhood is that the other girls couldn't run around because they'd get in trouble if they got their clothes dirty. I can't remember a little boy ever saying that, and I'd be willing to bet the boys had no such restriction.

Dr. Sniffly said...

Oh, and about the pro-heels vs. anti-heels thing: I too love high platforms, when I feel like it. But high heels as a part of the daily required "uniform" for women in business, required whether the wearers are comfortable in them or not, is crap.

Amanda said...

Great post. I was nodding my head all the way through it. About "professional" dress expectations: I have to say, one of the perks of being a librarian is that nobody ever questions your right to wear sensible footwear. :)

I've blogged (here) about my own irritation at the women's shoe industry. Not long ago I got so fed up that I went over to the men's section of the shoe store and started trying on oxfords. (Luckily I have big enough feet for that.) I tried on six or seven pairs in rapid succession, and every single one of them fit properly and was comfortable. I think that says it all right there.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I have an issue with shoes and also with bags, and am afraid if I say what I think, I will alienate everyone. But I did write a little piece about it, specifically about a certain bag: http://nopolar.blogspot.com/2005/06/naugahyde-bag.html

if you decide to hate me after reading it, please don't be TOO mean about it. Mary

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

That's at No Polar Coordinates, http://nopolar.blogspot.com/, June 16, 2005.

Mieke said...

This is a great post and triggered my own post on the subject of raising girls. Thank you.

Keith said...

Read it all. I always assumed that women wore heels and "stylish" shoes as a sort of competition with each other, but that as a group, were being victimized by the fashion industry, Thar's gold in them thar heels!

Sarah says she is so tall already, she enjoys wearing heels to make her taller still...

To each her own, I guess. Before M came into my life, I always resisted wearing sneakers, but M suggested, I tried, and in some situations they make sense. I'm sure most people looking at my feet would consider them an improvement over my work boots.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I'm certainly not interested in competing with anyone by having fancy shoes! Ugh!

Joey said...

For those of you that abhor the dress code for women at offices that require heels...I agree you should be able to choose appropriate footwear yourselves.BUT...here is another perspective. I am a 30 something man married to a wonderful woman who loves heels (4" and higher) and owns over 200 pairs. Lucky for me, I absolutely love women in heels. The other perspective? I wish men had the fashion flexibility women have. We are VERY limited in our choices while women can wear just about anything, including men's clothing, without anyone batting an eye. Now I am not saying I want to wear a dress but shouldn't men have the options? I would love to have some flexibility in shoes other than the typical flat mens dress shoe, sneakers or sandals. I would wear a heal if it were 'allowed' as I like them.

As much as you complain about society's 'rules' concerning fashion, women have it MUCH better than men.

shoe stretchers said...

If you were going to buy a golf club, you wouldn't walk into a store and buy the first one you see, would you? Of course not; especially if you want to improve your golf game! You'll want to hold the club, take some practice swings, hit some balls if the store has a practice spot, and look at the price, of course. If you are considering buying running shoes, you need to go through a similar process and take the time to find the perfect shoe.

Kathy said...

Yeah it does matter wearing high heel for corporate parties but in childhood the Costume, shoes cannot stop their enjoyment. I agree on the matter of giving importance to the clothes, shoes of adults which does not restrict their independence.