To us men, one of the many mysteries of Woman is this irritating obsession with footwear that you all share. And I don’t just mean the sheer number of shoes you seem to possess, but also the variety! Different shapes, different heights, different cuts, different colours… what’s going on? To most of us men, shoes are simply a protective clothing for the feet to get us from point A to point B, safe from splinters and bruising, and hopefully also from blisters. And as for colours, rarely would any of us be seen dead in anything but plain brown or black. (Elvis, your days are over).
Shoes for the modern man primarily serve a functional role, not so for women. As one woman pointed out to me “they are a fashion statement”. It was that comment that made me think that perhaps there actually was a rational explanation (of the male-compatible sort) for why every woman is an Emelda Marcos at heart. So I asked some of my female friends the question to which every man is dying to know the answer: what is it with women and shoes?
The first observation I noted was the sudden shift of mood as soon as the magic S-word was mentioned. Initial comments of “can you be quick I have studying to do”, or “do you mind if I call you back, I’m eating” were immediately forgotten or ignored the instant I said the word “shoes”. I had expected one or two sentences in response to my question but instead I ended up with enough material to write a small dissertation. Incidentally, none of my interviewees asked why I was asking until just before we hung up.
Anyway, as a result of my survey I learned new terms such as “sling backs”, “open toes” and “mules” (although I’m still not sure what sling backs are). I learned that pointed shoes often give women blisters and yet they still wear them; that ideally you should own at least one up-to-date pair for every different type of shoe (I counted at least 10 types) and preferably a few of each in different colours; that it was impossible to own “enough” shoes; that a favourite pair did not have to be a comfortable pair; and – although I didn’t ask – that the ideal size for women’s feet was 38.
Having also learned that shoes were important fashion accessories and just as important as a top is, for instance, I asked if they thought that women were forced to buy a lot of shoes simply because shoe designers continually changed the fashions. They all emphatically agreed that the shoe fashion designers’ conspiracy was indeed the reason they had to keep buying so many new shoes. Then I asked if they would prefer a future in which all new shoe designs were banned, thus ending the need to keep buying evolving footgear. To this they all replied NO (and one even sounded depressed at the thought). I gave up.
It is a mundane but inexplicable fact of life: Women adore shoes, and men get irritated by the fact that women adore shoes. It seems that for every frustrated Emelda that lives inside of you, there’s a frustrated Hakim that lives inside of us.