Shoe Fetish




Yesterday I went shoe shopping with my younger daughter. For me, shoe shopping is always fraught with anxiety and inevitable disappointment. Whether it’s the problem with my own or my child’s wide feet, the impracticality of the selection, or the price tag, I am seldom thrilled with the results of an outing to buy shoes.

I just don’t understand the fuss. When I shop for shoes, I go in with the following expectations. The shoes will fit, be comfortable, look reasonably attractive, and go with as many wardrobe items as possible. Hence, my shoe collection is almost entirely made up of sensible black, white or neutral-colored shoes. Once or twice I’ve gone insane and purchased a gold or red pair, but I lived to regret my folly. These shoes sit in their boxes, pristine as the day I bought them.

My daughters, on the other hand, are downright covetous when it comes to shoes. Although my oldest has gotten more practical since she became an adult, she still pines for the perfect boot, flat, or high heel for every outfit. My youngest lobbies for yet another pair of Converse All-Stars or a different color Ugg boot. I realize this is normal female behavior, but I have to wonder where it comes from.

Since before Cinderella slid her perfect tiny foot into the glass slipper, women seem to have been obsessed with shoes. In ancient China, little girls’ feet were painfully bound so that their miniature tootsies inside tiny silk slippers would make the women prized as brides. Nowadays, women totter around on 6-inch stilettos that cost more than their monthly rent. I guess sexy feet are a turn-on to men. This would explain why women have been willing to deform theirs for the sake of beauty.

Yet men often seem bemused by women’s obsession with footwear. I once had a female friend who told me you could tell a lot about a person by his or her shoes. So maybe shoes are a form of self-expression, and women just have more choices, and therefore more interest, in what they wear on their feet. 

I’m not sure my husband realizes how lucky he is to have a wife who is unimpressed with the latest Jimmy Choos or Manolo Blahniks. Does he realize how easy I am on our budget with my tendency to buy shoes only when strictly necessary? The same goes for handbags, another female obsession I don’t get. A black one for winter and a white or beige one for summer – what else do you need? 

Next week I get to visit the massive Mall of America in Minneapolis with my sisters. We always have a blast, but we spend way too much time in DSW, Famous Footwear, and the Clarks store. Three of us love to tease our oldest sister about her shoe fetish. Sometimes we don’t allow her even to set foot in a shoe store. We’re saving her from herself! Maybe if I can get the girls out of the shoe stores, I will have more time to explore my shopping obsession – books.