Fashion: Shoes

Foot Fetish

A good shoe is as important as . . . a good man

By Bev Davis

MEN DON’T understand women’s relationship–no, our obsession–with shoes. I spend my life in pursuit of the perfect pair of black shoes, and I am not alone. When I sold my house in Des Moines, I was shocked to discover how casually I discarded antiques, art, and closets full of clothes. I arrived in upstate New York to write my first book armed with the bare necessities: a computer and 24 pairs of black shoes.

Am I the only woman who suffers the angst of parting with old shoes or the supreme joy of finding another pair to hoard in the closet (bonus points if they are on sale or actually your size)? Why can’t we resist them? In part, we buy shoes because our weight changes seasonally and only our shoe size remains the same. We American women bloat up and skinny down throughout our lives. That’s why we shop constantly. And yet I had no problem ridding myself of old clothes. But shoes.

That’s different.

Women have a relationship with shoes that often outlasts lovers, jobs, or houses. My sister still has loafers from when she was pregnant with her 23-year-old daughter. She has divorced and remarried, changed jobs seven times, and switched addresses four times (twice out of state). But she still wears those loafers.

My obsession with shoes is a reminder of where I’ve been and a dream of where the next pair of black shoes may take me yet. Perhaps this is why I could never settle on those “sensible” shoes my mother stuck my little feet into during grade school. While my friends sported shiny black Mary Janes with paper-thin soles, my feet remained imprisoned in gray, leather numbers that never seemed to wear out. Always hated those shoes; as soon as I could, I started buying sexy, impractical ones.

Here’s the worst part: men don’t notice shoes. They notice breasts. They notice long, thin legs in short skirts. OK, the legs don’t even have to be long or thin. They notice anything but shoes.

My sexual fantasies are closely tied to shoes I buy and what could happen. I am as constantly in search of the perfect pair of black shoes as I am in search of the perfect man. Shoes seem easier to score than the guy. I prefer a man who is tall, strong, mysterious, exciting, intelligent, and sexy. I imagine him sauntering in, and I am transformed into that little girl in gray leather lace-up shoes lusting after Mary Janes.

Mom was right. Go for the practical. Shoes that will stand the test of wear and time. This translates into a square, slightly balding middle-aged man who worries about being a good father, who will hold my hand at the movies, and who will stack the firewood on a chilly January afternoon.

But, no, I want a new pair of exciting shoes and an exciting-type guy. This dichotomy between what I want and what I need drives me right into the store.

My addiction for shoes goes beyond anything reasonable or practical. Sure, I can change. But somehow I think this quirk will always lurk inside me, squashing any real relationship on the horizon.

From the April 20-26, 2000 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

© Metro Publishing Inc.

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