What is it about women and shoes? They seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly or bread and butter. No matter how old we become, nothing can cheer us like a new pair of shoes [except chocolate]. As for myself, I’ve long since given up spike heels, but oh I do remember those glory days! I don’t wear shoes with much of a heel anymore unless it’s a good pair of medium wedge heels which give me stability as well as a modicum of comfort.
But we have so many different kinds of foot wear to choose from these days that no one blinks an eye if we wear flats, sandals or boots instead of heels to most any event. I heard this morning of a place in Europe though that turns away a woman if she isn’t wearing heels…how ridiculous is that! Why do women wear heels anyway, is it for themselves or to catch the attention of the opposite sex? Possibly both. Heels certainly aren’t comfortable and worn on a daily basis they cause foot injury. I have to admit there was a time I voted for looks over comfort but those days are gone with my youth.
Like most women, I do love shoes and one or two pair simply aren’t enough. We need a pair to match each outfit as well as an array of seasonal shoes,. I’m always on the lookout for attractive, comfortable shoes which aren’t as easy to find as one might suppose, so sometimes finding a good pair is through trial and error….I shudder to think of all the errors I’ve made.
I’ve long labored under the notion that a shoe fetish was the sole [pun intended] domain of females but my teenage grandson recently informed me that’s not the case anymore. He said that these days guys like a variety shoes as much as girls do and that their closets boast an astonishing number of them. I guess that should come as no surprise, in fact it was inevitable; as the old saying goes, ‘what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’.
Originally shoes were tied to function only but today many are valued for their esthetics. They vary from sandals with only a thin sole and simple strap to high fashion shoes made of expensive materials costing thousands of dollars. Other shoes are made for a specific purpose such as hiking, climbing, mountaineering, boating, golfing, dancing, running, wrestling, basketball, water sports, etc.
Traditionally shoes have been made from leather, wood or canvas but are increasingly made from rubber, plastics, and other petrochemical-derived materials. It’s been noted that some of these shoes take on average 20 years to degrade in a landfill…kinda makes one think, doesn’t it?
The earliest shoes are sandals dating from 7,000 or 8,000 BCE, found in the Fort Rock Cave in Oregon in 1938. The world’s earliest leather shoes was found in 2008 in Armenia, dating to 3,500 B.C. Thong sandals, the precursor of the modern flip-flop, dates to 4,000 B.C. in ancient Egypt.
Until the 19th century shoemaking was a traditional handicraft, but by the century’s end, the process was almost completely mechanized with production occurring in large factories. In 2012 the shoe industry had an overall market of $122.9 billion with The Peoples Republic of China holding 63 percent of the production. It wasn’t until 1818 that the right shoe was invented in Philadelphia. Until that time no distinction was made between the left or right foot. Sounds a mite uncomfortable, doesn’t it?
Shoes have found their way into our culture, folk-lore, literature and art. In urban subculture a sneakerhead is a person who owns multiple pairs of shoes as a form of collection or fashion. How many of us must plead guilty to that?
During the 16th century women began wearing extremely high heels, they were so high they needed servants to help them walk. In Venice stilt shoes were invented and a law was enforced limiting the size of heels on women’s shoes because women would fall to their death off their shoes. In 2010 a ten inch heel, known as the Armadillo heel, was made for a fashion show but models wisely refused to wear them because of the danger they posed on the runway….duh, you think?
If you ever get to Toronto, Canada you can visit the only shoe museum in North America, showcasing shoes spanning 4,500 years.
While most of us own several pairs of shoes, we’ve left behind the traditions of many cultures involving them such as a groom drinking a toast from the bride’s shoe; or a couple tossing the brides red shoe from a rooftop for good luck; or the ceremony of a father giving the groom-to-be a pair of shoes symbolizing the giving of his authority over his daughter to his new son-in-law. Sometimes old traditions are slow to die, other times people can’t wait to see the departing dust.
If you’re a sneakerhead you might as well enjoy it since it’s unlikely your status quo will change. Once in a while I get rid of a pair of shoes but it’s awfully hard to do even if they aren’t very comfortable. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing none of my shoes were made with two left feet; I can’t even imagine the agony that would cause, no wonder people preferred going barefoot for so long! I just got a new pair of leopard print wedge heel Sketchers sandals that are as cute as they are comfortable, so here’s to you my fellow sneakerheads, here’s to you!