A Love Affair With Shoes
I, like many women, love shoes. When I see a pair of pretty ballet flats, fringe booties, or strappy sandals adorned with a bow or sparkly flower, my mouth waters the way some do when they see cake. And, I’m not alone. Women’s shoes make up 60% of shoe sales in the U.S. That’s more than men and children’s shoe sales combined. Studies show that the average woman owns 20 pairs of shoes. That means a lot of women own a lot more.
There is an abundance of research into the reasons why women love shoes. The act of shoe shopping actually releases dopamine into our brains. This results in a general feeling of happiness. Shoe shopping also provides us with an outlet for a basic human instinct: hunting. When we shop (hunt and find our prey), then buy and wear (kill and devour), the result is very satisfying. When it comes to shoes, women are willing to go into debt, fight with their partner, and give up valuable closet space for fashionable feet. Simply put, buying a new pair of shoes is a gratifying experience.
More than accessories such as handbags or hats, women identify with their shoes. A great pair of shoes has the power to change our mood from dreary to dazzling, and take our look from frumpy to fabulous. Shoes reflect our emotions and express to the world how we feel. When wearing a pair of basic black pumps, we send the message that we are all business. A pair of stilettos can say, “I’m confident and sexy.” Gladiators can say, “I’m fearless.”
There are also many other reasons as to why women love shoes. Shoes affect our posture. A pair of stilettos will force the body into a position that causes the derrière to protrude and the back to arch. This creates a more curvaceous, hourglass figure. A pair of nude heels will make legs appear longer. Shoes can dress an outfit up, or dress an outfit down. A great pair of shoes can give you confidence because when you know you look good, you feel good. If you think shoes don’t make a difference in your overall look, experiment by trying on different types of shoes with a favorite outfit. You’ll find that the right shoes are crucial in creating the look you are going for.
Researching for this piece helped me realize that I’m not the only crazy-shoe-lady. Women frequently buy shoes that are never worn. They are placed on a shelf to simply admire and appreciate as a work of art. I actually own a pair of pink polka-dot, sky-high stilettos. I wore them once and held on to my date all night to avoid falling. That was over ten years ago and I’ve never worn those adorable shoes again. I do, however, still own them. They sit on a shelf where I can admire and appreciate how lovely they are.
Owning several pairs of shoes does not seem quite as frivolous as owning several hats, handbags, or other accessories. We need shoes. We need rain boots to keep our feet dry, winter boots for warmth, hiking boots and athletic shoes for support, slippers for the house, heels for skirts, flats for jeans, and flip-flops for the pool. Clearly, owning multiple pairs of shoes is justifiable.
Of course, with all the pleasure shoes give us, there can also be pain. As a dancer, my feet are very important to me. So, I protect them as much as possible by wearing sensible shoes – most of the time. The statement – the higher the heel, the better you feel – is not always true. Wearing too-high or ill-fitting shoes can lead to blisters, bunions, callouses and corns, as well as cause injuries such as sprains and muscle tears. Shoes should fit properly, be supportive, and comfortable.
It’s also important to remember basic hygiene habits of washing, exfoliating, and moisturizing your feet daily. This will keep them clean, soft, and presentable. A good exercise is to spread your toes apart and then squeeze them together. Another exercise is to drop items on the floor and use your toes to pick them up.
Shoe stories are regularly featured in pop culture. Remember the shoe salesman in Sex and the City who allowed Charlotte to have expensive shoes for free just for allowing him to help her try them on? Most recently, news broadcasts obsessed when First Lady Melania Trump dared to wear stilettos when boarding Air Force One. A pair of red shoes helped Dorothy find her way home. Even fairytales recognize the importance of shoes. Just ask Cinderella. She of course is proof that a new pair of shoes can change your life. So, you can have the cake, I’ll take the shoes.
Style Expert, JeanAnn Taylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org