I’ve become a bit obsessed with shoes. We have been walking around famous ancient places like the forbidden city and the great wall of china, and I’m the one looking down, snapping pics of people’s feet.
It seems that orange is in fashion.
Often and wrongly matched with yellow.
Most shoes seem to be the sort short-people-who-want-to-look-taller would chose.
And short people who want to look taller but still want to jog around the lake.
Although there are plenty of plastic and rubber ones too.
Here is a fine selection of shoes with silly things stuck on the front.
There are bizarre shoes with both bits missing and extraneous bits
Check out the very high heels that these people thought appropriate to HIKE the great wall in!!
The blokes mostly get away with sneakers, as long as they are fluorescent.
Except the older men, who wear kung fu slippers with socks
Speaking of socks, I have seen countless women who clearly made a big effort to dress up, and then committed fashion sabotage age by adding sockettes.
And there is widespread if not endemic inappropriate use of stockings.
And here are my finalists for most ugly.
I saw a lady begging. Her feet looked like this, probably the result of foot binding as a young girl.
There are still Chinese ladies in their 70s with feet deformed by breaking and binding. A hundred years ago, maybe half all Chinese women had bound feet, and all of those in the wealthy classes. Of course, under the communist regime, they suffered even worse, farm labour is even more difficult when you can hardly walk and are not allowed to rest.
I’m don’t equate the wearing of silly shoes with the barbarity of feet binding. However, as the mother of a nine year old daughter who cannot walk, I find the idea of intentionally disabling one’s own child pure evil, even more so when done for the pleasure of one’s future husband. Yet, a billion women were subjected to it, over 1000 years.
It makes me think how important it is to constantly challenge our idea of ‘normal’ and ‘ok’ and ‘acceptable’.
That’s 30 generations!
That is a lot of mothers and fathers who thought it was ok to break their children’s bones, repeatedly, and bind their feet so tight they cried all night in pain, on the off chance their pretty feet would enable them to marry ‘up’ . They took an enormous risk, which apparently rarely paid off. It usually resulted in having a daughter unable to walk or work in the fields. They were called ‘lily feet’. How’s that for a euphemism! The bound feet were never unwrapped in front of their husbands. Apparently dainty little feet are not so alluring, when the pus and blood and rotting skin are visible.
And yet they thought it was ok. Commendable, even.
What do we do, in the name of ‘normal’, to ourselves and our daughters? Ear piercing? Sexualised clothes, starvation diets? toddler beauty contests? leg waxing? ( and worse) FGM? Cosmetic surgery? Don’t get me started on cosmetic surgery.
Wearing silly shoes?
Some of these might be actually ok, and some might just ‘seem’ ok. Who knows? Actually I don’t think any of them are as bad as foot binding. But it did occur to me that there is a ‘history repeating itselfness’ to the issue. Maybe some people just love heels and don’t find them uncomfortable. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t owned any since bridesmaid duty 13 years ago!
But I followed the lady wearing these ridiculous shoes for 5 minutes. She was clearly in pain, but hobbled on, arm in arm with her boyfriend. I wondered if he knew her smile was hiding a grimace.
Am I too critical?
By the way, I did see one pair of shoes I liked.