My Week of Impractical and/or Socially Scorned Footwear

Shoes aren’t just for survival of the species anymore.

Shoes: What else so clearly illustrates our fragility as a species? Like, no other animals ever wear shoes—horseshoes aren't shoes so don't start on that—and yet, walk outside without wearing shoes in a snowstorm and you'll probably die.

But shoes aren't just for survival of the human race. That was the original idea, but the patriarchy pivoted. The second iteration of the shoe went from "Hey, these really freed us up to walk around on various types of non-carpet terrain" to "Could they also be used to make sure women aren't free to walk away from their responsibilities of being sexy, having babies and cooking?"


From Chinese foot-binding to high heels, men discovered they could un-literally-chain women from the stove and use shoes as a subtler way to subjugate them. Now all they have to do is be part of the system that internalizes misogyny and makes women think the only way to be sexually attractive, and therefore have worth, is to wear shoes that destroy their spine and ankles. You can't run away when you can't walk.

Nowadays, women don't necessarily have to wear high heels to be taken seriously, though it helps, believe me, especially if paired with lipstick. But I am generally too busy living my life to spend my mornings getting myself hot for a bunch of dudes I'm never going to sleep with anyway. And I have weak ankles. At this point, my main shoes are Blundstone boots in the winter and Birkenstocks when it isn't raining.

But what if I am limiting myself? Shoes can make you more sexually attractive, sure, but they can also make you more fun or increase your speed. I set out to wear a different pair of outlandish shoes every day for a week. Here's what happened.

Monday: Heelys


Reaction: Heelys are those shoes with wheels in the heels. Popular with elementary-school juvenile delinquents. For some reason, my purple LSU Tigers adult-size Heelys were available at a deep discount.

Because it's hard to tell these are shoes with skates unless the wearer is actually rolling, these just look like dope kicks. One old woman said to me, "Nice shoes."

At the mall: Are Heelys the best mall shoe ever invented? The smooth surface of the floor proved ideal for roller skating undetected through Pioneer Place. Turns out security guards aren't looking for women in their 30s flouting the mall code of conduct.

At the office: Not great at my standing desk. They are basically like wedges with a potentially lethal heel when you're standing still.

Pain: Minimal, though I had some weird muscle pain after a day of basically walking on my tiptoes.

Likelihood I will ever wear them again: A good chance. If I want to impress children or get around more efficiently at the mall or make a trick video, these will be the shoes I wear. A 5-year-old asked me, very seriously, "Do they make these shoes for kids?!"

Tuesday: Five Fingers


Reaction: Most of what I would call "stranger reactions" to these famous "barefoot running shoes" with individual toe sleeves were my own internalized feelings of shame. The shoes made my insides feel like I was wearing underwear on my head. Who invented these? What kind of cruel monster?

At the mall: The shame I felt while wearing these at Pioneer Place was the kind of thing that takes deep hypnosis to get over.

At the office: Things started OK, but by 3:40 pm the FiveFingers were squeezing my feet in a way that seemed unseemly for "barefoot" shoes. They're more comfortable than Heelys, less comfortable than Crocs.

Pain factor: Nine out of 10. Emotionally, these were the most painful shoes to wear. I felt like I was walking around as an adult in a wet diaper. Except the diaper was on my feet, and everyone could see it.

Likelihood I will ever wear them again: Zero, except maybe in cases of extreme river walking, and only then if every other pair of shoes I owned was lost in a fire and there was lots of glass.

Wednesday: Heels


Reaction: You know what men like? A lady in unbearably high heels. Now, to be fair, I wore makeup to work, and a dress, on the day of the black patent leather stripper shoes, but, whooo boy, that's the day I got the looks. A co-worker put it this way: "Men see those shoes, and all they think is sex. Like, 'Look, here's my butt! Ready for you!'"

At the mall: These shoes make every single activity a horrible ordeal. Taking a down escalator in these was scarier than dropping in on a wave. I fell down twice in the Clarks store.

At the office: Never, ever wear these to work. Even if you're a stripper.

Pain factor: Ten out of 10; the most painful, physically. Walking just to the grocery store in these was worse than sprinting up a mountain in those shitty toe shoes.

Likelihood I will ever wear them again: I got these shoes for a bat mitzvah that was "Las Vegas Dancer"-themed. If I get invited to another, I'll probably wear these shoes.

Thursday: Crocs


Reaction: The truth is this: I look like a person who wears Crocs in public. No one batted a goddamn eye. I once made fun of my dad for wearing Crocs. Now I know I was a foolish, ungrateful child—last year. I wore Crocs on the bus, in the store, before yoga, after yoga, on a plane. Crocs are a gift from heaven. By the end of the day, I didn't even think they were ugly anymore.

At the mall: If you can't take Heelys to the mall, and/or you have a long day of shopping ahead of you, Crocs are the perfect mall shoe.

At the office: Crocs may be ugly—OK, they are ugly—and, yes, they're called "Crocs," but surgeons wear them to work, as do cooks and people in any other non-customer-facing standing-up-a-lot job. They are very comfortable.

Likelihood I will ever wear them again: I'm wearing them right now.

Friday: Light-up sneakers


Reaction: Hot Casual Sneakers have soles that light up with LEDs. They're rechargeable and have a push button to change the color of the lights or make them pulsate in different patterns. They were purchased on eBay, and I don't think I've ever found so much joy for less than $15, plus shipping and handling.

Here is a factual but incomplete list of the people who stopped me to say they loved the shoes: bus driver, construction worker, every single Nordstrom employee, female Mormon missionary, child, homeless person. If you're feeling down, like no one in this world understands or loves you, the answer is light-up shoes. Has anyone thought of bringing these shoes to Jerusalem?

At the mall: Lighting at the mall is not conducive to people noticing your sick LED Light Up Hot Casuals. These shoes are too good to be wasted at a mall.

At the office: These look good but aren't exactly made with comfort in mind. There's a bit of a lump under the heel—some kind of wiring maybe?—and they get warm when they are on, giving the wearer the uncomfortable feeling of being in cool shoes that were made in China and maybe not fully tested for safety to make sure they won't catch on fire.

Pain factor: Five out of 10. They were mildly uncomfortable after a couple hours of that distressing warming.

Likelihood I will ever wear them again: There is a 100 percent chance—if they don't blow up.


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My Week of Impractical and/or Socially Scorned Footwear

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