Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What is it with Women and Shoes?

I have a thing for shoes. I think a lot of women do. Lately I've found myself becoming a bit obsessive over them, ordering shoes online and justifying my purchases with the rationale that a good pair of shoes will last forever, so I am really making an investment in my future, right? After I complete my order, I track my package every day and revel in the anticipation of when I will arrive home from work and see a tidy little box in front of my door. When they arrive, I savor every moment of opening the package, reminding myself that I can return them if I don't like them but knowing inside that will never happen.

Over the years I have bought, worn, given away, and thrown out an embarassing amount of shoes. Some have been gorgeous, others hideous. But they have all served their purpose: they made me feel good. They made me feel pretty. And is that so wrong?

Just as most women seem to have a thing for shoes, most men seem to not understand why women have a thing for shoes. I guess I can understand the confusion. Most men have a few pairs of shoes - the requisite brown, black, and sneakers. Possibly some flip flops, the number of which seems to be directly proportional to the number of times that man says, "dude," in a given day. But generally, for men, shoes are functional, while for women, they are so much more.

Shoes are validation of our womanhood! Shoes fit you no matter what size you are this week. Shoes can mean the difference between casual or dressy, dowdy or sophisticated. The right shoes can make you feel invincible, and the wrong shoes can turn an otherwise reasonable woman into a she-devil. Out of consideration for humankind, I've been known to turn around and go home to change my shoes on my way to work, and its always been worth it. I'm doing my part.

Some women go overboard in their quest for validation through footwear. "Sex and the City" character Carrie Bradshaw famously realized in mid-shoe-shop that she had the equivalency of a down payment on a NYC apartment sitting on the floor of her closet. But it's not just fictional characters who fall victim to the smell of shoe leather in the morning. In a 2006 survey of 300 people by OppenheimerFunds, nearly half of women interviewed said they would rather buy 30 pairs of shoes than save $30,000 for retirement.

So what is it with women and shoes? I think it really comes down to a control mechanism related to want versus need. We don't need shoes. We want shoes. And there is something intoxicating about seeing something you want, no matter how frivilous, and going out and getting it. Our good friend Instant Gratification. There are a lot of things I want that I can't have, many times when I hit a brick wall on an issue, or instances of obstacles between me and a goal, but shoes is never one of them. So what I'm trying to say is, when I can't control the outcome of situations in my life, I always have my shoes. Having my shoes make those naysayers, brick walls, and obstacles easier to brush off. Sometimes it truly is the little things.

And while shoe shopping isn't the healthiest way to deal with the daily stress of life, I don't think a simple high-heeled knee-high leather boot ever hurt anyone.

Unless you're the one in my way.

1 comment:

Mary Lee said...

I love your last line. And while I myself am probably somewhere closer to the guys mentioned in your blog, considering I have a limited number of shoes, I can totally understand what you are saying regarding wants and needs. Everyone takes pleasure in achieving a "want" purchase-- be it shoes, video games, sports gear, car accessories, or travel. In a way, my vice is worse than your shoes. I love to travel. I will drop $100 a day or more on a trip. So at the end of 3 weeks, I will drop three grand and only have memories and photos to show for it. At least you have shoes! And just think about how many pair you could buy for the cost of a ticket to Europe? You don't have to justify the boots to me! ;)