Shoes as a Metaphor for Life


The stereotype is that women love shoes and shopping for them. It is true for some of my friends. Recently a friend visited from another state. The shopping is quite restricted in her area. I live near Scottsdale Fashion Square, a shopping mecca, especially for shoes. The department stores (Nordstrom’s, Macy’s and Dillard’s) have shoe departments larger than the Grand Canyon, or so it seemed to me as I perused them with my friend. I never go to these places so I was amazed at the variety of prices, from forty to eight hundred for a pair of shoes. The styles went from fantastical to old lady. The shoes shimmered and were decorated with patterns and baubles. The heels from rose from flats to five inches high.

My friend wears a size six or seven and many of the shoes on display fit her foot. When we sat down so she could try some pairs on, they had everything she wanted in stock. The salespeople brought out other shoes they thought she might like. My friend is artistic and fully aware of what looks good. She was looking for a perfect look that was also comfortable.

We scrutinized the offerings in the department stores the individual shoe stores in the mall. I wasn’t bored because I was fascinated by the variety. My friend bought two pairs of shoes in one store. One pair was dressy and fashionable but not completely comfortable. The other pair was extremely comfortable but nothing special. She found another pair liked in another store. None of the shoes were the sandals for which she was searching. She wore the shoes in her hotel room that night and decided to return one pair that was beautiful but increasingly uncomfortable and exchange another pair for a different size. Of course they had the size she wanted in stock.

I only go shoe shopping when I need something specific, like new black sneakers because the old ones have broken down. Why? I wear a size eleven, sometimes twelve. When I was shopping with my friend, I did see a shoe I liked.  I asked the salesperson if it came in my size, eleven. He rolled his eyes at me. That’s when I remembered why I hate shoe shopping. It’s as if I offended the salesperson with the mention of my shoe size. Of course he came back saying no and didn’t bring any other shoes for me to try on. That’s why I prefer to go into a self-service shoe store, like Famous Footwear or Last Chance and look on the racks for myself to see what’s available in my size. I don’t have to subject myself to salespeople offended by my out-of-the normal-range shoe size. Famous Footwear salespeople will also look on line and see if a pair of shoes I want comes in my size. I have never gotten eye rolls from them. When I went to Famous Footwear last week I had to get a pair of men’s sneakers to get a good fit.

New black sneakers

New black sneakers

I did it myself without involving a salesperson.

As a bonus I found a new pair of Crocs sandals.

Crocs black sandals

Crocs black sandals

These shoes are in no way fashionable like the ones my friend tried on, but they’ll do.

The salespeople in specialty stores like The Walking Company are more apt to be tolerant of my large foot, but I’m so used to picking my own off the rack and  am loathe to approach someone to look “in the back” for my size.

So people who fit into the norm have the full gamut to choose from. In partners as well as shoes. Tall women get many fewer hits on dating sites than short women because the norm is that men are supposed to be taller than their dates. Thin women get more hits than heavy women because the society has deemed what is “ideal.”

I’ve always been outside the norm even when my body was thin. I was tall until I lost three inches to disk compression. I’m smart, intellectual and outspoken. I don’t want to go on one more date and see the disappointment in the man’s eyes because I’m not in the normal range.

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