May 11, 2010
After undergoing a surgery brought on by a fondness for cutely covered feet, feminist fashionista Leora Tanenbaum knew she had to change her bad shoe-wearing ways. Illustrated by Vanessa Davis, Tanenbaum’s Bad Shoes explains why women need to start putting their heads over their heels by learning the art of moderation.
Even though everyone from podiatrists to Vogue editor André Leon Talley have spoken out against the dangers of wearing high heels, fashion designers (and the women who love them) continue to add more vertical inches. The results range from comical to catastrophic with models toppling off runways from New York to Milan and upperclass women lopping off parts of their toes to better fit their foot into a pair of obscenely priced Jimmy Choos. These days many of the top designers’ shoes don’t even fit the mannequins’ feet! So why don’t women just kick the habit?
According to Tanenbaum, women use their footwear to proclaim to the world who they are or who they’d like to be. I mean, what attire is more punk rock than a pair of combat boots? And it’s a safe bet to assume you’re more likely to see a Birkenstock-clad gal at Bonnaroo and an indie girl rocking Chuck Taylor’s at Lollapalooza. The point is that our shoes say something about our personalities and preferences, but Tanenbaum argues that they also speak to our fantasies.
Ask someone to tell you one thing about Imelda Marcos and they’ll say (enviously, I’m sure) that the woman had a ridiculous number of shoes. Women use footwear to play out desires of the life they wish they could live, a life of stylish luxury and sex appeal not unlike the one fictitiously lived by Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw. When we slip on that five-inch Manolo Blahnik stiletto, we project the sexiness of the shoes onto ourselves, and in the precious few moments before the barely tolerable pain begins to spread upward from our toes, we revel in what it’s like to feel that good.
Tanenbaum knows no orthopedists’ warnings about hammertoe, bunions, and ingrown toenails will come between you and your Prada, so she ends the book with words of advice on how to treat your feet with care by including a chapter with tips on how to shoe shop, the bad shoe hall of fame, foot-friendly manufacturers, and a resource for modifying poorly fitting shoes. Do your feet a favor and breeze through this easy-to-read book.