This post has nothing to do with dogs, knitting, poodles, agility, or bicycling.
Yesterday I happened to notice two children, ages 9 and 10 or so, getting out of their father’s car and running into the store. One child–wearing sneakers–leapt out of the car and ran across the parking lot, shouting “come on!” to the other child, who was wearing a pair of cowboy boots that seemed to be too large. I could hear the boots clumping along and the expression on the child’s face spoke of frustration and discomfort. In a moment, her father passed her–he was wearing sneakers, too, like her brother–and the two males, one young, one not-so-young, waited impatiently at the door for her to catch up.
Her cowboy boots were very cute indeed. Pink leather with flowered tops. I’m sure she thought they were terribly cool. But… they kept her moving slowly, instead of easily.
A few days ago, I went to a party given by our corporate bankers at the Pittock Mansion. As is my wont these days, I wore a pair of sneakers, although I did make an effort with my clothing (I wore nice pants and a new pink sweater). Apparently this inspired a certain amount of envy in some of the women there, who quietly spoke to me about how jealous they were of my sneakers. I greatly enjoyed the freedom to explore the Mansion, walking easily up and down the marble staircases to try to understand how the house was put together.
I also noticed that none of the men there were wearing high heels or shoes that kept them from moving easily.
Last week at our store, I spoke to a mid-20s woman who was wearing a gorgeous pair of high heels. They were lovely; they made her legs look long and sleek; she appeared tall and elegant. When I complimented her on the gorgeous shoes (we were waiting for coffee together), she said her feet hurt but she needed to wear them for work. (I’ll note that my inability to tolerate high heels now is a direct result of the years I spent trying to look tall and slender by wearing 3-inch heels every day.)
Our culture seems to have built up expectation that women will wear shoes (and other pieces of clothing–don’t get me started on the anti-breathing device that is the modern bra) that hinder their ability to move quickly and easily.
On Facebook yesterday, I stumbled across an article on how men don’t wear makeup and women do. Men don’t wear heels and women do. These are both things that signal “I’m female” to the broader culture (pun almost intentional). They are also things that cost money (how much do those fancy cowboy boots cost anyway? did her father forgo the robotics class she could have taken instead?). It’s apparently not enough, societally, that women don’t make what men make? We have to buy shit that slows us down and wastes our money too?