From the files of Captain Obvious…


Comes a study summarized by the New York Times thusly: Study Finds Women Wear Shoes That Cause Pain.

Their grand conclusion: “More than 60 percent of women said that in the past they generally wore high heels, pumps, sandals and slippers, all of which researchers rated as higher risk.” Shocking. And then: “When it comes to shoes, men make much better choices, the study found; fewer than 2 percent wore bad shoes.”

Yes, because it just comes down to men making better choices and not, you know, social and cultural pressures to wear particular, gendered footwear, and limited availability of supportive women’s shoes. Men are just smarter like that.

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57 comments for “From the files of Captain Obvious…

  1. September 30, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    I dunno, I’ve never worn an uncomfortable pair of shoes (aside from trying them on and finding them uncomfortable). Granted, I’m already 5’11”, so I don’t “need” heels, but even so, there are plenty of cute flats and other shoes that won’t kill your feet and legs. I have never really understood the mentality that puts up with discomfort for the sake of fashion. If you don’t want to wear painful shoes… don’t?

  2. September 30, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Wait, sandals and slippers are bad for me, now? That’s just fucking awesome. If slippers are bad, I can only assume that also means it’s unhealthy for me to walk around barefoot, too? And here I thought being comfortable was good for my feet …

    In any case, yeah, it’s weird how slippers are also gendered, and it’s so much more difficult to find slippers for men than it is for women. Like having warm feet is just way too feminine or something.

  3. Rhiannon
    September 30, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I’m confused…. are shoes actually made for men that are “bad” for them? If not, then it’s not really about men’s choices is it.

  4. norbizness
    September 30, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    It sounds more like something from the filing cabinet of Captain Sensible.

  5. Molly
    September 30, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Its half the shoes, half the walking backwards that is the problem…Really ladies, take some personal responsibility and make good choices! Stop making irrational, emotionally-based decisions that fit your crazy, unpredictable logic!!

  6. leah
    September 30, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    It’s not necessarily even about gender norms (not to say that they aren’t a factor – they are). It’s about availability. I work in the shoe industry, and it’s taken for granted that it is much easier to find men’s shoes that are both good for you and affordable than it is to find women’s. It’s not even totally a matter of what individual stores choose to sell; stores buy from manufacturers, and if the manufacturer isn’t making it, stores can’t sell it, women can’t buy it. Of course another big problem right now is that many people don’t know what healthy shoes should do; I can’t tell you how many times people have told me Uggs are good for you, for example, because they’re flat and comfortable. If you cannot stand for 8 hours in a shoe without getting sore joints in your knee, ankle, foot, hip, back, or feet and without getting “tired” feet, the shoe is not a healthy one. The final problem I see is one of definition. Take my previous statement: how many men’s shoes qualify for that? Well a greater proportion than women’s, sure, but still, not all. I suspect they’re defining “good for you” in a way that overincludes men’s shoes in that category when, in fact, they shouldn’t be included. One can’t say category X is worse than category Y, one must say shoe X is worse than shoe Y (for instance there are bad sneakers – keds, for example – and very good sandals – Clark’s unstructured, for example).

  7. September 30, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    I dunno, I’ve never worn an uncomfortable pair of shoes (aside from trying them on and finding them uncomfortable). Granted, I’m already 5′11″, so I don’t “need” heels, but even so, there are plenty of cute flats and other shoes that won’t kill your feet and legs. I have never really understood the mentality that puts up with discomfort for the sake of fashion. If you don’t want to wear painful shoes… don’t?

    It’s not just about painful vs. nonpainful. A lot of flats and sandals are TERRIBLE for your feet because they don’t offer any arch support. The point is that most men’s shoes have built-in support; men don’t have to look very hard to find nice, professional, attractive and socially acceptable shoes that are good for their feet. Most women’s shoes — even the flat ones, even the comfortable ones — do not have the kind of necessary arch and foot support to maintain healthy feet.

  8. September 30, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Barefoot is best apparently.

    “Shoes are the problem. No matter what type of shoe. Shoes are bad for you.”

  9. September 30, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    I can’t imagine where I would buy, let alone how to afford, the female equivalent of mens’ shoes: stylish, comfortable and good for your feet.

  10. P.T. Smith
    September 30, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    I’m confused…. are shoes actually made for men that are “bad” for them? If not, then it’s not really about men’s choices is it.

    There are, I think. Though when men do wear uncomfortable dress shoes, we are much more likely to squirm and pull at them like little boys in church forced to wear ties and be quiet.

  11. Gina
    September 30, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    I absolutely refuse to wear uncomfortable shoes because I have fallen arches, and I experience excruciating pain if I don’t wear shoes with good arch support. I have a custom orthotic to provide arch support, but it’s nearly impossible to find cute shoes that will fit it. I went shoe shopping this weekend and came back empty-handed because nothing that was in my price range (that’s the other problem for me) was comfortable enough. Because of my arch problems, barefoot is actually terrible for me. I had a friend who insisted that her high heels were actually more comfortable for her than tennis shoes, but then she developed a foot problem because of them and had to get a custom orthotic as well.

  12. September 30, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    The best shoes for standing around all day long are Danskos. This is why they are insanely popular among medical care workers and chefs. They also looks totally awesome on both men and women. The only downside is that they do not have great lateral stability, so if you have laterally weak ankles, they can take some getting used to or be inappropriate.

  13. P.T. Smith
    September 30, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    The best shoes for standing around all day long are Danskos.

    I’ll second that through vicarious experience. I dated a girl who was a hairdresser who swore by her Danskos.

  14. woland
    September 30, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Thirded on the Danskos – and they have dress versions that I can wear with a suit (the pumps aren’t as comfortable as the clogs, but are worlds better than most of what’s out there that works with lawyer costumes.) Expensive, but once you know your size, they can be found on ebay.

    That “better choices” line is just precious. We’d make better “choices” if it were actually possible to find appropriate shoes without hoofing all over town to specialty stores and/or spending the entire month’s grocery money to get footwear that doesn’t cause injury.

  15. September 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    After a certain point, and definitely in certain situations, barefoot is NOT better for your feet than well fitting, supportive shoes. And I say this as a human who would go barefoot 24/7/365 if the weather in my state would allow it. (Barefoot outside in January in Minnesota is courting disaster.)

    I also say this as a custom seamstress and alterationist who stands a LOT for her work. Anyone who thinks sewing is a sit down job has never done it from Point A (bolt of fabric) to Point Z (finished garment, happy client). I am currently wearing Haflinger clogs — bum ugly things, but have done awesome things for my feet. I’ve put on a bit of weight lately AND been canning, so spending much, much more time on my feet than usual, so currently, they are stiff and sore in the morning. :( Even with “good shoes”. And just had bunion(s) diagnosed by a podiatrist — interestingly enough, they are genetic, and all your shoe choices will do is determine *when* they start to bother you. *sigh*

    As for heels….well, I am 5’2″, and rarely wear them because they *gasp!!* HURT MY FEET. I refuse to be bullied into bad footwear because it’s fashionable. I like cute shoes, but dammit — I need to be functional the next day, too.

    /rant. Carry on. And those of you in the shoe industry? Would it kill you to look into ways to make nice women’s shoes with some support that DON’T look like your Grammy would be wearing them? Thanks.

  16. September 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Oh, and P.S.
    I am totally aware that some women really don’t have a choice in footwear due to industry/company standards. And I feel for you — really, seriously, I do. It is damn hard to be functional when your feet hurt. We need to make the same effort to get a choice in footwear that women did to get a choice in whether they can wear pants to work or not. I honestly don’t think that a pantsuit is any less professional that a skirt suit, so I’m right with you lawyers who have to dress professionally for court.

    By “after a certain time” I meant when your body hits a certain age. And “in certain situations” I meant anything that isn’t super springy turf or carpeting you sink into up to your ankles. And I personally LOVE being barefoot, or wearing my summer sandals. :(

    sorry, last words on the subject, I swear.

  17. leag
    September 30, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Totally on the Dansko train here. The only other problems not mentioned are they have little flex so they can be bad for people with bunions and that they don’t accomodate orthotics. SAS is just as good, if not better, but no one under 70 wears them because they truly are the ugliest shoes on the planet. The clark’s unstructured line I mentioned above is the second best I’ve come across; often we sell these to people who need orthotics they have removable insoles. They’ve recently expanded the line too to make shoes that are business-appropriate.

  18. leah
    September 30, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    2 corrections to my above: first I managed to spell my name wrong second the second to last line should read: “often we sell these to people who need orthotics *because* they have removable insoles.

  19. Gembird
    September 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Leah- I worked for Clarks until very recently. I love the fact that I can find shoes there that are comfortable and smart; there are less tyles for going out than there are for work, but work is the longest period of time where you’re wearing the same pair of shoes I suppose. At least, it is for me, since I rarely go out. Anyway, I’ve also found that Clarks shoes are pretty good.

    To echo others though, if only they had more shoes that were cute as well as functional. They’re getting better- the shop I just left had leopard-print ‘almost-flats’- but it’s still difficult. And the price, oh my. I literally just got my degree, I can’t afford to spend £50 every time I want new shoes.

    Oddly, I’ve found that the most comfortable shoes for me are the New Rocks ‘goth boots’. Again though, damn expensive. And they have the added bonus of making everyone think you’re crazy.

  20. Kristen J.
    September 30, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    You will get my slippers when you pull them from my cold dead hands…errr….feet, or alternatively if I walk into your house…BUT ONLY THEN. And yes, I do wear them even when it snows…my toes must roam free.

  21. September 30, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Women need to make better choices… because we are having trouble finding people to ambush for our upcoming make-over show.

  22. September 30, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    I’m waiting for the study on how men are more likely than women to watch football and Judd Apatow movies. The findings will be truly shocking. Shocking, I say.

  23. September 30, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    @ Laurie in Mpls.:

    Re the “some women really don’t have a choice in footwear due to industry/company standards.”

    The Trades Union Congress has tabled a motion to outlaw the compulsory wearing of stiletto heels. Believe it or not, there is outcry at “how dare they try to restrict what people can wear at work?”

  24. September 30, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    Go, Trades Union Congress! That resolution should be a no-brainer. Stilettos are literally an occupational hazard for some people, maybe for everyone.

    • September 30, 2009 at 9:22 pm

      I’m seriously resisting a “yeah, but” response to this entire thread. I like my heels, I think. Except I don’t wear them since they’re hard on my feet at work. Instead I’m rocking the Chucks and claiming I’m just like Rachel Maddow.

  25. Morningstar
    September 30, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    “Barefoot is best apparently.

    “Shoes are the problem. No matter what type of shoe. Shoes are bad for you.”

    As an aesthetics snob, I hope to God that trend never picks up.

  26. Morningstar
    September 30, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    I dunno, Lauren, as a straight male I’ll admit that I find many women attractive with heels, but at the same time, I do feel a tinge of guilt about that. It just seems blatantly uncomfortable and unsafe; like the modern day equivalent of a corset.

  27. Lis
    September 30, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    I would love the opportunity to wear shoes that are bad for me, but it’s a pipe dream due to a birth defect that left one leg slightly stunted–screw fitting orthotics, I also have to find a shoe in infant sizes (to match its partner in adult sizes) that can be built up in the sole by an inch.

    I find it sad that, even as someone whose feet hurt even when I’m wearing a thousand dollars’ worth of work on them, I see heels as being superior, and long for them desperately. Women’s discomfort has been loudly ignored so long, in this realm as many others, that I perceive something that would cause me pain even if I were healthy as natural, desirable, and attractive.

  28. September 30, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    Like many, I cannot stand to wear shoes which are uncomfortable.

    Yet, I do like heels, and I do like flats, and I have found that I need slippers now far more than I did before.

    However, there is indeed a tremendous dearth of shoes with any sort of arch support in them, which occasionally irks me. But I am picky, and I do indeed have issues with shoes which don’t feel good — perhaps its a left over from the bad old days, or maybe its just from working in shoe sales in the past, but I look for style first, but I don’t use style to base my decision of purchase.

    I’ve bought too many shoes that felt good on first try and then were painful as all heck the first couple hours of wearing them to not have gotten very picky very fast about comfort.

    I’ll even go with shoes a tad larger than my size if I’m in the mood for comfort.

    Now, all of that said, I can say that I personally find women’s shoes to be infinitely more comfortable than the lead weights than men call shoes.

    But that could be due to personal perceptions more than actual fact, lol

  29. September 30, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Lauren, I love my heels too. And I do wear them at work, every day. And at night on the weekends. I commute in flip-flops. I love the aesthetic of a nice paid of heels, even if they do kill my feet.

  30. be
    September 30, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    thank you captain obvious.

  31. September 30, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Sofft makes some nice shoes with arch supports, even with heels.

    I guess I’m lucky because I’m tall, so I’ve never felt terribly pressured to wear heels, or at least high heels. I have a few pairs for interviews and special occasions, but on a day-to-day basis, it’s (supportive) sandals in the summer and mary janes from Clarks in the winter, with Keens on the weekends and Chuck Taylors for the gym.

  32. Tisha
    October 1, 2009 at 12:41 am

    Standing at 4’11 and hoping to become a lawyer someday, it’s kind of a given that I’ll need to wear heels just to stand tall(er) among my peers. I would absolutely love it if I could find more “power heels” that are affordable and not 2 hour shoes.

    And then there’s the fact that if I want to be able to wear dress slacks (even in petites), I’m going to need some type of heel to keep them off of the ground and maintain the required look.

    Women simply don’t have the comfort options that men do, at least to the extent that they don’t look like comfort shoes.
    I remember trying to explain that to my then boyfriend. We need different shoes for different occasions and different outfits because we can’t get away with wearing the same nice shoe most of the time.

  33. Vidya
    October 1, 2009 at 4:10 am

    I’ve always been amazed at how much women’s shoes differ from the natural shape of human feet — whereas men’s shoes tend to come a lot closer to foot-shape (despite that men and women don’t have differently constructed feet). It’s almost impossible to find women’s shoes that are flat, wide enough, and don’t come to a point at the toes (and even harder if you have big, vegan feet like me).

    I’m a little dismayed to hear women talk of looking for supportive shoes that are also ‘cute’, because the prevailing conception of ‘cute’ emphasizes smallness and daintiness, and thus leads to women buying too-small, too-narrow shoes that have those ridiculous pointy toes too.

  34. tizzielish
    October 1, 2009 at 4:17 am

    This blog post seems weird to me. What is the point? is the blog writer for or against high heels? Is the blog writer cognizant that women’s appearance is often treated, by men and women, as some measure of a woman’s value as a human being? Aware that in some Muslim cultures, onlly a woman’s husband, parents, brothers and children can EVER in their whole lives even see what the women look like because such women do not, um, own their appearance? Is the blog writer aware that women’s appearances are, more often than not, considered something that belongs to the human commons more than it belongs to the woman? And that the corporate consumer culture depends on reinforcing women’s beliefs that their appearance has something to do with their relative worth as humans in a multi-billion dollar economic effort to capture women’s consumer dollars? And a whole lot more complex cultural pressure is brought to bear on women’s shoes? And that such pressure is not brought to bear on men’s shoes?

    Shoes are a very complex thing, esp. when contrasting the way woman use shoes and the way men do.

    I get the blog writer understands this . . . and I know many believe that ‘good’ blog posts should be short, pity things.

    But shoes are one of my all time pet peeves. I think that we will see gender equity throughout the planet on that magical day in the future when only sensible shoes are made, bought, sold, worn. I think shoes, the contrast between the worlds of men’s shoes and women’s shoes tells the whole story of the dominator culture’s subjugation of women.

    I am 56. When I was a teenager and a twenty-something, I wore some high heels. From my very first pair of heels, which I got around age 11, I understood that high heels were not good for my feet, I understood that I wore them to fit into some external culture pressure.

    By the time I reached my late twenties, had established myself as an attorney and become the mother of a female, I left high heels behind.

    I fail to understand why women wear them. Fashion? I guess some women care about fashion. I think some women believe, and so do plenty of men, that high heels are sexy and some people want to appear sexy so they wear uncomfortable shoes.

    But there is no such thing as a comfortable high heeled shoe. People who wear them and believe such shoes are comfortable as in denial. High heels are pretty much opposite of what is good for the human foot. The human heel is naturally lower than the human toes but all high heels raise the heel. There is no sense or logic in high heels.

    High heels are one of life’s mysteries and all about the subjugation of women. I think every single time a woman dons a pair of high heels, she perpetuates misogyny. How does this keep happening?

    And then, to read this weird blog post which theorizes, even in a trivial manner, that men are more sensible than women because they don’t wear idiotic shoes? We’re all fictims of misogyny. Even though I have not put on a pair of high heels in thirty years, I am a victim of high heels. I am valued less because other women wear them.

    I hate this shoe subject and wish this blog post did not trivialize it.

  35. tizzielish
    October 1, 2009 at 4:32 am

    My favorite shoes right now are a pair of Keen, all black Mary Janes. I don’t wear them much because Keen soles wear down quickly and I love these shoes and want them to last.

    I am 56. I have not owned a pair of high heels since i was thirty. When I did wear them, I did it for social pressure. Plus my ex-husband used to insist on them and I used to cow tow to him because he was so mean if I didn’t kiss up. But other than abusive sexist pressure why would anyone wear high heels?

    I don’t really take women in high heels seriously and I am steadily amazed when one of them turns out to have some brains.

  36. tizzielish
    October 1, 2009 at 4:36 am

    I am shocked by all the comments that make it sound like women have no choice but to wear high heels. Comments suggest that the ‘required look’ requires heels. This is nonsense, culturally imposed, irraitonal baloney.

    One commenter indicates she hopes to be a lawyer and if she does, as a lawyer she will have to wear heels. Baloney, honey. I am an attorney and you don’t have to wear heels.

    I can understand children being unduly influenced, children absorbing cultural bias . . . but grown ups have a responsibility to themselves to think maturely and independently. No woman has to wear high heels. Get over it, women. And men, get over your objectification of women, stop measuring women’s value by their appearance and stop seeing women in sensible shoes as less than women wearing fuck me shoes. If anything, men should devalue the bimbos in fuck me shoes and every woman who puts on high heels because of some amorphous cultural pressure is a bimbo. Women can’t blame men forever: release the shackles of the dominator culture and wear flats.

  37. Medea
    October 1, 2009 at 5:43 am

    Paul Green isn’t bad for mixing comfort and style. The sandals I got from them have better arch support than than my LL Bean boots.

  38. Ellid
    October 1, 2009 at 6:21 am

    I’ve had good luck with Easy Spirit and Naturalizer for comfortable low-heeled pumps that I can wear at the office. Rockport loafers aren’t bad, and I *wish* I could afford another pair of Clark’s because my old Wallabies were most comfortable shoes I ever owned.

  39. Maggie
    October 1, 2009 at 6:38 am

    Oh don’t let me get into my epic school-shoe rant. Suffice it to say that once one has grown out of the childrens’ sizes it becomes evident that women do not WEAR anything that is not a sandal or a stiletto or both, let alone in a colour other than black. Apparently my (all-girls) school was just delusional when it wrote that uniform code, hmm?

  40. October 1, 2009 at 7:02 am

    I’m lucky because I’m a grad student and am not all that accountable for what I put on my feet, but I have one word for you: chacos.

  41. October 1, 2009 at 7:06 am

    Vidya, don’t bash narrow shoes too much. Some of us are cursed with super narrow feet and actually do need them, but not because we’re dainty. I wear a 10AAA shoe, and it’s a bitch trying to find shoes that will stay on my feet if they’re any kind of slip on.

  42. Kaija
    October 1, 2009 at 7:16 am

    I second all those who observed the lack of arch support in women’s shoes. I have high arches and my feet get tired in any shoes, flat or heeled, without support. I even put arch supports in my running shoes. I have the luxury of wearing any shoes I want in my lab job (no cultural or job pressure to conform to the “proper dress for women” thing that leaves other professional women caught between comfort and expectation), but I do enjoy wearing heels when I go out or on special occasions. What I REFUSE to wear at any time is the pointy toed shoes that squeeze my forefoot…awful. I don’t see why that’s considered cute anyways…

  43. Gembird
    October 1, 2009 at 7:59 am


    To me, ‘cute’ means ‘nice to look at’ or ‘fun’ rather than small. To be fair, I already have tiny, narrow feet, so perhaps I have a different perspective on the whole shoes thing. It’s actually incredibly difficult to find shoes that fit if you’re a UK size 4 or below (I’m a 3.5, which makes it even harder as it’s a half size) despite the conception of little feet being dainty and good. Most of the shoes that fit me are school shoes for children. Adults shoes are too wide.

  44. James
    October 1, 2009 at 11:50 am

    I’m confused…. are shoes actually made for men that are “bad” for them? If not, then it’s not really about men’s choices is it.

    Good God, yes. Three words: Kenneth Cole Reaction. Ow. They sure looked nice, though, for about 6 months.

    I think one major problem is that since men aren’t expected to own as many shoes (black and brown each in dress and casual), and since many ignore the rule that you should not wear shoes more than once every three days (so they have time to dry out), it’s easier for us to pay for the cost of a well-engineered pair of shoes. There’s no real reason why women can’t do the same thing, except for increasingly deprecated social expectations that treat women as ornaments.

    So I propose that one of the problems is the idea of shoe as fashion accessory. As long as they are, they will have to be relatively cheap, and as long as they emphasize being fashionable and cheap they will almost certainly be uncomfortable. I just bought a nice pair of shoes that rock a 30 year old design. But they’re handsome, very well made, support my arch, and I expect to get about 20 years out of them. The up front cost was high, but down the line I’ll have saved a lot of money on black dress shoes.

    And if you or I do want fashionable, well, there are “2 hour shoes” available for both genders, and I suppose there’s a place for them.

    I’m wearing Clark’s unstructured right now, and I’ll echo the sentiments elsewhere in the comments. They’re one of my most comfortable pairs of shoes.

  45. La BellaDonna
    October 1, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    I’m wearing a pair of low-heeled (3/4″) Buttero boots right now at the law office where I work. They’re the same boots I’ve worn nearly every day for the last nine years. I wear them instead of sneakers when I need my feet to be comfortable … which is pretty much when I’m awake. I used to fret over trying to find comfortable shoes and boots, because I have a narrow foot, a narrower heel, and a POINTY foot at that (yes, pointy in the middle, just like dopey pointy shoes). It actually became slightly easier for me when I developed severe, chronic foot pain; I wasn’t looking so hard for boots that fit me right off the shelves. Instead, the interiors are customized by whatever inserts I need … and, usually, a pair of padded socks over my tights, because I need the cushioning. Fortunately, all that shows is the boot itself, not all the interior padding.

    I’ve seen some beautiful, beautiful shoes that I think are just basically foot-originated sculpture. They’re not really supposed to be worn while running for a bus or going to the store or standing up in court. My personal experience has been that a heel of about an inch, total, is more comfortable for me than completely flat, but I concentrate on making sure the shoe or boot is comfortable to wear, then I extend its life as long as possible with heel taps, toe taps, re-heeling, re-soling, and patching, as required. I try to find well-made shoes on sale, and buy fewer of them. I think it’s possible – but it isn’t easy, and one person’s solution is not necessarily another person’s; some may be fine with totally flat shoes, some might be better off with a reverse heel (Earth shoe type), some people need a moderate heel. For the women who have high heels that they swear are comfortable – well, I don’t have their shoes, I certainly don’t have their feet, or their spines, so how can I unilaterally declare that they’re wrong? I think a better solution would be a wider range of more comfortable, well-built shoes for women* being made available, but realistically, I understand that those are also shoes which are expensive to make; if they don’t sell, manufacturers won’t invest the money.

    There is no one easy answer or one solution; I do think, if at all possible, it’s better to buy fewer, and to buy better. If it’s a choice between paying a bill or buying a shoe, well, there IS no choice there – but if it’s better to buy one or two good pairs of shoes a year, and build up a shoe wardrobe that way, instead of an endless stream of cheap shoes. I do know I’ve seen some astonishing bargains when shoes and boots go on sale at the end of their “sale life”, even at – maybe especially at high-end stores, which I wouldn’t ordinarily patronize. Some makers of comfortable shoes: Naturalizer, Aerosole, Rockport – I’ve picked up office-appropriate shoes from Aerosole for under $25 at season’s end. Yes, it’s more work and more time to buy shoes affordably that way, but it’s either time and effort or it’s a big chunk of money, which I seldom have.

    Tizzielish: have you checked with your cobbler to see if you can have your Keen Mary Janes re-soled? It’s not as common as having one’s shoes re-heeled, but I’ve done it often.

    *I’m not suggesting that men shouldn’t have comfortable shoes, but they appear to me to have many more comfortable shoes and shoe styles available to them than women do. And by the way, guys, since high heels were originally designed for YOU FOLKS to wear, I think the men who just LOVE the way high heels look … should wear them.

  46. wondering
    October 1, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    I have flat, wide feet. Women’s shoes are often too narrow. And yet, when shopping in a unisex store, if I choose to try on men’s shoes (running shoes or dress shoes) I invariably get flack from the person selling the shoes.

    They will keep bringing me women’s shoes and keep trying to take the men’s shoes away from me. I actually have to argue with them to get them to take my money and sell me the shoes that actually fit, are comfortable, and I think I can stand in them all day. It is insane.

    “But these are men’s shoes!”
    “And they fit!”
    “But aren’t these other shoes nicer?”
    “They don’t fit. Do you have them in a wider size?”
    “No, I’m afraid not.”
    “Then I’ll take these shoes.”
    “But these are men’s shoes!”

    Rinse, repeat.

  47. wondering
    October 1, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Arguing with me over buying men’s running shoes is even more insane, since other than size there is no discernible difference between the men’s and women’s shoes, except that sometimes the ladies shoes have a bit of pink on them.

  48. Maria B
    October 1, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    I don’t really take women in high heels seriously and I am steadily amazed when one of them turns out to have some brains.

    Way to miss the point of just about everything, there, tizzielish!

  49. Tlönista
    October 1, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    I work on my feet, have rather small, narrow feet, and wear orthotics. I’m also not very feminine. Once you find a pair of shoes that a) fit and b) look good and c) you can afford, you want to stock up…but then that kind of negates c). What I wear for a night out on the town: Doc Martens boots. I can put my orthotics in them!! (For me, that’s a huge selling point.)

    For women, the cheapest, easiest-to-find, work-appropriate shoes are often horrendous for your feet. It just sucks.

  50. Bagelsan
    October 2, 2009 at 2:18 am

    “I don’t really take women in high heels seriously and I am steadily amazed when one of them turns out to have some brains.”

    Way to miss the point of just about everything, there, tizzielish!

    Hey, to be fair, I’m sure she thinks blond women and “pretty” women are stupid too!

    The few times I wear heels it is to look taller. Taller people get paid more, and get hired more. I do it for the monies (or in the most recent case, for the grad school interviews.) So bite me, tiz.

  51. Liz
    October 2, 2009 at 3:40 am

    I like wearing high heels. I wear 2 1/2 inch cushioned pumps with flexible soles (Clarks), and I can stand for 12 hours and it feels like i was wearing sneakers. For flats, I wear Ecco’s. Easy Spirit used to do a similar pump; but it’s not available any more. I’m very picky. If it isn’t exactly right (cushioning, flexible, style), I don’t buy it. Because when we buy an article of clothing, it should look good AND feel good. It’s not one or the other – quality comfortable and stylish products ARE out there!

  52. October 2, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    well, i guess i have to ahem, stand up for the Love of shoes. i’m sure i’ll get flamed for some of this, but i am a “shoe person” and i guess i can’t work up a lot of shame about it.

    i understand all the reasons why wearing painful shoes is stupid, and if it is forced upon a woman, misogynist and wrong. i understand a lot about the reactionary, anti-feminist nature of the fashion industry and culture of consumer/beauty. i consider myself a pretty aware feminist.

    let me ask if anyone can find, as i do, the subversive element in being a woman-centered woman, who at the same times enjoys an occasional public act of self-construction that plays upon and even reflects elements of various stereotypes, in an ironically conscious manner? shorter me: i used to love going to the clubs in super-ho stiletto femme mode, and throwing down with the (mtf)trannies who spent the big bucks on Shoe of the Week contests, esp on the podium and dance floors. there’s a whole, rich, gay sub-dialogue that goes on in such a public process.

    costuming is an ancient art. people of many different social statuses have spent time perfecting it, and it’s not always, or even mostly, about physical comfort. in a very sporty dyke way, i came to first obsess about shoes when i was a bigtime HS athlete. i had shoes for every mode of training and competition. specialty jumping shoes in three kinds, heh. later, i came to understand with the desperation of poverty what the ‘right’ shoe could help me earn. it was demeaning and i didn’t like it, but at the time it was the best choice, economically. today, i’m mostly barefoot. i wear punishing shoes by choice, part of me even gets off a little bit on knowing i’m still athletic enough to prance about in demanding shoes and look Fabulous, all night even. vanity, sue me. i will also confess to using shoes to achieve certain sexual goals. i’m not convinced that was wrong.

    if we’re going to talk about enforced modes of physical and material expression, let’s have at it. we’ll have to include things like hairstyles, make up, skirts and pants. like everything else in our society, shoes and clothes have been consumerized and politicized. but there isn’t uniformity of expression. nor should there be.

  53. Vidya
    October 2, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Interesting. I’d heard that shoes come in extra-narrow sizes, but I didn’t realise that (many?) people’s feet were actually that narrow. I guess I don’t see many bare feet.

    I still get amazed when I see women walking in high heels. I’ve never owned them — I’m a very fat woman who couldn’t possibly balance all my weight on my feet that way — and so it’s kind of a mystery how it’s actually possible to do it. I guess the mechanics involved are pretty different for women who have very low body weights. I admit that I am guilty of making superficial judgments about the intelligence of women who wear them, though, which of course I ought not to — but it’s difficult when a woman appears to be complicit in her own objectification. I can’t really put myself into that mindset to understand it.

  54. libdevil
    October 3, 2009 at 12:16 am

    “Shoes are the problem. No matter what type of shoe. Shoes are bad for you.”

    Even if that were true, shoes couldn’t possibly be as bad for me as frostbite, broken glass, acid/base burns, broken bones, and poisonings of various sorts.

  55. Robin
    October 5, 2009 at 2:02 am
  56. La BellaDonna
    October 6, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    @Robin: Heh! Not quite that pointy, but pretty close to it. However, I’m not interested in the spike heels, myself. I actually long for a low Louis heel – the kind that looks like this: ) ( – but good luck to me in finding them; they’re far and few between, which is a pity, because at least to me they feel as if they give good support AND are graceful. C’est la guerre.

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