I recall the exact moment when I began to ruin my feet—shopping at a flea market in Lyon, France where I was an exchange student my senior year of college.
The culprit? A pair of black pilgrim style lace up shoes for only 50 francs! (That was $10). A steal, a bargain—a mistake. My feet were frozen all winter and sweated through the summer as I walked in and out of quaint shops, cavernous museums and charming restaurants wearing those plastic (plastic!) toe-crunchers. I hit a chalet in the Alps, heard music in Paris, and fake-studied at the University without a care for the future well being of my youthful tootsies.
This was also the time of life where one could eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for dinner on Friday night and still rock skinny metallic pants on Saturday afternoon.
Later, more bad shoe decisions were to come—5 inch platform butterfly-embroidered mules that I fell out of in the middle of a 5th Avenue traffic stampede, heavy wooden ‘70’s clogs with a secret roller skate compartment underneath, and yes, even my delectable golden Manolo Blahnik wedding shoes with the spindly heel and organza bow (worn once, then regulated to a special spot in the closet).
Foot pain felt like a fact of nature in the Darwinian quest to be ever more fashionable. Stomp or be stomped by the next girl’s stiletto, or so I thought.
Today, the clothing at major department stores frequently strikes me as ill-fitting and cheap(ly made). But the shoes? The shoes give me that addict’s zing, that feverish shot of hope that this shoe will be the perfect fit to shift my day from lousy to legendary.
A lot to ask of a mere accessory? Maybe…but I already have my summer footwear picked out, and it’s not what you might think—I’m not doing strappy, laced-up or slung-back. I’ll be sporting these crazy looking toe shoes that work the muscles in your feet—the antithesis of my former footwear choices. Then again, these days I’m happy to be chasing my sons across the playground, not hailing taxis to the next fashion bash.
And not a chance I might lose my footing…