Blue shoes begging to dance

Blue shoes didn’t top list of things I wanted. I certainly did not need them, but when they came into my life almost accidentally, I fell in love with them. These shoes may look quite ordinary, but to me they are very special. They beg me to dance.

Beautiful blue shoes
Beautiful blue shoes

English author Caitlin Moran recently inspired my interest in coloured shoes. This feminist comedian and columnist with The Times in London lists four things a woman should have. In her book, How to be a Woman, she says,

all women should have a pair of yellow shoes because, surprisingly, they go with everything.

Whenever I see yellow shoes, I wonder if their wearer has been inspired by Caitlin Moran. I’ve been looking but there are very few pairs of yellow shoes in the shops in Perth at the moment.

'How to be a Woman
‘How to be a Woman

Soon after I returned to the workforce when I became a supporting mother of six kids in my late thirties. I bought a pair of very bold purple lace-up shoes, similar to my new blue ones. I bought a purple top to match the purple shoes and felt amazing.

Earlier this year, my friend, companion-writer and editor, Christina Houen, was similarly joyful when she bought some purple shoes.

Most women probably take coloured shoes for granted. At least one woman I know has several pairs of blue shoes, as well as other coloured footwear.  But shoes of any kind have been quite a trial to me, until very recently. The nuns instilled in us the wisdom that patent leather shoes allowed the boys to see the reflection of our knickers. They were out. Coloured shoes, also, have always seemed a step too far.

Personal disclosure about blue shoes

I was born with a congenital defect which ensures that my left little toe is permanently twisted over its neighbour. Crawling babies and toddlers amuse themselves endlessly trying to straighten the toe, but it pops back up as soon as they take their hands away from it.

My mother had a similar hammer toe, and also one of my children. Hammer toes can be caused by wearing too-tight shoes, as well as genetically. They can be treated by splinting or minor surgery to stretch the tendon which causes the toe to twist.

But in the olden days, my parents took for granted that I would have to live with my minor deformity, and so I did. Like my mother, I have always settled for dull boring shoes that accommodated my toe. Sandals, so the family myth went, were out of the question.

Quite late in my life, I realised that there are sandals and sandals. Of course I can wear sandals, if I choose carefully. And I can wear whatever coloured shoes I like. I have to make up for lost time.

Emboldened by my purchase of these blue shoes, I plan also to invest in some yellow ones just as soon as I find some that I like.

I’d love to hear about family myths that have kept you from doing things you like. Please share in the comments.

8 replies on “Blue shoes begging to dance”

  1. How lovely! Have you started to dance? I have various coloured shoes, red, purple, silver/white and black (boots) but tend to rely on my staple dark red Naots in the winter and red Echo sandals in the summer — I need orthotics. I have a hammer toe too, caused by wearing those pointy toes way back when. I long since gave up wearing any sort of heel. Bugger fashion, comfort rules, as long as it’s stylish.
    As for family myths, mine is that my mother always told me not to draw attention to myself. ‘Don’t wear trousers because they show the crack in your bottom’. She always used to wear a corset until she got too old to do it up herself (all those hooks and eyes) so she stopped going out, as she was too proud to ask for help. And she always wore a hat and gloves when she went into town. I stopped wearing ‘step-ins’ after my first pregnancy. Even for that, I wore a step-in with a hole for my tummy when I went out. Then, when my first baby was about three months old, and I had to accept my figure had changed forever, my GP urged me to get a body corset (all in one). Thank god I had the sense not to.

    I still have a struggle sometimes about ‘drawing attention to myself’ but mostly, I please myself. I’m glad you are doing that too.

    1. I love these stories of yours, Christina. Thank you for sharing about step-ins and corsets. And about not wearing trousers. And about pleasing yourself. Women who please themselves always seem to look so much happier and full of life. Really can’t wait to find those yellow shoes. BTY, I have changed the picture!

  2. Shoes!!

    Inherited from my mother a passion for shoes. How I loved stepping out in my ridiculously high stilettos. Although, damn, I think they ruined my back!! When I see young/youngish women wearing their extremely high heels, I have to stop myself from going up to them and warning them of consequences. When I had my first spinal fusion back in 1988, the surgeon suggested it was possibly as a result of my fetish for my shoes – and, then had to have a second fusion 2006 – damn.

    Mother was very particular – shoes and handbags had to match in colour; gloves and hat also must match.

    Despite my mother’s -and, as an inheritance, mine – there was one day when I was dressed to go to work (I was 16 at the time) for some reason – which I cannot quite remember – Mother scolded me on my choice of shoe, told me I had to change. I did as I was told, secretly packed the forbidden ones in my bag, set off to get the bus to work, rang my workplace from a public phone at the bottom of the street, told them I was sick and then caught the train and ‘ran away’ up to my Grandmother’s place in the foothills of the Blue Mountains (was born and raised in Sydney) and stayed there for two days. Mother never ridiculed me again on my shoe choice. Wow – I won – I think the only time I did win anything with her.

    Still love my shoes now – although, sadly, cannot wear any with a high heel.

    Look forward, Maureen, to hearing when and where you find your yellow shoes!!

    1. It’s really sad the way people do such damage to themselves through the things they wear in the name of fashion, Elizabeth. I love the story of the young woman who was sacked for not wearing high heels to work recently (in London). She took her ex-employers to Court for discrimination, was reinstated and got compensation. She pointed out that the men in the office were not bound by such a silly rule. Caitlin Moran is strong about that in her writing. She says we should ask, ‘Are the men doing/wearing that?’ If not, she says we have a good argument if we don’t want to do something.

      My daughters have a passion for shoes – and all these years I haven’t understood how they could be remotely interested because I believed my mother’s myth. I think the corsets and step-ins that Christina Houen wrote about in response to my post must have damaged women, too. Perhaps including even us, although like Christina I threw mine out when I was in my twenties.

      I love your story about running away from home (to your grandmother’s) because you had an argument with your mother about shoes. You must have been either extremely angry or else very feisty. Bravo.

      You will hear about my yellow shoes, I promise.

  3. Maureen – our mother would call it ‘sky
    bish’ to wear coloured shoes! Same description if you wore summer clothes before the Royal Show. That was the ‘cut off’ date so we could change from winter to summer clothes. Back then the show was in late October.
    I have very bright turquoise gym shoes and a pair of blue and a pair of red sandals.
    But better than red shoes – I love a red bra!! Never too old for a red bra I say!j

    1. A red bra! I never would have thought that of you, Elizabeth, and I thought I knew you pretty well. I have never had a red bra – I thought my black was ‘skybish’ enough. Now I want a red one, too. I’d forgotten that word that Mum used to use. I love it. When I look back to how she lived, I think are so lucky to live in this century when people dress pretty much how they want to. We should be making the most of it.

  4. I actually ‘ran’ away from home twice in my younger years. I had done something very ‘naughty’ (can’t remember what – have done so many naughty things – still doing it) and my father told me he was going to put me in public school as punishment. In those days, as far as I can remember, there were only tow types of school – Catholic or Public.

    I was mortified and hardly slept all night. Got up really early, donned a good pair of shoes, and walked all the way to my paternal Grandmother – that distance would be similar to Perth to Upper Swan. Those shoes were definitely made for walkin’.

    As soon as I arrived, she rang home and I had to get the train back to Sydney. I did not end up at the local public school. Whew!!

    My next ‘running away’ I have already shared – but chose to go to my maternal grandmother that time. Knew she would not send me home – spent a lovely few days with her.

    What on earth would we do without good walkin’ shoes?

    1. Gorgeous story, Elisabeth B. I don’t think I ever ran away from home. Wasn’t brave enough. Whatever would we do without good walkin’ shoes, indeed. And without maternal grandmothers? Mine was a dear. Although I was down the pecking order because I had older cousins, I always felt special with her, and had lots of sleep-overs at her little workers’ cottage in West Leederville.

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