New shoes challenge old knowledge

new shoes challenge old ideas

Buying new shoes challenged me. At best the activity bored and, at worst, depressed me. Once or twice, a pair of shoes captivated my imagination. An orange pair, the year I turned 39. They matched, perfectly, an oversized pumpkin-coloured jumper I wore that winter. Forty years later, a blue pair made my feet twitch with delight.

I wrote a blog about those blue shoes. You can read it at Blue shoes begging to dance.

Between those magic purchases, buying shoes felt like a chore. A painful chore that had to be done as quickly as possible and forgotten. I thought my feet were for ever to be encased in ugly shoes, at first because of my hammer toe and later by encroaching arthritis.

My mother’s hammer toe set the precedent. All her life she believed she could not wear sandals and could not wear ‘pretty’ shoes because of her toe. Of all the stories she could have told me and lessons she taught, this one stuck.

Black, brown, navy. Sandals, if I had to, with wide straps to hide the unsightly toe and for comfort. Later, shoes that accommodated orthotics. Lace-ups. ‘Mary Jane’ styles with straps across the instep. Yuk!

Why people cover their feet

I never understood why people love to buy shoes. In my view, shoes performed strict utilitarian and and cultural functions.

  • Shoes prevent burns on hot footpaths and beach sand
  • Prickles don’t penetrate shoe-soles
  • Feet stay warmer in shoes (and socks)
  • They stay drier in wet weather
  • It hurts less if you drop something heavy on your foot when you’re wearing shoes, or even steel-capped boots
  • In our society, adults wear shoes almost all the time they’re in public and expect everyone else to wear them too.

I tried not to notice how decorative well-shod feet look. It wasn’t exactly envy because I’d learned my lesson about my own feet only too well. I practised disregard.

For readers interested, here’s a link to some history: The Fascinating History of Footwear. It covers the last 40,000 years.

Whispers about new shoes

Last year my dear sister, Elizabeth Worts, told me about her new sandals and how much she liked them. I could hardly believe we were discussing the taboo subject of shoes! She told me about a brand she found easy to wear. Sandals in lovely colours. She sent me photos. Tempted me.

I bought several pairs, and tripped through the summer feeling special and well dressed.

My hammer toe didn’t hurt. Perhaps it would never have hurt. Less bulky ‘dress’ orthotics replaced the usual set and did the job with arthritic joints.

I bought another pair, a different colour.

Yesterday, I went with one of my daughters to a shoe sale in a major department store . She’d shopped the day before, and saw some shoes she thought I’d like. Me at a footwear sale, for goodness sake! What next? Could I be the woman who hated buying shoes?

One pair, whisky-tan. Another, blush, not-quite-pink. Beautiful soft leather that glows. The young woman who served us went out of her way to find the right colour and size. They’re sensible and supportive, fit like gloves, feel like slippers and, in the same way as the blue pair of a few years ago, make me want to dance. Magic!

Confronting old knowledge

The deeply ingrained myth that condemned me to a long life-time of ugly utilitarian shoes has been dismissed. My mother’s reality, imposed on me from my earliest years, hardened into some kind of ‘truth’. I lived by that truth, faithful to early teaching and without question.

Orange and blue shoes (both lace-up) challenged the myth. But not deeply enough to create change. It took my sister’s example and my daughter’s insistence to make a real difference. Such an about face!

Perhaps I could have learned this lesson earlier, or in some other way. However, at eighty-plus I’m simply glad I learned it in time to enjoy my new shoes.

But it makes me wonder how many other myths from childhood I still harbour and live by. Hopefully, they’ll also become apparent. Perhaps I’ll challenge other ideas and make more changes in the near future.

I’m curious to know from readers who have recognised old painful myths and how you’ve challenged them. Please leave a comment and help to carry on this conversation.

This post is linked to the Weekend Challenge which is run by my friends, SueW at nansfarm.net and GC at themainaisle.com

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11 Comments

  1. Wow Maureen, your words dance with the shoes! It’s a seemingly plain topic that you bring to life with your colourful, lyrical phraseology. I enjoyed reading this post so much.

    As for myths my Mother espoused, well so much of what my Mother said, turned out to be true, like how she washed and recycled plastic bags. Us kids thought she was nuts! But how wise she was! But myths…

    The only one I can think of is that my Mum believed in everything the Doctor told her. She never questioned their advice nor listened to what her own body was telling her. Whereas I have found that we have to take a lead in our own health management. Listen to what the doctor says but listen to your self more closely. Question specialists who say ‘you need surgery,’ seek further advice, get the facts and then make a decision. Though I respect western medicine hugely, it doesn’t always have the answers. We have to find our answers from many sources and most of all from ourselves.

    She also believed and taught us to believe that Bank Managers know best. She thought that they genuinely cared about you as a person. She dutifully invested her savings exactly as they advised. We all know that this is a far cry from the way it really is. And perhaps in those earlier days she was right. But now? No way.

    1. Love your response, Tricia. Thank you! Especially that you say my words dance with the shoes. Brilliant, and I’m glad you enjoyed the blog. Thank you for telling us about the stories your mother told you. They echo mine.

      My mother also agreed with and believed in everything doctors told her, even in light of some misdiagnoses of health issues. I totally agree with you that we must question health advice and learn to manage our own health by getting second opinions, refusing unnecessary testing, and questioning the need for treatment. So far, I’ve managed to have my tonsils out and my cataracts fixed in 82 + years, and I’m feeling pretty fit and happy. I love being able to see well, and passing a recent driving application test (for all over 80s) with a score of 6/6 vision. We also need to understand it’s OK to change doctors if we aren’t being listened to properly and our opinion is not being respected.

      I also learned a hard lesson about banks and bank officers forty years ago, when I was working, supporting children and had a deposit for a house. I was refused a loan from a reputable bank because they said, ‘You have no husband’. Since then, I’ve winged it my own way.

  2. I used to love buying shoes but that was when my feet tolerated pretty high heels. Today, I dislike buying shoes, I cannot wear flat shoes but neither can I wear heels, and one foot is wider than the other.

    If the truth be known I’m not too keen on any kind of store shopping, so I think I’ll manage with what I have for another year!

    I said that last year too and the year before!

    Thank you for taking part in the challenge, Maureen.

    1. Feeling sad for you that the joy has gone out of shopping, especially for shoes, SueW. As a new convert, or like someone who has recently given up life-long martyrdom around shoe buying, it seems such a pity you can no longer indulge!

      I also get that you are over store shopping in these days of COVID-19. Let’s hope a vaccine that works will soon be available to provide immunity. Although we are free of all active cases except six travellers who have returned to Western Australia with COVID, there is enormous wariness in our community about moving around, shopping, gathering, etc. Things look very grim in England and the UK generally. xx

      1. You are so right, Maureen, it’s very grim over here. It makes me very angry that people have once again caused this.

        Oh please don’t be sad about my dislike of shopping, I honestly do not mind, in fact, it’s a good thing not to have that desire and I delight in how much money I save!

  3. I inherited from my mother a passion for shoes – in last few years trying to lesson my addiction!!

    1. Oh, Miriam, that is so sad. I really understand not being able to wear shoes you love.

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