Shoes: Pleasure and Pain
Truer words were never spoken! I think shoes are not about ‘need’, but more about ‘like’ and ‘love’ and ‘pleasure’ and ‘status’…and where there is pleasure there must be pain!
Every woman I’ve talked to says she wants comfortable shoes…but they fall in love with the form more than the function, with the colour and style and sexiness of the shoe, and with the way the shoe makes them FEEL!
A recent exhibition in London, UK, looks at the extremes of footwear from around the globe.
“Extraordinary footwear appears in folklore from all over the world. In these stories, our choice of shoes has consequences and can reveal our true selves. The virtuous Cinderella is restored to her rightful position in the world through her slippers, while Karen’s red shoes discipline her for her vanity and ill-advised aspirations.
Shoes punish and reward, elevate and entrap, speed and hinder through their powers of transformation.
Fairy-tale shoes for men and boys often give the wearer powers to fly, leap and dash about. Such magical footwear, generally boots, transports the wearer great distances and can even grant a cunning cat the power to move among humans.
Throughout the centuries and across cultures, footwear has symbolised high social status. Often impractical in decoration and shape, these shoes make a clear statement that the wearer does not engage in manual labour. Such shoes also dictate the way the wearer moves, and how they are seen and heard.
The design of shoes has created many identifiable symbols of supremacy and privilege, from the red heels of Louis XIV’s court to the elaborately embroidered moccasins worn by the Iroquois elite. These shoes, just like a pair of Louboutins today, show that the wearer belongs to an exclusive circle.
Removed from their practical purpose, shoes are part of a performance. Their appearance in public can transform the wearer into a king or a queen.
Shoes play an important part in what different cultures consider to be sexy. Together with feet, they have long been the subject of fetishism.
Sexy shoes affect the movements of the body, titillating the watcher and creating a sensual experience for the wearer. These shoes are often strongly associated with gender. Femininity is typically represented by shoes that make feet look small, either in reality or through illusion. Big, heavy and military-influenced footwear carries masculine connotations. Wearing shoes while naked makes nudity all the more audacious.
Fashion has constantly borrowed from subcultures, including the fetish realm, to push boundaries and to create the new. Shoe fashions around the world reflect changes in sexual attitudes.
Shoes equal sex.
Shoes are commodities and collectibles. The luxurious and impractical shoes that clearly signal privilege and status have long been objects of desire. Spending large amounts of money on a pair of shoes is pleasurable because it is excessive. From the designer shoe lover to the trainer enthusiast, footwear obsessives do not acquire shoes for their value as assets or investments. Shoes are collected for the pleasure of possessing, because of the beauty of shoes and sometimes for the memories and associations that go with them.”
How do you FEEL about shoes?