‘My mama bought me brand new shoes. Soweto kinda dancing shoes. She didn’t know what my size was. The ones she bought fit me too tight. I gotta put them on ’cause I’m gonna be dancing. I gotta put them on ’cause my shoes are too tight. Ayashisa amateki, this is not my size,’ sang veteran South African pop star Mercy Pakela in the ’80s.
A nostalgia-inducing bop, but also an unlikely ode to uncomfortable shoes, this is relatable content for me because much like pop star Mercy’s takkies, my shoes aren’t always kind to my feet. See, shoes are my Achilles heel; but unfortunately they also hurt my Achilles tendons. And so begins the story of my love-hate relationship with trendy statement shoes.
Here’s a disclaimer: my feet are eyesores, so I wear pretty shoes because I have not-so-pretty feet. Although incredibly small and delicate (I’m a size three), they have sharp turns and dangerous curves (courtesy of my mom’s genes). Mercy’s mom bought her tight shoes, while my mom gifted me pods (A.K.A feet) that make shoes a little unbearable sometimes.
What the ’80s singer and I therefore have in common is that I too have to ‘put my shoes on because I’m gonna be dancing’ regardless of a slight pinch here and there. However, I don’t mean dancing in the literal sense.
Dancing for me is that well thought-out morning route from my flat to the MyCiti bus stop in my colourful, gentrified neighbourhood, and again in the evening from the office to a different MyCiti bus stop in the bustling CBD, with its squalid pavements. It’s a routine – my ‘5,6,7,8’, both in terms of the clock and counting in the rhythm. And what this choreography requires is a different pair of dashing stompers every day because my shoes are essentially my transport – my pedestrian luxury automobiles.
Sometimes I take my yellow Jeep Wrangler for a spin, while on other days I cruise in a silver Merc; perhaps on Wednesday I’ll give my red GTI a go, and on a special occasion I might flex in a black Porsche Cayenne – but I always have my safe and reliable Champagne Volvo for those low-key days. But fuel is expensive and even the run-flat tyres give in sometimes; hence the ride gets bumpy and somewhat uncomfortable.
So why suffer for this sartorial cause? Do I subscribe to that ‘beauty is pain’ adage? Not at all.
Yes, I could easily just buy a bigger size, you might be thinking, but there’s no bigger dream sold than by the comfort you feel when you try on shoes in the store and you think that brief stroll to the mirror is the litmus test for comfort. I swear, in that moment, not even a man could sell dreams of such a high calibre to woo you. And I should know this by now as a shoe-salefiend, yet I fall into this trap payday after payday, going from to blister to callous and even metatarsalgia at times. As a result of this, I’m an avid buyer of plasters, which I use as a protective barrier between my sling-back shoes and my ankles. Ballerinas and I are pretty much in the same Whatsapp group, especially at the end of a long walk with these babies on:
Ultimately, my point is, bring back half shoe sizes for footwear that isn’t just sneakers. A large majority of retail stores don’t make half-sizes anymore. However, biology doesn’t work that way, whether your feet are big or small. Half-sizes (one barleycorn if you prefer) therefore create that marginal allowance for our toes, bumps and bunions to wiggle and breathe. Just kidding, I don’t have bunions.
Barleycorn grievances aside, I must say that the fact that some shoes literally hurt my sole is actually not going to deter me from splurging on a pair once a month. ‘I’m gonna put them on even when they’re too tight,’ so let them shisa.
Signed, the Sartorial Podiatrist.
*The Sartorial Podiatrist is a weekly column dedicated to my love for all things footwear related, which you can now look forward to every Wednesday.
The post Introducing The Sartorial Podiatrist: On The Logic Of Wearing Shoes That Hurtappeared first on Marie Claire – South Africa.
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