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High-heeled Banana Shoes

photo: bowling shoes

Bowling shoes. Yuk!

Paris Life - No. 19

by Laurel Avery

Paris:- Friday, 3. October 2003:- I think shoe designers must be technically incapable of making a pair of shoes for women that both look good and are comfortable. For some reason, when designing shoes, the last thing a designer considers is the actual shape of the human foot. Today's stylish footwear seems ideally designed for Dr. Seuss characters.

When I left the U.S. I thought about looking for a pair of shoes for autumn, but figured, "Hey, I'll be in Paris, the center of the fashion world. It's not like I'll be moving to Peoria or something, where I won't be able to find a nice pair of shoes." I think I would have had better luck in Peoria.

One of the odd things about me as a woman is that if I find a pair of decent-looking, comfortable shoes I will wear themphoto: dominatrix almost every day. I'm no Imelda Marcos. Seasonally, I may change between two or three pairs of shoes in total. I realize by saying this that people may wonder if I'm truly female, but I don't see the necessity of having excessive footwear.

It seems like I've looked in every shoe store in Paris to find something that had some modicum of style while being comfortable at the same time. All right, perhaps I exaggerate, but I definitely looked in at least 50 shops. Rue Meslay, in the third arrondissement, is a shoe shopping mecca.

Paris parody booties. Would look great in 'Vegas.

Both sides of the street are populated with one shoe store after another. A few of them sell only in large quantities, but the majority are happy to sell you just one pair. I did find shoes that were comfortable enough, but they looked like something no woman would consider wearing until she was at least 80 years old.

Shoes are either practically flat and look like something you would wear to your local bowling alley, or have pointy toes and a spiked 4-inch heel, which makes you look like a dominatrix. There should be a sign in every shoe store - 'Whip and handcuffs free with every purchase!'

There are no wide or narrow widths in France either, as there are in the U.S. If your feet are out of proportion with what is considered 'normal' you're out of luck.

Unfortunately, I have what could be considered 'duck feet.' Wide and flat. So when I try on shoes inphoto: granny shoes my size, 38, which is the approximate equivalent of the American size 8, they are too narrow, but a size 39 is too long. So I either have to put up with feet that feel like they are clamped in a vise or get a pair of shoes that are so long that I look like a circus clown.

Another thing I don't understand is the popularity of suede shoes and boots. Isn't this Paris, where it rains all the time? Do these people ever actually leave their apartments and walk on the streets when it rains, or are they magically transported in sedan chairs to their destinations where their new suede shoes will not be stained by precipitation?

Need another look in 40 years - granny shoes.

Or maybe the French are so wealthy that they can afford to wear a pair of shoes only once or twice, then when they get ruined by weather they simply throw them out.

In my eyes, true justice would be for these shoe designers - who I believe are primarily men - to be made to walk around in each of their creations for a full day on the rainy cobblestone streets of Paris.

I'll bet women would even pay good money to see this, and the proceeds could go to help pay for women's high-heeled bills at the podiatrists.

Text and photos, Laurel Avery © 2003
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