This shoe. It looks innocent enough, right? Simple, synthetic leather foot bed, patent leather straps, sturdy plastic sole. I'm not even going to ask you to look at it any closer than that, really, because aesthetics aside, the issue is obvious. The only person this shoe would accommodate would be a person with a flat foot, which is technically a serious medical condition that increases the risk of arthritis in the feet and ankles.This is what women have to choose from every summer.
I'm currently facing the annual headache that is Summer Shoe Acquisition. When I was a little kid I told my mom, who had severely damaged toes and feet from decades of government drone shoe wearing, that I would never wear shoes that squished my toes. I've stayed true to this with the exception of a few special occasions when I've worn heels for formal functions. It has served me well, as my feet are not as hideous or angry as the feet of my peers can be, given the necessity for shitty shoes. I did, however, work retail for 40-60 hours a week for close to eight years. So while my feet look ok, they do not tolerate poorly constructed shoes that offer no support for any length of time. That coupled with the fact that I'm fat and prone to wearing out cheap shoes quickly, I find that I'm left with a dearth of tolerable shoe choices. I have wide feet (because of my bone structure AND because I'm fat) and I am a pronator. Win all around!
As a plain and simple person, I want shoes that are simultaneously comfortable in a way that actually supports the proper function of my foot as well as something not overly obtrusive or visually offensive. I am pro-Crocs, but they have not come close to making an attractive shoe. I also find that in the summer, when your feet are sweatier than normal, Crocs become a dangerous combination of plastic sauna and slip-n-slide during periods of time when I'm on my feet a lot. I continue to stay mad at Old Navy, who changed their flip flop design approximately two years ago forcing my feet to callous in two particular sensitive places. As far as cheap flip flops go, though, they are moderately squishy. I wandered up and down the aisles of Target's shoe section yesterday and was completely irritated by the polarized choices before me. Either I wear poorly constructed heels or flats to all of my life's functions, or I wear plastic flip flops in a variety of ridiculous colors. Or gladiator sandals. Ugh. There is no in between, and my life exists both personally and professionally in this fashion middle-ground.
What makes me most angry is that most of these choices, whether they are formal, casual or designed for the beach, are bad for your body. Arches fall, bunions grow, toes hammer, ankles break or strain, muscles weaken, arthritis develops, fungus grows, nails fall off. We do this for what? For fashion? To satisfy some ridiculous expectation that a woman's foot still maintains a sexually gratifying appearance despite being abused on a daily basis? To make our legs look awesome? I honor that this is Feminism 101 Outrage. Still though, I am an almost-31 year old woman who faces this Every. Single. Year.
Do you have shoes that you wear with any regularity that are legitimately comfortable, reasonably priced and relatively attractive? Or do you too suffer from the sweaty, ripped up, aching flat-footed misery of summer shoes? I really need to know.