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TOES DON'T LINE UP FOR POINTY SHOES

I have only one small problem with the fashionable pointed-toe shoes -- I don't have pointed feet to go in them.

I don't know about the rest of the world, but my big toe comes first in the toe line-up, not in the middle. Now, if I could rearrange things so the big toe was in the middle and the smaller toes fell in line on either side, I would be in toe heaven. Or shoe heaven. Or both. In any case, I would be a regular fashionista wearing shoes with toes so long they look like crocodile snouts.

Apparently, there has been some confusion at the designer's studio as to toe anatomy. As a result, a painful fashion trend has returned and women are once again wedging square feet into shoes the shape of a cardinal's beak. We women will all but lash ourselves for the sake of fashion. When was the last time you overheard men complaining about the fit of their shoes?

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: "My feet are killing me. Another five minutes and I'm going to blast these dogs off with an RPG."

Vice President Dick Cheney: "I know what you mean, Don. Yesterday, I wore Prada wing tips that actually gave me corns."

Can you imagine Michael Jackson complaining that -- oh, wait, never mind.

You should probably know that the first person to popularize pointed-toe shoes was not a woman, but a man -- King Henry II of England. Legend says he wore them to hide his deformed toes. Which naturally makes one ask, which came first, the chicken or the egg, the toe deformity or the shoe?

Pointy-toe shoes routinely remind me of two women: Marilyn Monroe, who usually kicked them off by the middle of the movie, and the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. When I first saw the witch's long, pointed-toe shoes sticking out from beneath her skirt, gut instinct told me the old gal would have been much better off in a sensible flat-soled saddle oxfords like I was wearing. And it turned out my hunch was right as, in the end, the witch wound up melting into a puddle of disgusting goo, proving yet once again that trendy footwear can be extremely hazardous to a woman's health.

As an adult, I have continued to believe that there should be an element of function before form. A woman ought to be able to expect something from pair of shoes other than an exorbitant price tag and gnarled feet. Say, something basic like the ability to stand, walk and keep a pair on for four hours at a time without grimacing in pain.

Turns out the pointed-toe shoes do have a function. In Australia, a 21-year-old woman used her pointy-toed shoes to fend off a man who attempted to assault her in a public restroom. The police inspector said, "Luckily, she had pointed-toe shoes on and she got stuck into him with the shoes."

Something is a wee bit obscured in the translation, but I think we (and her assailant) got the point.

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