Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bad Shoes & The Women Who Love Them by Leora Tanenbaum

I don't think I've ever posted twice in one day (with two book reviews, at least), but I had a long weekend, and whipped through a few books --- and this one was a short, fun read, so I didn't want to wait to share!

 Summary (taken from the back of the book): "Bad Shoes and the Women Who Love Them is a lighthearted but informative wake-up call to women to make smart decisions when buying and wearing fashionable shoes.  It explores the significance of shoes, the psychology behind the foot fetish, the history of foot binding, feminist critiques and celebrations of high heels, and the evolution of elevated shoes."

And here's what I thought:
This was a short book, but packed full of information --- and fun!  Leora Tanenbaum fills this book with facts about how bad shoes can literally wreck your feet (and your back), and why, despite pain, some women continue to buy shoes that are excruciating to wear.   However, it's not a dry book at all!  Even though it's informative, this book is a fun read.   The overall message is: just because a shoe is sexy, doesn't mean that it's good for you.  And sexy shoes can create ugly feet. 

I have to admit, I do have a love of shoes.  However, over the years, I have realized that it's just not worth it to wear shoes that, however beautiful, make walking absolutely excruciating.  However, I can still appreciate a beautiful pair (just like I might appreciate a painting that I will never be able to afford).   I did, however, have several moments during this book where I was thinking, "Yes!", or "Definitely!"  Tanenbaum points out that for some people, shoes become symbolic of a period in our lives, or a certain experience.  I definitely identified with this.  Ok -- get ready for some digression -- if you want to know more about the book, skip to the next paragraph---   I bought a pair of Frye boots (flat, almost engineer-style boots) when I was planning my first trip to Britain.  I wore these shoes throughout the trip, and when I got home, they became my weekend dancing boots (I used to go to an industrial dance club just about every weekend).   I literally wore the boots out, had them re-soled, and had them re-soled a second time.  However, each time they got re-soled, they got a little narrower.... and a tish bit uncomfortable.  Did that stop me from wearing them?  No!  I just wore thinner socks with them.  Eventually, they completely gave out.... but of course, I couldn't throw them away.  No, no, I had to keep them, sitting in the bottom of my closet, just because I had an emotional connection to them.   Finally, this year, I looked at them, and threw them out.  It had been about 12 years, and I got sick of looking at them (finally).    By that point, I didn't feel bad about tossing them.    However ---- this was not the reaction I had when I returned a pair of shoes to Zappos a few years ago.   I had found an absolutely gorgeous pair of green velvet shoes, with ribbons, and a platform heel.  Gorgeous.  So I treated myself to them for my birthday.   Unfortunately for me, when they arrived, I put them on.... and found that they were so painful, I couldn't walk at all in them.  I tell you, I almost cried when I put them back in the box and sent them back.   I resented my toes, which somehow developed arthritis, making it impossible for me to wear the shoes.  But, I didn't think I was going to find a way to wear these beautiful shoes, so I sent them back.   It's been a few years since then, and now that I take a bunch of glucosamine pills every day, the arthritis has gotten better.   And, of course, the shoes don't exist on Zappos any more.   I still miss them.   :)

But I have digressed enough.   I found this a really enjoying read, and while I learned some things I didn't know before I picked it up (including some super-scary stuff about foot surgery), what was nice about this book was that I felt a bit of a connection to the subject.  While I don't torture myself to wear a pair of heels, I could appreciate that sometimes, I do put up with a bit of discomfort (my trick is to wear some shoes only at work, and only for a few hours).   Tanenbaum covered the subject of shoes, and the history of footware, in prose that was funny, and insightful.  I could definitely see giving this book to a few women I know, and then getting together to talk about it (over a bottle of wine -- and some shoes!)    If you've ever had a love of shoes, or felt like you couldn't part with a favorite pair, this is a book for you!

Where I got this book:  LibraryThing Early Reviewers (thank you!!)


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