The Big Issue : Edition 558
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 23 MAR–5 APR 2018 11 PHOTOSBYJAMESBRAUND MY MUM, BLESS her small, swollen, misshapen feet, had brutal bunions. A legacy, no doubt, of a life lived in many a tropical climate, where her susceptible English lower limbs ballooned with heat and retained water. Never a quitter, she squished her feet regardless into pointy shoes because, as women always do, fashion. Short and soft, Norah was not a woman with a strong, finely turned ankle, and by the time I was a teenager and casting covetous looks at platforms, she was wincing every time she forced on anything more unforgiving than a slipper. There were a lot of orthopaedic sandals in my mum’s tottering later life; herds of velcro died to service her need for adjustable straps. As a teen, desperate for cool and acceptance, I yearned for platforms as a dog does for bratwurst. Unfortunately I was spaghetti thin and tall for my era, shooting up to 185cm when I was 13. I have never required “lift” from a shoe. My feet were (and remain) size 12 flippers, so the de rigueur poo-brown solid-state 6” T-bar wedge platforms I finally found in my size gave me a clumping, Frankensteinian air. They were almost immediately retired. But I’ve only recently stopped staring, wistfully, at main street shoe displays. I’m not immune to fashion, and there are some gorgeous bits of shoe porn out there. Literally the only reason I don’t have bunions, shortened Achilles tendons and hammer toes like every other muppet is simply that a) any heel over a couple of inches gives me enough height that I need planning permission, and b) so few nice shoes tend to come in a 44 that shopping for them still comes with a trigger warning. I’ve cried a river over the shoes I’ve been denied. My freakishly large feet diverted me decades before my time into “comfort” shoes, chiropractic even, which meant that despite salivating over the latest in cute, sculptural, » Fiona Scott-Norman (@FScottNorman) is a writer and comedian who writes for The Biggish Shoe. FIONA Best Foot Forward “There is no ‘follow me home’ range in the arch support aisle.” adorable something somethings, I’ve been forced to endure unremarkable, well-fitted, well-made, expensive shoes with toe room and arch support. There is no “follow me home” range in the arch support aisle. As a DJ, for weddings, parties and corporate this and thats, I’ve seen a lot of women wearing lovely shoes. As I drive to and from said gigs, I see a lot of young women out on the town, heading to clubs, in shoes that must have looked catwalk fabulous in the mirror before they left home. But the real world demands more than a pose in front of the mirror checking your shoes are on point with your outfit and/or your butt. Once you’ve clocked yourself, given yourself a thumbs up and turned to leave, the illusion of sexiness, power or professionalism evaporates. Because fashionable shoes are simply not made to be worn. Look around. Women can’t walk properly, can’t stand comfortably, can’t listen to a speech without shifting from foot to foot. Men do not have this problem, they’re relaxed, strong, responsive in their secure flat lace-ups. Women limp, women totter, women hobble, women can’t run, women are off balance, women whinge because their feet hurt. This is bullshit. No matter how cantilevered, adorable and butt- arching the shoe, in action they’re not remotely alluring or workplace forward. They make us look weak, vulnerable and tired. Because we are. There are exceptions, notably drag queens, professional dancers and Beyoncé, but they’ve learned to not let pain register on their faces. There is a saying: “No hoof, no horse.” Women, we recently had International Women’s Day. May I suggest celebrating by buying some shoes in which you can kick arse?