“The Problem with Birkenstocks” by Annie Kreighbaum illustrates so perfectly the fantastical through-the-looking-glass distortions of reality that we collectively we know as “Fashion“. Unpacking this article was kind of fun in the “Wow..really??” sort of way. What wasn’t so fun is that amount of shaming that is going on and the expectations of self-policing and in general the absolute necessity of being hyper-aware of you looks and how others perceive you.
“Birkenstocks are the Chipotle of footwear. Like opting for a burrito bowl and a side order of guac at the end of a long workday, you wear them when you’re in no mood to try. And you don’t feel too bad about it either, because they reek of integrity and liberalism and therefore don’t invite the same harsh criticism as things like foam flip-flops or Arby’s. But still, too much Chipotle is never a good thing.”
Just so we are clear where the biases are, as a person who wears Birkenstocks all the time, the idea that they are somehow the Chipotle of footwear just leaves me scratching my head. That somehow they are a last resort when you are “in no mood to try” – well that grinds against my feminist fancy in an entirely different way and is definitely the topic of another post.
“Your foot might splay a little bit,” said NYC podiatrist Dr. Hillary Brenner in response to a rumor my coworker’s friend, this girl Alison, heard from her shoe sales guy at Jeffrey that all the Birkenstocks and locker room slides women are wearing nowadays are making their feet bigger—thus forcing them to size up on their Fall ’14 footwear purchases. 38? Guess again, now you’re probably a 38.5.”
[Alarm Klaxon] Whoop whoop whoop! Ladies it is with considerable regret that I have to inform you that your feet are getting….*whispers* bigger. You thought Cinderella was just a story! Oh no no no, Double XXers – you have to live by this shit because the grotesquery of moving from a 38 to 38.5 must be considered a horror that should not be named.
Unless of course you’re a bland, humourless, feminist killjoy like myself who lives for blaming on this sort normative buncombe.
“Splay” is a great word, and by that Dr. Brenner simply means that the muscles and bones inside of your feet are getting a nice little stretch and they don’t want that feeling to end. So it’s not like they’re gaining weight—they’re just not as toned.”
Gaining Weight!?! Gaining Weight?!? Good Lard! Anything but that… Is there no hope? Also, how do feet that are squished inside shoes that don’t fit = toned?
“Your foot gets comfortable in these types of shoes and only certain muscles are working. Then when you go into a high heel that’s more narrow and stiff, your foot can’t splay as much. Different pressure points are being loaded, and you’re having to use muscles you haven’t used in a while.”
Wait, what? It sounds like you’re making an argument that it’s just ‘different muscles’ being used when you go from ergonomic brikenstocks to the damaging instruments of torture known as high heels. You’re not actually making that argument against healthy feet and promoting the damage high heels are responsible for?
“But there are abs somewhere under the mushy softness of your lazy Birkenstock feet, and they can be un-splayed and ready for the heel-loving city life.”
Holy hell, you are toe-tally going there. Because having footwear that fits is completely the equivalent of “mushy softness”. Did you feel the lip curl of disgust there? The comparison between flabby abs and now your damn flabby feet? Can we get a little more hate and shame on for female bodies?
What, exactly the fuck, is heel-loving city life? Who loves manoeuvring around in the frigidly winter-dark icy streets in high heels? I want Dr.Brenner to try the icy-fun-dance in high heels – the pain of his twisted ligaments would bring me a great deal pleasure (keeping with the theme of the post, would that be shodden-freude ?).
‘Dr. Brenner suggests training your feet back into a pair of your old heels rather than buying new ones, “You still have the same foot as you’ve always had, it’s not growing wider, it’s just getting put into a different device.”
“Oh,” says the doctor who, in theory. has sworn to do no harm – you ladies just need to acclimatize to having your toes squished and your tendons abnormally stretched. It is like taking a round with the thumbscrews before heading to the rack…you just need to warm up!
“You’ll feel it at first, in the same way that your body will feel sore after the first time of doing a workout tape. But after a while your body gets used to that workout and new muscles are being stimulated. Eventually you won’t feel as sore. It’s a good idea to wear a variety of shoes overall, so that your entire foot is being worked on a regular basis.”
All you need is time to get used to wearing damaging footwear. Awesome.
“So, and correct me if I’m wrong, the takeaway here is that you can eat as many burritos as you like, just do it while wearing heels?”
No. The take away is that you’re advocating against women wearing shoes that properly fit and you’re attempting to shame them into wearing shoes that can potentially damage their bodies.
Did you catch the “subtle” sexist trope?