I have discovered something in the last year, not something wildly profound?something wildly frustrating. After having surgery on my ankle, I have lost the ability to wear heels?heels of any kind. I am hoping to, one day, gain this ability back, but for now it is my sad reality. I say sad not because I particularly like heels, but because it seems next to impossible to get a decent “dressy” shoe that is not a heel. Granted, where I live shopping is a bit more limited than other places. But, I have driven for an hour in one direction, and three and a half hours in the other direction for one purpose: seeking the elusive flat fancy shoe.
Last year I was looking for a more joyous occasion: my wedding. This year, sadly, it was the other end of the spectrum: a funeral. For my wedding I hunted high and low, if I could not go barefoot then I at least wanted a nice shoe. Not a sandal, but a shoe. I ended up having to order sandals online, but, before I succumbed to that, I shopped. When I went into stores to look, I would say I was, “looking for wedding shoes, but I need them to be flat.” I swear the saleswoman would stop listening after hearing the word “wedding” and low and behold she brings out this beautiful shoe. Perfect for someone’s wedding, just not mine, as it had a four-inch heel. Every time this happened I would have the same conversation with the saleswoman, each time my patience was wearing even more thin:
“Oh, well, it is for your wedding. Are you sure you can’t even wear a small heel?” Her voice dripping with condescension.
I would once again explain that,
“No, I cannot wear a heel, it is not because I do not want to wear a heel, but due to surgery on my ankle I cannot wear a heel. Yes, those shoes are beautiful, but I would like to be able to actually WALK down the aisle.”
It is a truly frustrating experience. If I was not limited in my shoe selection by my ankle I likely would have started the hunt for shoes with flats in mind, but would probably have ended up with some sort of a heel, because it at least suited the occasion. When I had this same experience only last week, it really made me wonder about the society we live in. It was one particular statement that made me stop and think:
“Why don’t you try Valhalla, they have more practical shoes for walking around.”
Valhalla is an outdoor store, similar to MEC. I have spent a small fortune in there outfitting myself for backpacking and kayak trips. While, yes, they have more flat shoes, they are all of that variety, not really filling my current need.
When facing these kind of patronising salespeople because I am looking for, of all the crazy things in the world, a formal flat shoe, it really makes me wonder at society. Why is it that society is brainwashed to believe we all have to dress alike, and look alike? Why is it that the only formal shoe readily available for women must be a high heel? I am sure there are plenty of women out there who would prefer a flat shoe and are wearing heels because that is all they can find. I am also sure there are women who enjoy wearing heels, and who seek that kind of shoe. There is nothing wrong with that, I enjoyed them to a degree before I lost my ability to wear them. But, why can there not be more choice? Why must we be all jammed through the cookie cutter to all fit into what society deems appropriate? I know that, in the big picture, this is a small and frivolous thing. But, if we can’t even get something so small and frivolous to change?what does that say about how far we have come in the deconstruction of antiquated social ideals?
I asked one of the shop owners if they would bring in more flat shoes. I relayed my frustrations in trying to shop for flats that are formal. While she seemed sympathetic and assured me there would be lots of flats to choose from coming in I have been going into that store for a couple years, looking at their numerous shoes, beautiful shoes, shoes that I cannot wear. In the summer months I have a bit more selection as a few more sandals come flat. But what about the times when the snow is flying? Which it does here at least seven months out of the year. Surely my choices should be more than frostbite or felt-packs.
Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature