There was a time…

…when I hated shoes. (This post is apropos of nothing, so don’t look for deep meaning here.)

It was just that I was bought up on a farm, and whenever I could, I went barefoot. The soles of my feet were as thick and as good as leather. Even in winter, I often ran about without shoes until my feet turned blue with cold.

I dutifully went off to school wearing shoes – leather sandals (without socks) in summer, and proper shoes in winter – but usually took them off to play on the unsurfaced playground at school. [Things changed at highschool – these are my primary school days I am talking about.]

I was a good sprinter and often represented my school at interschool meets – and always ran barefoot. School ovals were always grassed back then, none of these cinder tracks.

As a result, my feet never welcomed being crammed into shoes. They were broad and the toes spread, so it was hard to find shoes that fit. One of the aids we had to buying shoes back then was an x-ray machine (I kid you not) in all the major shoe stores. The shop assistant would turn it on and you put your foot inside the machine where you could see your foot skeleton and how well it fitted into the fuzzy outline of the shoe… Try on half a dozen pairs, and you could do it half a dozen times in a row. For both feet. If ever I get cancer of the foot, I’ll know why, won’t I?

A British immigrant family came to live in the area and the wife remarked at how shocked she was to realise how poor the community was. When asked what made her think that, she remarked, “Well they can’t even afford to buy the children shoes…”

Believe me, parents all tried to put us kids into shoes, but we just whipped them off first opportunity we got. A glance around the classroom would reveal that at least half of us – especially in summer – were sitting there with our feet bare, our soles black from the combination of residue from the oiled jarrah wood floors and the dust of the playground.

I guess this could be why I have never been enamoured of wobbling along on high heels or platform soles. I still wonder why we women do it. Sure, high heels make for a sexy walk and taut long-looking legs – but at what price? Twisted ankles and broken bones, back problems, bunions, pain – the list is endless.

I do have one pair of heels and wear them on occasion. They even make me feel elegant. And I wonder why we emancipated women do it. I marvel why, at my age, I still feel compelled to wear heels – and I wonder even more why I feel good doing it.

I want to be back in the Kelmscott School playground, under those huge Norfolk Pines, in the heat of a summer day, drawing patterns in the dust with a bare toe and not feeling the least bit self-conscious about it…


There was a time… — 5 Comments

  1. I think that time is partially still here.

    When my daughter went to school in Townsville, they seemed to have a sort of ‘no-shoe’ policy inside the school grounds. When I came to pick her up from school, there was this mountain of sandals just inside the door. Often, my daughter took home two left shoes of two vastly different sizes. May I add, too, that this was a supposedly ‘exclusive’ private school.

    I always feel sorry for those women who can’t go out the door without neat shoes and/or make-up. Last year, I attended an end-of-year picnic for my daughter’s class, and all mothers except me and one other turned up in high heels and make-up. On the beach! I kid you not. It was stinking hot, too. None except me and said other mother went into the water.

    Where did these women stop living? When did they start behaving like dowagers?
    Baffles me.

  2. Apparently if a woman is trying to avoid an unwanted pursuer, walking quickly in high heels is better than trying to run in flat soles or barefoot … something to do with less strain on the calf muscles, perhaps. I don’t know. It might be one of those things dreamed up by a man which sounds good in theory but doesn’t work too well in practice when a pervert is sprinting up behind you at speed. :

    My mother always had the habit of running around barefoot, and my sister and I inherited it.

  3. Now I hate being barefoot. I take after my father I guess as my mother didn’t mind a bit. I have always got something on my feet, even if its only flip flops. However, I have more or less given up on high heels. Nor do I wear much makeup any more although in my younger days I used to plaster myself in order to “Look good”. Isn’t it silly the things we do to be part of society?

  4. I had the same dislike for shoes when I was young. I spent the first 10 years of my life in a farm cottage in the bush and went everywhere barefoot until the soles of my feet turned to hard leather and my feet broadened. I was forced to wear shoes to school but the shoe shop in the nearest town was hard pressed to find any shoes wide enough for my feet. I got into trouble at school for removing my shoes and socks on more than one occasion.

    I have heard of some women who constantly wear high heel shoes, even at home, are beset with serious pain in their achilles tendons when they stand barefoot.

    Fashion and peer pressure have a lot to answer for.

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