It's Gotta Be the Shoes
Shoes are an important part of people's lives. Even people who don't spend a great of time thinking about shoes still spend a lot of their lives wearing them. Footwear serves us several functions: protection, support, warmth, and style. I have my own ideas about which of these functions are more important than the others, but certainly all of them (in addition to value) figure into our purchasing decisions. What this article is about, however, is what priorities must a girl have to be stupid enough to buy the shoes (pictured right and further below) which are becoming increasingly popular in Japan right now.
Starting Spring 1999 the super-high platform sandals (see left) which had been popular for many years in Japan started to fade away (thank god!). As the platforms ebbed, these open-toed back-strapless heeled pumps waned onto the fashion scene. Immediately picked up by college girls (the steamrollers of the Japanese fashion industry), these obnoxious shoes fail miserably in every function of footwear except one: style.
All open-toe shoes can be criticized for their lack of protection against dirt, dangerous debris, water, stubbed toes, and (supremely important for the Tokyo subways) other people's shoes. The lack of a supportive strap of this style of shoe makes it even less supportive than the already pathetically unsupportive healed pump of which it is a variant. The shoe is allowed to flip and flop up and down as the wearer walks. Not only does this cause slipping, tripping, and lost shoes, it also results in an extremely loud and horrible clicking noise as the girls walk up or down stairs. This clicking noise (which is always there, but louder on stairs) ensures that nobody is left guessing about the whereabouts of the nearest young fashion victim. While perhaps not as dangerous in times of distress as the platform shoes have proven, these new pumps are certainly responsible for a number of failed assault escapes and make the wearer easy prey for some mugger waiting around a corner.
But aside from the danger and impractical nature of these articles of fashion, there are more aesthetic reasons to dissuade their continued use. Simply put, feet are not a very attractive part of the body. Unless one has some kind of fetish, these appendages are better left covered by at least a layer of cotton or nylon, and preferable by something more substantial in addition to a sock or stocking. Toes in particular are rather odd little objects and prolonged exposure to them can cause nightmarish daydreams and hallucinations. Sure, the strapless design gives the illusion that the wearer's legs are extra-long, but this illusion only lasts a few moments and is not nearly as effective as a shorter skirt or shorts.
Another reason to dislike these shoes is the message it sends to social critics like myself. These shoes are a clear representation of the 'feminine' and are at the same the antithesis of functionality. Isn't it clear that these shoes make a statement about the inability of these Japanese girls to be realistic and productive. Are young women nothing but pretty dolls for the visual enjoyment of men and other women? I would hope not, but all the girls who bought the shoes seem to think so, and that tells a disturbing story about the role of women in Japan and the lack of women's willingness to do anything about it. The shoes people wear reflect their values and personality. What do your shoes say?