Here is an excerpt from Vir’s column:
I’ve been trying to work out why women are so obsessive about shoes. Part of the reason must be that they need more shoes than men. They try and match their shoes to their outfits so they need a greater variety of options than men who will rarely venture beyond black, brown and sneakers. Part of the reason must also be that shoes, like sunglasses and handbags, are designer products that are shape-neutral. If a very fat woman walks into Chanel, she is unlikely to find anything that fits her. Designers tend to make clothes only for women who are tall and slim. But even a less than perfectly-proportioned woman can wear expensive shoes and beam with pleasure when her friends recognize her red soles.
But I do believe that it goes beyond rational thinking. Women who are obsessed with shoes are not motivated by logic. They just know that they must have yet another pair of very expensive shoes. It is a compulsion rather than an obligation.
Put it down to wiring. When God made men, He wired us differently. He told us not to worry too much about what we wore on our feet.
But when He made women, He threw in a shoe gene that made them lust after footwear irrespective of the price. And then He sent them Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin to make their dreams come true.
With due respect to Vir Sanghvi’s good observation, here is what I have to say as a worthy representative of my sex.
Women like and collect shoes for the same reason that an art collector buys and collects art for beautiful shoes are not just shoes but poetry in leather. Or fabric, as the case might be.
I am rather ashamed of this story. But it is a story worth being told. A little after our second baby was born, I had this bizarre dream in which I am looking out of my bedroom window and I suddenly notice the sea rise in a tsunami like wave. Our building is at a good distance from the sea and we have no sea view to speak of. But this is a dream to let’s stick with the script. Still looking out of my open window, I watch the tide rise and move forward, drowning building after buildings that lay on its way to our building. Now I can see it is only a matter of seconds before we too will be swept under this tsunami. Panicking I run to my husband and ask him to take both our girls to the terrace of the building for safety. I then grab our dog and dash to my room, open my shoe closet and start to figure which of my shoes need to be saved and taken to the terrace with me.
I missed the climax of my dream but I did not miss the message in it. That I will sacrifice anything for my shoes. I have fairly large feet that have figured in my blog before. Calling them platypus feet would be doing justice to their dimensions. Maybe I am insecure that I won’t find shoes my size easily and that explains my response to the tsunami in my dream.
I do not want to get into what this dream speaks of me as a wife or a mother or even a dog owner. Maneka Gandhi would disapprove that I would even dream of risking my dog’s life during a tsunami in favour of saving shoes made of animal hide. But this is how it was.
Shoes don’t merely lift a woman’s carriage they lift a woman’s spirits too. We buy them till we run out of places to store them. We collect them with the same pride that people collect Razas and Husseins. We suffer in them, we suffer for them.
With our shoe closets spilling over, we promise our dads, husbands or boyfriends that we will not buy any more shoes. But we throw away the shoe box and sneak them into our homes in our hand bag anyway.
Sometimes the shoe pinches, at times the heels numb our calves with strain and at times the shoe that fit us well a few weeks ago seems like it has gone too big. But we don’t discard them. It is just reassuring to just see them in the closet now and then and to know that they are around.
Maybe Imelda Marcos got judged harshly when she said “I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes. I had one thousand and sixty.”
The world is full of women like her, she just got found out.