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Conspiracy Theory

by Laura W. Haywood


A few years ago (which means I don't remember exactly how long ago it was), the press discovered that Imelda Marcos had more shoes than libraries have books. Every comedian in the country was making shoe jokes, but I wasn't laughing. I knew why she had all those shoes: She was trying to find a pair that was comfortable.

If you are actually a senior woman, you have lived through "fashions" such as shoes that came to a center point so sharp it would be classified as a weapon under today's airport security rules; stiletto heels; platform shoes (which, heaven help us, seem to be back); and those ghastly little white boots you were supposed to wear with mini-skirts.

And then there are running shoes that cost so much you could buy a small diamond instead. I recognize that some — perhaps many — people think they are comfortable. I'm not one of them. That built-up back attacks my Achilles tendon, and they weigh so much I can hardly life my foot, much less run in them.

I'd like you to do me a favor. Stop reading long enough to take a good look at your feet, then go to your closet and try to find one pair of shoes that's shaped the same way.

You didn't find any, did you?

Notice that your foot does come to a kind of point, but that point is not in the center of your foot (unless you wore those sharply pointed shoes so long that your big toes are permanently bent toward the outside of your foot). Nature put the big toe (the point) on the inside of your foot. Working outward, each toe is shorter until you get to the last little toe that went "whee, whee, whee all the way home."

That means that any shoe that is pointed in the center, rounded (baby dolls), or squared off bears no resemblance to your foot.

I am convinced that it is no accident that shoes have every shape except foot shape. It is a conspiracy between the shoe industry and podiatrists. Think about it. Who benefits from this lack of foot-shaped shoes? Foot doctors, certainly — those shoes will drive you to seek medical help, not just once, but on an on-going basis. And the shoe industry surely benefits as we buy pair after pair trying to find just one pair that doesn't make us faint as we try to cross a room.

I'd suggest rising up in rebellion, but that's the fiendishness of this conspiracy. Our feet hurt so much that we "rise up" only when it's a matter of life and death, and we certainly can't walk a picket line or hold a march to publicize our cause. It is very difficult to make a statement while your feet are soaking in a hot tub.

But there is a weapon available to us and its perfection is breathtaking: the sit-down strike. But before we use this frightening, last-resort weapon, I'd recommend going out to buy just one more pair of shoes — with summer coming, maybe a pair of those strappy little sandals. I mean, there's no sense it being a fanatic.


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