By Bunmi Sofola
THEY could be killer heels or fabulous flatties. But there in the window stands a pair of perfect shoes. You’re a sane, intelligent woman— yet the fact that you already own a mini-mountain of footwear makes no difference. You go straight into the shop, try them on and buy,” so observes Sandra, a shoes freak. And she’s not alone. Today, a lot of women own more shoes than necessary. The big question really is: Why do so many sensible women appear to act irrationally when it comes to what they put on their feet?
“Women should not be judged or criticised for their love of footwear,” so defended Dr. Helen Nightingale, a consultant in clinical psychology and a shoe freak herself. She went on: “It’s not an addiction for most ladies, more of a hobby. Boys have toys and girls have their shoes; shoes just happen to be what some women collect because it’s what they love.
If this isn’t stopping them from paying their mortgage or doing their job, why would it be defined as a problem? Does anyone question why some men have five cars in the garage or boxes, and boxes of stuff for their computers?
“Women have more disposable income than ever before and they’re simply doing what men have been doing for years—indulging themselves.
The sexes make different choices of activities to engage in to spend their money. They will choose to spend it in a way that make them feel good.
So, while men splash out on computers, cars and football, women get more enjoyment out of spending money on their appearance. And unless we view every male football fan as foolish, it’s unfair to talk about women and shoes in these terms. Do men lose their credibility or get called irrational because they chose to take two days off work to go and “watch away matches?”
“I buy a lot of shoes and I enjoy investing in them. It makes me feel good. I don’t get into debt. What else am I going to spend my money on?” These days, more and more women are spending a fortune on shoes. This might, sound crazy, but according to Helen, “compared with the cost of being a football fan, it isn’t unreasonable. Season tickets cost a fortune and fans have to pay extra for away games and cup matches not to mention the cost of new football shirts. And while a lot of men the world over like a get-together and chat about football, a lot of women the world over like to talk about shopping and shoes.
“I was in America recently and had dinner with a group of loud Texas women. During the meal, one of them took off her shoes and put it in the centre of the table like some sort of adornment. Everyone stopped. It was a Jimmy Choo—a designer black Suede mule with guinea fowl feather on the front. It would have cost hundreds of pounds. Everyone said, ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ and where did you get them?” Women have always enjoyed making an effort with their appearance. As far back as the Egyptian times, women, always had a greater range of costumes than men. It’s always been about wanting to get other women to say ‘Wow!’
So why then do we seem to need even more pairs of shoes to achieve this wow factor? Shoes simply reflect the market. There’s more of everything to choose from these days, not just shoes. These days, shoes are no longer seen as a clothing essential to be bought on a replacement basis only. They are now an integral part of the fashion scene.”
And let’s face it, buying shoes in our own neck of the woods is a lot safer than investing in Aso ebi, a habit that has taken a lot of society wannabes by the jugular. Aso ebi, you can only wear once or twice after the event before they become obsolete. Shoes, as Helen puts it, are in a class…. “Part of the shoes business’ growing success has come from the fact that a pair of shoes can look good no matter who is wearing them. It makes no difference if you’re tall, short, fat or thin. If you buy an outfit, it’s about whether boobs, waist and bum look big in it. But feet can’t be judged like this—they’re safe.”