I’m a hunt and kill shopper. I don’t wander or browse through stores poking around for whatever catches my eye. I arrive with a list of my targets; I’m in and out as fast as possible. It’s a surgical strike with no time to waste on distractions. This time, I have just one item on my list: cross-training shoes– my old ones were worn down at the heels and have thrown my back out once too often. Time for replacements.
I enter the shop, cautiously, with my list of one item and a gift card I’ve been saving for someting like this. I have about 20 minutes for this mission, then home for a late lunch and a meeting afterwards.
45 minutes later, I stumble out of the store with my crumpled list, my unused gift card and no shoes. If there had been background music playing, it would have been all atonal strings and still no shoes. It should have been an easy mission, but once near my target, I had to double and triple-check that I was, indeed, in the grown-up women’s shoe section.
Entire shelves look like they were stocked with bowling shoes. Bowling alley rental shoes contain colors and patterns so mismatched and mind-mindbogglingly ugly no one could begin to think about the possibility of stealing them. These horrifying bowling-like shoes are labeled women’s cross-trainers and are actual footwear for actual adult humans.
The entire ladies athletic shoe department looks like a playdoh fun factory has had an unfortunate accident. Some crazed designer has fashioned the resultant radioactive materials into footwear. Who designs anything like this for adults? I’m not against fun clothes and enjoy my share of glitter and color; I am seriously insulted by footwear that looks like a distress signal, designed to be seen from 5 miles up.
Women, we are 50% of the population, we run our society, we raise and educate children, we run companies, we vote, and we wear clothing. Yet, we bright, strong, and intelligent people are expected to buy (and wear) neon horror athletic shoes.
There are no alternatives to the bowling center monstrosities. I look. The only shoes that are even slightly sane are ‘fashion’ athletic shoes. Imagine sneakers with heels, no wait, don’t.
I finally give up on grown-up work out shoes and stumble blearily out passing the Men’s department. These shelves are stocked with athletic shoes. Not one radioactive, fisher price, or traffic-stopping shade of lime green to be found. The only accent is the occasional racing stripe–certain proof of speed. Men aren’t offered crayon box footwear, not even if they want it. Men get sane choices and I get wack-doodle footwear.
I’m done with trying to understand what’s up with clothing designers, why sizes and styles aren’t made for human women. I’m fed up with impossibly tiny mannequins, thigh gaps, and neon colors. I’m all about warm socks, comfortable tops, and earth tones.
Clearly, I’m not the target audience for any of these designers. I get that. However, I still have feet and several other body parts. My gym and most of polite society insists that certain body parts be covered, preferably with clothing. Yet, we all have to pick clothing and shoes from what’s sitting on the store shelves. It’s not nice to inflict that kind of emotional harm on delicate, angry shoppers or on those who happen to glimpse people wearing the limited choices of neon nightmarish styles.
The following week, after rest and recovery, I try again with my still-crumbled list of one item, my gift card, plus a bottle of water and several granola bars tucked in my purse. Less than 20 minutes later I make my exit, mission accomplished. It turns out that I wear a size 8 in men’s shoes.