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God Save my Shoes: one French woman explains why

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Women own at least five pairs of shoes according to the debut documentary by Franco-American director Julie Benasra, which celebrates women, sexuality, shopping and shoes. Any less means you’re not a real woman

The answer to the question of how many pairs of shoes women own is basically ‘how many more can fit in the wardrobe’. Women who like fashion have wardrobes overflowing with dresses, tops and bags too, but it’s rare to hear a fashion follower boast about the number of skirts or clutches she has. So why does a number when it comes to shoes inspire competition and admiration?

Does this affinity that women have with shoes stem from childhood? A pair of shoes is one of those everyday objects which is often assigned magical properties in fairytales. Being associated with walking and moving around shoes are linked to fictional characters giving them special powers which occur in mythology, traditional folktales and legends. The seven-league boots allowed the wearer to take great strides, whilst Cinderella’s slipper allowed the wearer to be found and Dorothy’s shoes allowed the wearer to ‘go home’. For modern women it’s about fashion; shoes can set the tone of an outfit. Our shoes speak on our behalf. Be they converses or high heels, they indicate our style. They allow us to play around with different styles and blur the lines; a sexy pair of stilettos or a quirky pair of shoes can transform an outfit that it too serious or sensible. They give us a way of changing our image from one second to the next.

Plus, have you ever heard a girlfriend moan ‘I’ve gone up from a 38 to a 39, can you believe it?’ We like shoes because they are consistent. Once we have reached adulthood our shoe size doesn’t change and we can buy our favourite brand practically with our eyes closed. If you gain or lose a few pounds your shoes will still fit you just as well as before. More than the object, the act of buying is important in itself. It is a completely selfish act, which is at times misunderstood by men as a female whim. In reality we buy shoes that are like us. Who am I? Where am I going? What image does this convey? At the moment of purchase there is a sort of vision of the future. This is the moment where our addiction really manifests itself. Who hasn’t ever returned from an afternoon shopping trip with a few pairs of shoes even though the wardrobe was already full? Who has never heard (from a man of course) ‘didn’t you already have those?’ whilst showing off their latest treasure, because the shoes that you bought were similar to another pair that you already had?

Yes, the story of women and their shoes is difficult to explain. Each has her own reasons, but practically everyone shares this obsession.

Images: main (cc) jiji/ flickr; yellow and black pairs courtesy of ©

Translated from Pourquoi les femmes aiment-elles tant les chaussures ?