I need new shoes.

I need them to:
* fit well (on feet which are not the shape of the last they use for ‘normal women’ feet, so to achieve this I need a wide-fit option and/or to buy from the so-called ‘men’s’ range),
* have genuine arch support (so that it passes inspection by doctors and physios),
* be hard-wearing (I walk an average of perhaps two miles a day and hate shoe shopping), and
* be waterproof, and black, and smart enough to wear to work.

Ideally, I want them to be:
* ethically produced
* climate-friendly
* not involving the death of an animal.
I eat mainly vegan and people think I’m a hypocrite when they realise my shoes are leather (although I would also feel like a hypocrite if I had plastic shoes which turned out to have a higher greenhouse gas emission).

Ideally ideally, I’d also have some choice about what kind of gender markers my shoes display, but fit and comfort and ethics all tend to come first.

Usually, in order to fulfil the first list I end up at Clarks again, but obviously this doesn’t meet the requirements of the second list. At the moment I am wearing my old pairs of Clarks shoes to death, but I can see the end coming. People who are interested in the second list mainly seem to buy shoes online, but I suspect I’d spend a lot of money on return postage before I met the first list’s requirements that way. (I don’t mind spending good money for good shoes, but I’d rather spend it on shoes than on returning pairs of shoes that don’t fit!) I have needed new shoes for some time, but I hate making this kind of decision.

Actually, I had written most of this post when, a few days ago, my current shoes seemed particularly worn and I happened to be passing a Clarks shop. I found a pair which looked about right, tried them on, tried them on a wide fit – and said to the person who was serving me, “They still seem a bit narrow,” expecting that I wouldn’t be buying any shoes. But this salesperson said, “We have them in a extra wide fitting.” Extra wide fitting! Wonder of wonders! Shoes which are wide enough and not too long and comfortable and black and even slightly femme! And made of leather and plastic. And from a brand which is reliable and hard-wearing. Needless to say, I bought them, which has staved off this problem for another few years while I wear them out.

I’m not sure whether this was the decision making itself for me in a positive way (shopping always seems to me to contain a fair amount of luck/intuition/space for Spirit), or me defaulting to a bad habit because I haven’t the commitment or imagination to escape, but there it is. Invective about how I hate animals and the planet (and support sexist shoe design and all sorts of other terrible things I’d know about if I subscribed to Ethical Consumer) on a postcard please.


3 responses to “Shoes

  1. You feel really guilty about this. It is a bugger being a perfectionist: nothing is ever good enough. The invective is coming from within your own head.

    • Thank you for sharing this interesting response. I am fascinated by the way that this both makes me feel like you are trying to be sympathetic, and yet I don’t agree with most of what you’ve said. I actually don’t feel very guilty (although perhaps I should). I’m quite pleased with my new shoes, but interested in the complexities of the choices I have to make and the various constraints on them. I am also not really perfectionist at all – I’m a close-enough, bodge-and-manage, it’ll-be-alright-on-the-night sort of person – and yet several times over the past few months I have expressed a desire to do something well, or better than I am doing now, and someone has called me a perfectionist. It feels a bit dismissive: oh, you’re just a perfectionist, you’ll never get there so there’s no point trying. That makes me wonder whether it’s really my desire which is being dismissed, or whether the person who responds in this way is rejecting their own desire to join me in trying to improve. I prefer to think of myself as a hard-working idealist – if I know where I’m trying to get to and I start walking, I’ll get closer, and that’ll be better than never leaving home even if I also never arrive. The purpose of a post like this, within the long-distance walking metaphor, is to share some observations about my experience of the terrain and compare with others who might be heading the same way.

  2. I am not necessarily trying to be sympathetic. I commented on your last post too, which has some similarity: the struggle to walk lightly, doing less damage. Don’t be perfectionist could be don’t make me feel bad by doing better than me.

    I am a perfectionist, and it currently prevents me from taking action. And I am interested in feelings, which motivate the action. Why do you desire to send less to landfill, or wear better shoes, why does this occupy your attention. Is it the thought of invective from the person who has constant foot discomfort from ill-fitting shoes, which are plastic? I agree with your objectives of using less resources and killing less, and am less advanced in my movement to those goals. I am interested in the motivation- love of the Right, or fear of- being imperfect, or the invective of others.

    Maybe I made a bodged attempt at empathy (which is not always loving) and maybe just projected. I wrote, and worked out my response in writing; and was interested by your response.

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