The Shoe Must Go On

In WAG’s October “Extremities” issue (hands, feet and feats), China expert Audrey Ronning Topping has a searing account of how her missionary grandparents – who founded a school in the interior of China that is now 4,000 students strong – helped end the abusive practice of foot-binding at the end of the 19th century. It got me thinking about what we women do to our feet. Oh, sure, we’d be horrified at a practice that would reduce our tootsies to three inches, with the toes curled in such a way that the foot resembles a hoof. But what about our love affair with uncomfortably fashionable shoes?

The other night I wore a pair of cut-out peep-toe platform three-inch heels whose faux suede material was too hot for the late-summer temps for no other reason than they matched my coral cocktail dress. Getting them on and off was a painful trial and reminded me of the story New York City Ballet principal Sterling Hyltin (Hill-TEEN) told me about the time she had a corn between her toes. It took her 20 minutes to put her pointe shoe on and she broke out in a cold sweat. The things we women do for art and beauty.

I say let’s make the men the primary sex symbols. Art historically, they’re better at it anyway. Although when it comes to feet, theirs aren’t as neat.

Reading more of Audrey’s China memories and Sterling’s adventures with toe shoes in WAG’s October “Extremities” issue.

– Georgette Gouveia

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