Monday, September 24, 2007

<, =, or >

"hey, can i try these sneakers in a 9 and a 9 1/2?"

he snickers.

"what? is something funny?"

"no, no, i'll be right back."

he returns with the shoes, and before i even get the first one on my foot:

"it's a really great shoe. girls really like it because it makes their feet look small."


i say nothing. i'm looking at the shoe. it's cute. sleek. a little flashy in the way i like it to be (think South-Florida-Grandma). the toe, however, is a little pointy for my taste. who wants a pointy tennis shoe? he interrupts my decision-making process to repeat:

"yeah, girls really like this shoe, because it makes their feet look small."

now, i say nothing to this guy. i'm still angry with myself because i didn't respond with the irritation that i felt:

as in, "maybe i don't want my feet to look small. my feet are in happy proportion to my not-small body. i may not be fat, i may not be lumbering (this year), but i am not a small woman. if my feet looked smaller, i'd look like a Chinese woman with bound feet. if my feet were smaller, i would probably have a hard time keeping my balance, and this would make it exceedingly difficult for me to kick your ass."

no, i just nod and smile, and point out the features of the shoe that make it "slimming."

"oh yes, i see. it's a very delicate shoe. not a big sole, and it's very structured."

i'm such a pussy.

i wanted to scream.

it's not that i think this guy is a horrible person or anything. he's selling shoes. he says what he needs to say to get the sale (he did not get this one). i also get that many women (including myself) don't want shoes that make their feet look like oceanliners. what annoyed me was the insistence and assumption in his voice. the insistence and assumption that of course i want my feet to look smaller because i am a "girl." feet, that quite honestly and objectively, aren't particularly boat-ish in proportion to my 5'8" frame. by extension, it pissed me off because its the same insistence and assumption i heard in his voice that permeates our culture, whispering into every woman, man, child's ear that if you're a female, you must want to be smaller, daintier, slimmer, wispier. AND, it's not just your major body parts that must desire to be smaller - not just your thighs, belly and ass - but your ears, your feet, the circumference of your head, the girth of your ring finger.

oh my god, i can't believe i wear a size eight ring.

if you're a female, you must want to be less in every conceivable way.

i don't get it. i mean, i do. of course, i do. i've been trained very well. i still struggle with the desire to be dainty, but when i think about it logically, it really doesn't make any sense does it?

i mean, does the woman who takes up the least space win?

and i mean something other than the envy of other eating disordered women and the lust of insecure men.


April said...

Except if you really are small. Then you actually do things to look bigger.

For instance, I never appear in a work context without heels.

I wear clothes that make me look taller. I stand up very straight. No one thinks I'm as short as I am.

Why? Because no one takes a tiny female seriously. They're always thinking about how easy it would be to pick me up... literally.

I always wanted to be tall, until I saw how uncomfortable tall people are on planes.

Here is something I notice about successful, executive type women.

They take up a lot of freakin space.

No matter the size of their bodies, they take up the air around them. They don't make their gestures smaller to stay out of others' way. They don't scrunch up to let other people (especially men) get by. They don't offer to move over to give someone else a seat at the table. They take up space. You know, like men do automatically.

When in a work context, I take up as much space as I possibly can. And I buy, and wear, very big shoes.


margrocks said...

april -
yes! yes! yes! i love it.

sounds like the executive women you observe refuse to apologize for the space they take up. they've adopted the healthy sense of entitlement that seems to come with being a man - entitlement to space, money, power.

buy the big shoes, and spread yo' stuff out! your comment has inspired me to do the same (even if i don't have a choice when it comes to the big shoes).


Limegirl said...

I'm 5'4" and I take a size 9 shoe.

Yup. Size 9.

No one ever believes me, because surely someone my height can't have feet that big. But I do.

And you know what? I like my feet. I've never wanted small feet. If anything, I feel a glow of pride to know that I could wear a 9, even though I'm not a tall person. I like that the size 9 selection on the sales rack is usually more extensive.

Which isn't to say that I don't sometimes wish my feet wouldn't stretch the crap out of my favourite shoes through extensive width, but I actually really like my big feet.

I concur with the suggestion to take up space. Small is so effing overrated.