What can the new fashion for flat shoes tell us about the cultural need to control women? [Bound Feet Blues]

The Guardian has this amusing piece commenting on the new fashion for flat shoes for women.

“Fashion trends generated by the fashion industry exist to make life complicated…. Now that the fashion industry has realised that women are fed up with being told they need to wear five-inch heels to look stylish, they’ve proffered flat shoes, but complicated ones.”

For me, there’s also something about fashion that is meant to make those in the latest fashion feel special – AND to make those who don’t have the latest outfits and accessories feel small, ugly and humiliated.  It’s a power thing – a way to control women to fit in with the self-styled “elite” arbiters of what is fashionable. More than that, this mindset also extends to body image – by making us all want to fit in to an ideal skeletal body shape so that those who don’t end up  feeling shame and self-loathing. It’s a way of controlling women and our bodies.

In researching the history of bound feet for my story performance Bound Feet Blues, I’ve been reflecting on fashion and its insidious destructive power.  The elite in ancient China set the trend for bound feet and as it became more popular among women in general, the “small foot” mindset led women to be more and more cruel – in order to create the smaller and smaller foot because that tinier the foot the more you were at the pinnacle of fashion. The specific practice of foot binding may have died out in China but I think the mindset remains – and is with us, not just in China, but all around the globe.

So although flat shoes may be in – much to the relief of many women, it would seem – the control mindset, it seems to me, will still remain unless we truly freely choose to wear the shoes that work for us in our specific lives regardless of others’ judgement. And that, I suppose, includes women choosing to wear stilettoes if they want to…

After all, far be it for me to be a “shoe Nazi”! My aim in my Bound Feet Blues is to invite people to reflect and question the cultural mindset that we may all be taking for granted but may not in fact be serving us well. Our approach to fashion – being “in” with the in-crowd, fitting in,  being accepted through fashion –  is one of those mindsets that I feel is very much worth talking about.

You can read the whole Guardian article at http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2014/mar/24/flat-shoes-fashion-complicated-pool-sliders-trainers-ballet-pumps-wonky-ugly

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yahalafashion/6665872317/sizes/n/ by http://www.flickr.com/photos/yahalafashion/ on flickr.com (CCL)

Find out more about Bound Feet Blues at www.BoundFeetBlues.co.uk

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s