feeling the pinch
March 29, 2007 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Ouch. My feet hurt just from looking at this post.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:19 AM on March 29, 2007

posted by Devils Rancher at 10:24 AM on March 29, 2007

Cruel Shoes
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:30 AM on March 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

I never get sick of that Shoes video. Something is wrong with me.

These shoes RULE. These shoes SUUUUCK!

Stupid boy.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:46 AM on March 29, 2007

Interesting post, Nicky! I liked the art shoes, the bata shoe museum, and the historical shoes, but I was hesitant to click on the punitive and lotus shoes links... the idea of footbinding still makes me cringe to think about, and the idea of punitive shoes is cringeworthy on a lesser scale, evoking ideas of ill-fitting dress-shoes or having to break in new ones.

There was an excellent article in National Geographic about shoes a while back, covering the gamut of practical to pure fashion, with some gorgeous photographs.

The Virtual Shoe Museum is an interesting and exceedingly well-indexed site. You can search by color, material, usage, shoe type, and more.

The Shoes or No Shoes? Museum, located in Kruishoutem, Belgium, has a wonderful site, neatly divided into Shoe Art and Ethnographic Shoe collections.

On the history of shoes: The first shoes were estimated to have come into widespread use 40,000 to 26,000 years ago, and there's also a nice historical overview of shoes (with neat illustrations) from the United Shoe Machinery Corporation (which I'd never heard of before but sounds like a company that would have put out strangely interesting educational videos).

(Okay, I just looked them up, and apparently they were one of the first international companies and were a part of a massive antitrust lawsuit before being broken up. Weird.)

More on the history of shoes in China.
posted by wander at 11:29 AM on March 29, 2007

Heh, we think alike, ms. nickyskye!

What a fun post, I love the shoe museum - look at these adorable bunny shoes. I like the way the collections are organized globally - great stuff. Hmmm, Toronto? That looks like it might be a fun excuse for a weekend road trip this spring.

wander just beat me to the Virtual Shoe Museum, which I was going to add - I'm rather lusting after these cute things from their collection.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:43 AM on March 29, 2007

I remember seeing old foot bound ladies begging on the street in Hong Kong. So sad.
posted by vronsky at 11:46 AM on March 29, 2007

Wang Ping's Aching for Beauty provides a decidedly thorough, sometimes intriguing look at foot binding from both a personal and historical perspective. If you're in the mood for a really long book about a decidedly unnerving practice.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 11:53 AM on March 29, 2007

Help, I can't stop watching this Kelly video!
posted by hermitosis at 12:23 PM on March 29, 2007

These shoes are 300 dollars. These shoes are 300 dollars. These shoes are 300 dollars. Let's GET 'EMMM!
posted by miss lynnster at 12:30 PM on March 29, 2007

Cruel shoes

Ballet shoes and boots can indeed be used to inflict suffering. However, I do know at least one woman who wears them because she likes them. True, she can barely walk in them, but, well, she has this shoe fetish and these are kind of the ultimate high heel. So she saved up her money and got a pair.
posted by Clay201 at 3:37 PM on March 29, 2007

miss lynnster : Something is wrong with me.

You and my wife both. She can't walk past a shoe display anymore without singing that song under her breath.
posted by quin at 4:17 PM on March 29, 2007

Great post, nickyskye! Lotsa fun and interest!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:19 PM on March 29, 2007

whenever i get a bit jaded on the road, touring the ethnic zoo, i find myself thinking "meh - tribals. whatever. they're just regular people wearing funny shoes and hats"
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:41 PM on March 29, 2007

posted by Wonderwoman at 7:56 PM on March 29, 2007

miss lynnster writes "These shoes are 300 dollars. These shoes are 300 dollars. These shoes are 300 dollars. Let's GET 'EMMM!"

That's such a cute top
That's a cute top
I wanna borrow it
Let me borrow the top
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:28 AM on March 30, 2007

mjjj, Looking at your original post, I was horrified and surprised my post was so similar to your original one 3 years ago (yikes). Shocked by the similarity and also pleased that you said we thought alike, which is such a compliment. :) Guess the PunitiveShoes site triggered thoughts about some of the bizarre footwear women have worn on their feet throughout history, which it must have in you too. I'm a dedicated crocs style shoe wearer these days, so the idea of those ballet shoes with heels just boggles my mind.

wander, What a wonderful comment. Loved your excellent and informative additional links. Thanks! Really enjoyed the Shoes Or No Shoes site and your research on the history of shoes.

Out of curiosity I wondered what the hell the Untited Shoe Machinery lawsuit was about. Apparently it was connected with monopolisation. The company was located in Beverly Massachusetts, which is where the Parker Brothers toy company also is based. They created the game, Monopoly, and I wondred if there were a connection. The historical overview of shoes you linked has some hilariously punitive shoes of yore, like the laminated metal sabbaton, the Estiveau and patten.

One of the things that interested me years ago on a class trip to a museum, was being told by the teacher that until the last century shoes weren't made for the right or left foot but one shoe duplicated. In spite of being the foundation of our physical movement as human beings it seems that feet got short shrift. Or the ability to move was taken away from women by having them wear punitive shoes, like the lotus ones in China with foot binding (according to Aching For Beauty) dating all the way back to the 21st Century *BC*. A few years ago I visited a nursing home and there was a tall and regal looking elderly Chinese woman with bound feet, sitting in a wheel chair. She was a real sourpuss compared with the equally old but playfully vital Chinese peasant woman I was visiting, who had unbound feet.
posted by nickyskye at 7:35 AM on March 30, 2007

nickyskye: Glad you liked them! Yeah, I kept trying to figure out what the lawsuit was about, too, but there seems to be very little information on the company in general. It doesn't even have a wikipedia entry. I'm not sure if there is a connection to Monopoly, although that would be interesting. From what I remember, monopoly was created by an out-of-work salesman during the great depression.

(Upon going to double-check this... It turns out monopoly has more complex (and sordid) history to contrast the Rockwell-esque story that Parker Brothers gives. Apparently the precursor was created by Elizabeth Magie, an American economist and follower of Henry George, and called 'The Landlord's Game', in which she "designed to demonstrate the evils of land monopolism." She tried various times to sell it to Parker Brothers, but was turned down. It then also gained popularity as a teaching tool at colleges, and from there spread around to different schools. It then grew popular in various communities, and spread around the country, going through various iterations and changes, until it finally reached Charles Darrow (the aforementioned out-of-work salesman), through his wife. The two worked on the boardgame with their son, eventually turning it into the game everyone knows today. Charles Darrow took it to Parker Brothers as his own invention, where it was turned away (until they heard it was selling well already), and they eventually agreed to accept it, after making some changes to the rules. Parker Brothers eventually bought out the rights from Elizabeth Magie for $500 and the agreement to sell her original game unchanged, which was fine with her as all she wanted was to spread the ideas of Henry George:
"A reporter for the leading afternoon daily newspaper in the nation's capital, The Washington Star, wrote about Lizzie Magie's game in an unbylined story published Jan. 28, 1936. By that time she was Mrs. Elizabeth Magie Phillips of nearby Clarendon, Va. As part of the story interview, the reporter asked Mrs. Phillips how she felt about getting only $500 for her patent and no royalties ever. She replied that it was all right with her if she never made a dime so long as the Henry George single tax idea was spread to the people of the country.

The story in the Star was headlined "Designed to Teach - Game of Monopoly Was First Known as Landlord's Game." It would be the one and only time in four decades of newspaper and magazine articles about Monopoly that the game's true origin would be publicized. From then on, Parker Brothers made certain, through a rigidly controlled publicity program, that every story about Monopoly to appear in print would state Charles Darrow invented it. Forty years had to pass before another journalist would take up where the long forgotten Washington Star reporter left off and put the equally forgotten Lizzie Magie's name in print again. "

From "The $500 buyout". More examples of early precursors here. There's much more about the long and sordid history of monopoly at Wikipedia's History of Monopoly article. The part about Ralph Anspach and the creation of the Anti-Monopoly game is really quite interesting.

It's strange. I really liked the story of a down-and-out salesman creating a popular boardgame from whole cloth, but there's something very American, in both the best and worst sense of the word, about the real story. The game was created as an individual goal, a way to share a cared-about idea by a single person, and through sharing and collaboration through others, it creatively evolved into something new. Then it was bought out and co-opted for use by a large corporation for its own profit, the original makers unacknowledged or compensated, and the original history covered up and altered. I'm not sure whether I'm glad to know more about the history or not.

I'm not sure if I will look at monopoly in the same way again, though.)

That was an unexpected tangent. Anyway, back to shoes. Yeah, some of those shoes in the historical overview of shoes were quite bizarre and uncomfortable-looking. The things that made me wonder, however, were the fact that the Estiveau and the Sabbaton had to be outlawed before people stopped wearing them. They don't seem like they'd be comfortable or practical at all, and so what I want to know is what the motivation was to keep wearing them. I realize the same could be said about some modern footwear, but it doesn't seem like it's quite the same extent. The same goes for the Scarpine. There's something ridiculous and unweildy about them, and they were outlawed too. The other thing I want to know is why they were outlawed, and what public harm they did. If people wanted to wear bizarre shoes, why not let them, unless they were somehow causing a nuisance.

One of the things that interested me years ago on a class trip to a museum, was being told by the teacher that until the last century shoes weren't made for the right or left foot but one shoe duplicated.

I'd like to know more about this. It makes sense, but it doesn't at the same time. For things like Japanese Geta sandals, or Moccasins, or Mukluks, it makes sense. But for a lot of sandals and shoes, it doesn't. I feel like I've seen examples of ancient and older sandals and shoes that looked like they were fitted to a specific foot rather than duplicates. I'm trying to find examples, but I feel like I've seen them in museums or in books. (The closest thing I could find to ancient greek sandals is this company, Melissino's Art, making updated versions, so I don't know how historically accurate they are. I wasn't going to share it because of that, but it's actually a neat site that I thought you might like.) Anyway, if you learned more on that trip, I'd like to hear about it!

I looked at the book description for Aching for Beauty, and I can only hope that the first mention of footbinding is only that, a mention. The quote seems like it's somewhat figurative, meaning that it could just be a description of someone having small feet, and I hope it is. I shudder to think that the practice might have been around for so long. To me, footbinding is one of the darkest parts of Chinese History, and the idea that a woman's mobility would be taken away without choice and in pursuit of a standard of "beauty" is appalling. Were you able to talk to those two women in the nursing home? I'll bet they had some interesting stories to tell, and it would have been interesting to be able to compare the two. I wonder if they ever talked to each other. Thanks for the nice reply!
posted by wander at 12:42 PM on March 30, 2007

wander, What a delight to discover your treasure trove of a comment! Days late in replying though. I apologise.

My God, what a fascinating history of Monopoly! Amazing. It almost seems deserving of a Broadway musical production, a movie or at least a book or two. What a saga of convolutions and cover-ups. All for a game. The hisory of the Monopoly game reminds me of the brilliant documentary, The Corporation (now viewable on Google videos).

Thanks for the entertaining and interesting education!

As for the shoes of yore being duplicates, not made specifically for either foot, on the ShoeInfoNet site about shoe history it says, "As late as 1850 most shoes were made on absolutely straight lasts, there being no difference between the right and the left shoe. Breaking in a new pair of shoes was not easy. There were but two widths to a size; a basic last was used to produce what was known as a "slim" shoe. When it was necessary to make a "fat" or "stout" shoe the shoemaker placed over the cone of the last a pad of leather to create the additional foot room needed."

Am ignorant about why shoes were outlawed but it seems others have been curious about the subject too. Love this blog discussion about shoes incorporating religious images. Just discovered the HighHeelShoeMuseum. Astonishing to see what humans have done in wanting the body to be other than it is, naturally. Or cover the natural body up beyond recognition.

Melissino's Art site has my all time favorite Greek sandals and very affordable too! Thanks!

The Chinese aristocrat in the nursing home with the bound feet only spoke Mandarin. Not a language I know. But she didn't seem the chatty kind of person with whom it would have been able to have a conversation. The Chinese peasant woman in the nursing home was a kind of surrogate grandmother. She was my neighbor for almost 20 years. Her feet were unbound and also her spirited sense of life. We didn't speak each other's language but developed a loving, warm relationship. She loved to walk, to move, explore, go on outings...all the way to her 100th birthday.
posted by nickyskye at 10:23 AM on April 2, 2007

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