toe shoes, or, sartorial crimes against humanity

Let’s be frank here: I am in no way a shoe snob. Though I do have a closet full of ill-fitting Aldo clearance merchandise (Seriously, the lack of half sizes mean that they are just an eensy bit too big, ensuring that you trip over yourself while walking down State Street, thus disrupting your whole moment of ‘Wow, look at me, in the city slash urban landscape looking all fucking purposeful. I am amazing.’ And then, whomp. Or, they are just tight enough that a four-hour stint of wearing them gives you multiple blisters and bizarre chafing. My point, beware the sale rack.)

But in the summer, I’m probably traipsing around my own house barefoot, getting the soles of my feet caked with dirt and bits of partially masticated catfood. Pool and beach require a near-constant wearing of Old Navy two-buck plastic industrially produced flip-flops. And a few years back I discovered a cast-off pair of Teva Mush sandals in a box left in my graduate student housing. (To be fair, they looked mostly unworn. I say mostly, because that does seem a bit icky, now that I actually think about it.)

So the Tevas have stayed, put into heavy rotation along with some classic low top black Converse and some moccasins that stain my feet a sort of brownish red and make them smell like a rotting log. Yet in spite of my own, more or less pedestrian and proletarian footwear sensibilities, there are some shoes that I just cannot stand the very sight of.

Take Uggs, for one. I know they must be comfortable as all get out, being lined with a dead sheep and all, but they completely live up to their name in terms of being abso-fucking-lutely hideous. They cause my stomach to wrench up in knots and make me want to throw things. Wear them around the house or to get the mail, if you must, but I’d rather not know.

Crocs are possibly even worse. I’ve worked in kitchens, and I get that when you’re standing on concrete for twelve straight hours, you might want your feet to be comfortable. And, certainly, the fact that they would likely repel an accidentally dropped chef’s knife is no doubt an added bonus. Everyone wants to keep their toes.

Keeping your ten lower digits intact, though, is not the same as glorifying them. Toes, while no doubt providing certain functions, like balance and weight distribution, are just god-awful to look at. They are gross, like mutated little stumps of half-developed fingers. People who are dexterous with their toes– playing the piano, say, or drawing a picture of an alligator– straight up squick me out. Don’t want to know, would rather not think about it. Nothing to see here.

Which is why these, the Vibram Five Fingers Toe-Shoes, may be the most horrific of them all. They claim to provide a safe alternative to being barefoot. But why, in urban life, would you ever ever ever want to be barefoot? It’s like a mine seeded field of cigarette butts, broken glass, crumpled newspapers and Blazin’ Hot Cheetos bags down there. Fuck, I don’t want to be barefoot in that disgusting mess. I’d rather put on a second pair of shoes to layer over the first.

I’ve seen totally normal looking guys wearing these to the gym, in the goddamned weight room, or to go running by the lakefront in. One guy was walking around downtown Chicago with a totally normal, if somewhat hipstery ensemble of sport coat, button down, and faded jeans, and then these demonic things.

People, we have to live in a fucking society here. I get that it’s a rough world out there, but you’re not spelunking, or climbing up a sheer rock facing where you need a toe-hold. You’re walking streets full of pigeon shit. Please, make it stop.

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2 responses to “toe shoes, or, sartorial crimes against humanity

  1. I agree, toes are gross. Liking toes counts as a ‘fetish’. These shoes also belong on a fetish site. With like, one creepy guy who accounts for all the hits.

  2. This is hilarious, Erin. I actually have a pair. I randomly tried some on at a shoe store in Austin and then had dreams that night that I was a cat-monkey-burglar who could scale walls and jump from building to building. I bought a pair the next day because I was so excited that the shoes could make me feel like a creature.

    The problem is that they make me LOOK like a creature, too. And a kind of ugly one. So I basically only wear them when I know I’m unlikely to run into anyone fashionable.