Thank God it's winter, because I can wear boots of one sort or another most of the time. And that means much, much less pressure on my ordinary shoes. I'm now down to only three pairs of flats that I can wear out of the house. One of the black ones is for really dressy occasions. The other black pair is for smart casual, and has become my default pair of evening shoes. And the third pair, champagne-coloured, is OK for daytime shopping, but is getting somewhat tatty, and by next summer will be fit only for the beach.
I don't normally wear heels. I assure you it's true. I actually have no high heels whatever, and only three pairs of medium-heeled shoes, which I hardly ever put on. Whatever the gain in better leg and bottom shape, they make me look taller, something to avoid at all costs. But the main reason for my not wearing heels is that they put undue weight on the ball of each foot, and make my toes feel crowded and uncomfortable. There is no way that I will sacrifice comfort for fashion, or do it for the sake of a girlier appearance. If it is really girly, that is: I don't see very many natal girls or women sporting heels away from situations where they are more-or-less obligatory - as part of a job dress code perhaps, or to look conventionally alluring when tottering from nightclub to nightclub. They must be hell to wear all day.
So no heels in my life! Strike one against my being a girly role model then.
It must already be apparent that I haven't got a vast collection of shoes, and you'd be quite right. And yet I am perfectly aware of the massive impression a really big shoe collection can make. I recall one girl at the office some years back who confessed to having nearly two hundred pairs of shoes. That may not be so terribly unusual - many of the women that I've discussed this topic with over the years wished they could afford just as many. It's not merely to have something suitable for absolutely any outfit or any occasion. It's just as much to possess enviable objects of beauty and style, as many as possible, each pair a reassurance that the owner is worth it. Shoes represent happiness. The more shoes, the more happiness. They also represent female power. Each fresh addition, needed or not, adds to the prestige and self-confidence of the woman who has made the purchase. Expensive shoes with high heels are even better than super-posh bags: bags do not go click-click-click as you walk along, and do not turn heads in anything like the same way, to announce your arrival. Even the storage problem at home is a positive thing, that says 'this lady puts shoes before most other things in her home'; and a spare room entirely devoted to shoe racks is a status symbol that will crush and silence most other women. As Imelda Marcos knew.
Well, I'm no Imelda Marcos. Strike two against me.
What about the other end of the feminine footwear spectrum? Where's my crocs and my flip-flops? Oh dear, none in the cupboard. I have worn thin-soled ballet pumps, but again my head tells me that these are not good for my feet, and they are impossible to wear on pebble beaches and rocky pathways and any kind of hard ground. I didn't get them out last summer, and they may never get worn again.
Strike three; and I'm out, my feminine credentials in tatters, with very little to throw in that might redeem me. Because I have no illusions about the Dubarry boots: they're nice, and they look quality, but let's face it, most women either haven't heard of them, or associate them with a huntin', shootin' and fishin' country lifestyle as far removed from suburban life as it's possible to get. The epitome of 'county'. Footwear for snobs. And not footwear for glamorous girly girls. I also have pale blue wellies with hens on them, which are cute, but like the Dooberries they have no heel, and no pizzazz, and Jessica Rabbit wouldn't be seen dead in them.
Where does this leave me? Lacking in femininity? Less of a woman? It depends on what you think maketh one. I'm not going to worry.
Boots on: let's get some fresh air.