The Search for a Perfect Sole

by Bonnie J. Burton

Our early ancestors made shoes long before they decided to make records of their daily activities and thoughts. Shoes are so important in our lives that we bestow them with magic powers in stories and mythic legends. The winged sandals of Hermes, the glass slipper in Cinderella, the glittery red shoes in Wizard of Oz all immortalize our belief in what a good pair of shoes can do for our souls. (Pun intended).

I never understood the symbolism behind a wild pair of shoes until I stepped into my first pair of platforms.

Yuk! Not platforms? Not those thick-soled-big-heeled-attempt-at-retrieving-a-decade-you-were-too-young-to-even-remember shoes? Yep, I am a platform shoe crusader, bringing the gospel of shoes that will make you the Queenie of the ball and able to see every bald spot in the room.

But I wasn't so quickly won over by the world of disco-dancing stylin' steppers. I thought platforms were only worn by those kids still stuck in the world of Saturday Night Fever. Gothic girl down to my angst-ridden heart, the desire never surfaced to parade my feet around in big plastic pink shoes or God-forbid the shiny white platforms my mother wore underneath her wedding dress. I listened to Skinny Puppy, not ABBA.

Then it happened. I made a small, but significant step into platform paradise. I bought my first pair of platform Creepers. They were black and appeared to resemble the typical shoes I trudged through life wearing, only one major difference--three inches of rubber sole and plenty of snickering from my friends. I loved it!

I soon found others who shared my passion for never feeling the ground but always feeling the side-glances.

"There's a definite attitude I find myself assuming when I put them on. My biggest pair lift me about 6-7 inches higher, and this makes me taller than most men I hang out with," says Rachel E. Pollock, a dance club DJ from Tennessee.

"The last time I wore platforms was to a Lords of Acid concert, where I also wore a long wig," Rachel says. "Several people in the crowd assumed I was part of the band and they used my shoes as an excuse to talk to me."

Sure, platforms let loose the RuPaul inside all of us, but some find platforms practical.

"A designer can do more with a platform shoe than with some little thing with a paper-thin sole. They're practical," says Claes Jonasson Ames, a video producer from Iowa. "The platform keeps you from feeling every piece of gravel you step on. Similarly, you can walk through wet grass or on a wet street and not get your feet soaked."

But as the born-again platform children see the light, others would rather stand in the dark with wet feet.

Kim McCleskey, an Internet instructor from Colorado, hates platforms because of a childhood accident that left her mentally scarred.

"I think my disgust with platforms began at the age of six when I wore a pair of Famolares, a sandal with a 2-3" sole. I was walking along the edge of the sidewalk and all of a sudden the side of my foot slipped off the curb and I fell into the gutter," Kim says. (Nonetheless, she consented to model the platforms shown in the accompanying photos.)

As a child, Kim felt the shoes were anything but practical because "they made it impossible to run away from the neighborhood bullies.

"Ever since then I find platforms completely repulsive and I mock the people who wear them."

Even with the risk of twisted ankles and defenseless battles, I remain a platform shoe lover. I have enough blisters and scars on my feet to prove I'll stay in this abusive relationship until I'm buried in the most obnoxious pair I own.

The lure of platforms not only attracts co-dependent shoe sirens like myself, but many men who would gladly lick our heels on command.

Frequent news group contributor, By Your Feet, remembers being attracted to women wearing platforms as early as grade school.

"I remember when all the students would sit on the floor in front of our teacher. She's be reading a story for us while sitting on a chair with her legs crossed. Her platformed foot was high in the air from where the rest of us were sitting. Sometimes her foot would almost be over a student's lap," By Your Feet says. "Although I didn't know why at the time, I was very aroused."

Dr. Antonio Damasio knows why this shoe fetish was aroused during storytelling hour. In his book, Decartes' Error, Damasio explains that young boys may displace their sexual signals to feet and shoes to avoid starting with genitalia. When boys reach puberty some of them do not know what to do when they experience their first erection. They may have been taught that women's genitalia are not to be touched so they focus on the feet and shoes.

Now I know how women who have men starring at their chests must feel--except for me it's a lot cheaper to get bigger shoes.

If I've discovered anything from this experience, it's that you either love platforms completely or you dream of throwing a pair on a burning pile of disco records. Either way, platform shoes draw out intense emotions in everyone with a sole.

"The Search for a Perfect Sole" copyright 1995 by Bonnie J. Burton. All rights reserved.
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