Bad Shoes & The Women Who Love Them
The results are in, the judges have deliberated, and Seven Stories Press is pleased at last to announce the winners of the BADDEST SHOES CONTEST, celebrating the publication of Leora Tanenbaum’s new book Bad Shoes and the Women Who Love Them. The winners: Maryland’s own An Nguyen, and the power-packed Jyl Riendeau from Los Angeles, CA!
Here is what the judges said about An Nguyen’s winning entry: "The color is arresting and the cut-outs are gorgeous. But is this shoe a stiletto or a wedge? It can’t decide. This shoe has a bad case of schizophrenia. If nothing else, it certainly makes you look twice — and pray that the wearer doesn’t have to walk very far."
And close behind, Jyl Riendeau's shoe caught the judges' attention: "From the front, this shoe looks soft and sweet. But from the side, the exaggerated platform and baroque heel lend a funky vibe—as well as a clue that this shoe is dangerous. It is not meant for walking on uneven surfaces because it is unstable. Let us hope that the wearer is not."
Ms. Nguyen and Ms. Riendeau will each receive not only a signed copy of Bad Shoes and the Women Who Love Them, but also a free pair of distinctly NOT bad shoes from either Thierry Rabotin or NAOT. Thanks to both of them, to our co-sponsor Tip Top Shoes, to our judges Johanna Youner and Desiree Stimpert, to Leora Tanenbaum, and to everyone who participated!
Bad Shoes and the Women Who Love Them is a light-hearted wake-up call to women to make informed decisions when buying and wearing fashionable shoes. Arming the reader with essential facts, citing medical literature as well as leading podiatric surgeons and orthopedists, Tanenbaum covers the history of high heels, Chinese foot binding, the controversy over cosmetic surgery of the foot, and what Freud had to say about women's shoes and sex.
Illustrated by artist Vanessa Davis throughout, Bad Shoes and the Women Who Love Them also includes hilarious anecdotes from women who love shoes. And yes—it is possible to make smart footwear decisions without sacrificing style! Tanenbaum shows you how.
Being dressed to kill shouldn't mean killing your feet! It’s time to liberate ourselves from the tyranny of shoes that hobble our mobility and disfigure our bodies in the name of sexiness. With this book, Leora Tanenbaum shows us how to take the first step.
-Audrey D. Brashich, author of All Made Up: A Girl's Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty
In Leora Tanenbaum's Bad Shoes and the Women Who Love Them, the woman who exposed slut-bashing, cat-fighting, and God-reclaiming takes on women's masochistic relationship with their feet. Run (while you still can) to your nearest bookstore and save your sole.
-Jennifer Baumgardner, author of Look Both Ways and Manifesta
Advocate for women Leora Tanenbaum has written a witty, insightful, highly readable, and frankly shocking exploration of high heels that is a must-read. Tanenbaum urges readers to use common sense and not wear high heels that make us hobble. This lively book makes me want to give my pointy-toed, 4-inch stilettos a new place in my closet: the archives.
-Liz Funk, author of Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls
I want to squeal with delight - someone finally gets it! I have spent twenty years taking care of people's feet in all sorts of states of disrepair. Finally, here is a book that states the simple fact that high heels damage one's foot irreparably. What a waste of the perfectly good feet with which we were born. Snap out of it!
-Johanna Youner, DPM
Smart, fashion-conscious women will be sobered by what they learn in this important and insightful work.
-Amy Sohn, author of Prospect Park West and Run Catch Kiss
I am well aware that women want to look elegant, fashionable and sexy. But they need to become informed consumers and know when the shoe fits. It is never a good option to change your foot to fit the shoe. The result is often mutilation. On the other hand, as the author points out, with so many shoe choices on the market, it is possible to find elegant shoes that do not destroy your feet. Treat your shoes like desert: on occasion it is all right to splurge, but not every day!
-Carol Frey, MD
Q&A with Leora Tanenbaum
Why would a feminist author write about women’s shoes?
Because feet are a feminist issue. Many women routinely wear “bad” shoes in
the name of fashion, but they have no idea that wearing shoes with a
shape that deviates from the shape of their unfettered feet is a recipe for disaster. After all, it’s perfectly fine to squeeze their fanny into tight jeans: the worst that will happen is the sprouting of “muffin tops” above the waistband. A woman can change into a different pair of jeans, the muffin tops will disappear, and she can breathe again. Phew! But shoes are not jeans and feet are not love handles. Feet will mold into the
unnatural shape of high-heeled shoes, becoming ugly and painful. Also, the history of women’s shoes is interesting from a feminist point of view. As I show in the book, prostitutes have been the trendsetters in footwear for many centuries. Ordinary women have often followed the lead of “fallen women” in wearing erotically charged shoes. Today, women’s fashionable shoes tend to resemble pornographic footwear. What are we saying about our identity when we wear shoes that look most appropriate on strippers?
What did you discover during your research that surprised you the most?
I was fascinated by what the psychoanalytic literature has to say about shoes. I have often wondered: why do so many smart women willingly sacrifice their comfort and even their health to look fashionable? I discovered that a shoe can be more than a shoe—it can be a stand-in for something else. For many women, wearing a high-heeled, pointy-toed shoe
represents that she is feminine (since fashionable shoes are sexy, and shoes in many cultures are equated with female genitals) and also, at the same time, masculine (since a high heel is a phallic symbol). High heels are intertwined with our concepts of femininity. Some women are so anxious about their image as feminine that even when they’re in terrific pain, they refuse to ditch their ill-fitting shoes. They go under the knife with
cosmetic foot surgery. Instead of changing their shoes to fit their feet, they change their feet to fit their shoes! As I point out in the book, this horrifying trend is not altogether different from the practice of foot binding.
What do you want women who read this book to come away with?
Ladies, please be judicious with your heels! Let’s not forget that shoes are supposed to be – ahem – functional: they are supposed to allow us to walk safely and comfortably. I’m not telling you to get rid of your heels; I love heels too! Just don’t wear them for long periods of time and definitely don’t do serious walking in them. Wearing a high-heeled, narrow shoe on a regular basis leads to bunions, hammertoes, and corns and calluses. In other words, by wearing something beautiful you are actually, over time, creating ugliness. Save gorgeous shoes for special occasions.
So, tell us about your shoes.
On casual days when I’m wearing jeans, I wear sporty lace-up shoes in black suede with built-in arch support. With them on my feet I can zip around Manhattan in no time. When I’m wearing a skirt, I wear mid-calf leather boots with a one-and-a-half-inch kitten heel. I also have flats and heels (not higher than an inch and half) that accommodate my orthotic inserts. These shoes do not look orthopedic and there’s no way to tell that my orthotics are hiding inside. Anything comfortable that looks good works for me!