First, you have to read this, specifically the 10/26/2006 and the 10/20/2006 posts, and including the comments. Go ahead, I'll wait.
A couple of my favorite bits from the 10/20 post:
"But in the hierarchy of importance, pretty stands several rungs down from happy, is way below healthy, and if done as a penance, or an obligation, can be so far away from independent that you may have to squint really hard to see it in the haze."
"Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked 'female'."
From the comments on the 10/26 post: "Ah, dresses with sneakers. Why is it that we can't wear a dress *and* have comfortable feet? ... Excuse the rambling, but WHY must we choose between the two, or risk being labeled 'What Not to Wear'?"
I'm with that commenter 100%. After a moment's thought I came up with this: if we "we leave our comfortable and pretty dresses behind because we need to wear sneakers" (and every one of us has done that at one time or another; I'm not picking on the commenter) we are buying into that horrible cultural imperative that we Must Be Pretty. We need to be brave enough and confident enough and sure enough and value comfort enough to say NO to it and wear our sneakers or whatever makes us feel good.
To paraphrase Arlo Guthrie (I'm dating myself here), if one person does it they'll think she's crazy and avoid her. And if two people do it, they'll think they're both crazy and avoid them. But if three (or 30 or 300) people do it, they'll think it's a movement -- the Be Comfortable Movement, the I Want to Walk movement. And we will all win.
I think the first step is to refuse to buy those silly shoes that cramp our feet and destroy our knees and ruin our lower backs. The second step is to only buy shoes in which you can easily walk a mile without pain. It's okay if they are stylish and pretty and colorful, it's okay if they are clunky and ugly and dumb-looking. The important thing is that you can walk in them. Um, that's what feet are for. Duh.
My first criterion when shopping for a chair or sofa or a bed is that it be comfortable. I apply the same criterion to shoes. Any shoe that keeps me from being able to walk as much as I might if I were in different shoes is, in my opinion, closely akin to the practice of footbinding that we Westerners so deplored in the Chinese of previous centuries. It is degrading and ignoble and disgusting. I choose not pay money to be degraded.
It may be easier for me to be so dogmatic about this subject because I've never been a fan of girly shoes, or really, of girly anything. So shoes whose sole object is to make the wearer look sexy/alluring/available are, imnsho, abominations. The person who designed them and the manufacturer who made them and the retailer who sold them and the woman who bought them all deserve each other; I just wish the first three could all be as crippled as the last one. Why should she have all the fun? ;-) (By the way, sexy/alluring/available can all be conveyed in ways that do not cripple. Or degrade. Just sayin'.)
[descending from soapbox]
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On the knitting scene, I finished Matthew's black and white scarf tonight and steamed it lightly to make the tubular knit lie flat. He has been informed that I want a picture of him modeling it with his black jacket in natural light; that may not happen for a few days since I'm going out of town for the weekend and I don't know if we can coordinate a photo shoot tomorrow. The scarf is long enough to go all the way around his neck and still have l-o-n-g tails hanging down. If I were a teenage girl who saw him wearing it I'd probably try to coerce him to give it to me, I like it that much. He seems to like it, too -- he's asked me repeatedly for the past week, though gently and tactfully, when it will be ready for him to wear. Tomorrow is the day.