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September 25, 2008


It's confidence in themselves as women, and as individuals.
Yep. I wish more Anglo women would get that.

Gorgeous shoe, Beth! I can't wear such high heels, sigh. I've heard that about the French women. Here in Vancouver, most people are so very casual unless they work in banking and real estate. I find that when I do dress up for a rare special occasion, I'm not as comfortable as I'd wish. I grew up in dresses and skirts, even in high school we were not allowed to wear pants. Now I live in them! I wonder if living in pants so much makes us less feminine? It's how you carry it, I think. Like you, I used to sew but started to find fewer and fewer fabric shops, plus less time or energy for it.

I'm surprised to see you mention comfortable in the same post as these shoes. To me they look like they would hurt.
It has always been a genuine puzzle to me why women choose to wear something that makes them wobble when they walk, hurts their feet and back (sometime chronically) and leaves them incapable of walking far or fast. In every situation I can think of this type of shoes are a disadvantage.

Maybe some people find tilted hips, breasts thrust forward, pointed toes, and arched backs sexy. Myself, I only see another way to limit womens' freedom of movement........

Sewing is a great creative activity- we should all create more! This fall I hope to find time to break out some long sequestered projects and maybe even finish some.

Really sexy. I'm not the kind that use those but in some women give them some special touch. I'm not talking about fashion... more in the way you did.


Me too, Dave.

Marja-Leena, a major reason I stopped sewing was that the good fabric stores started going out of business - women could buy cheap imported clothes for so little, they figured, why sew? and younger women hadn't learned how. For a while I bought cloth by mail-order, and then my own life got too busy too. Your point about pants is something I've wondered too, especially in America, where women live in pants and jeans, especially outside of the major cities. Like you, I grew up in skirts and dresses, and I still like to wear them but until I moved to the city, I only dressed up for business meetings and church. Northern winter weather, of course, is another factor!!

But my main point is that many women, especially in America, seem to choose comfort to an extreme that is sloppy and dumpy and does nothing but reinforce a negative self-image. They hide bodies they're ashamed of in baggy clothing. Being around French women and Latin women of all different shapes and sizes has been a revelation to me: the way they move, talk, and dress exudes a comfort with themselves that seems so much healthier.

EJ: thanks for the comment, I was hoping someone would bring that up! I agree with you, to a large extent. I can't wear high heels for more than an hour or two anyway, and would never recommend that women wear anything that hurts their body on a regular basis. I have problems with both my feet and my toenails anyway and have to take good care of them (watch, I'll probably twist my ankle the first time I wear these!) which means wearing reasonable footwear: I spend most of my life in Birkenstock-like sandals. But I don't agree that heels are necessarily "imposed" on women by a male notion of sexiness, or by advertising - not anymore, when so many other forms of dressing are perfectly OK. I think some/most women wear high heels by their own choice, for the same reasons they wear skirts and nice lingerie - it makes them feel feminine and attractive. For me, it's an occasional thing. I had two pairs of old tight heels that really hurt and I stopped wearing them years ago; now I have two newer pairs that feel a lot better, but believe me, I'll only be wearing them for parties or occasional events, and not walking far!

Gabby, thanks for writing. In Argentina, how do women dress now? I'm glad you connected with what I was trying to express here.

Very interesting post, Beth. I was at a rummage sale in a church a few years ago, looking through the shoes. A woman dressed in ways that made the eyes pop lifted out a pair of gorgeous expensive high-heeled shoes with stiletto heels and toes that could kill, in a lovely soft leather with just enough ornamentation to be tasteful. She said: They're your size; get 'em. Even if you only wear them sitting down.

I laughed with her, and still laugh when I think of this [very attractive, "imperfect"] woman of about 65, and how she recognized the allure and the quality, noticed my own style, and also that I might appreciate them with her without necessarily ever putting them on my feet.


Well, I know where you're coming from and I find these shoes very nice to look at and can see from your lovely photo that they'd be just as nice to touch. But I would never, never wear such things even for a few minutes. Myself, I'd be in instant discomfort and at severe risk of falling over. I don't like the way they look on other women, either: that stiff, thrust- forward tilt that they give to the body I find the opposite of alluring, the opposite of the naked body's natural curves and movement. But hey, there are quite enough more important things to beat ourselves and each other up about, and these are lovely objects!

What glorious shoes, Beth! They'll look smashing on you. I'm out of the habit of wearing heels -- it's at least fifteen years since I knew how to walk in them -- but I admire the way you're approaching them...and fashion, and embodiment, and age. Brava.

How do women dress in argentina? Well, I'm not a specialist myself, I'm a lesb kinda tomboy, so you can imagine! :DD

There is a mix, you can find a bit of everything.

What I'm more intersted in how we could play with our roles, how to look good and selfconfidence in jeans or troussers for a lesbo woman can be.

I mean: not to tend to invibilize your body in big t-shirts and let your body be enjoying being who you are.

I hope you can get my point :)

As a non-heel-wearing "French" woman (with wide feet, bleh), I salute your courage. And I loooove the color!

Oh, beth, what gorgeous shoes. And how brave you are! Mon dieu!

I'm thinking of resurrecting my sewing machine, not for major projects but because I definitely have some alterations to do, and I know how to do them -- why pay someone else? Agree that fabric stores have become terrible here (though I understand there are some great ones in the Bay Area if you know where to look).

Teresa, what a great story! Thanks for telling it here. I wonder what happened to those shoes?

Jean - I hear you. And this may well be a short-lived experiment, though I've always enjoyed wearing heels once in a while. As a kid I used to practice walking up and down our long hallway, in heels borrowed from my mother's closet with a book on my head - that's how I learned to walk in them. Can you imagine? What was this bookish girl doing?

Rachel, the other day we saw a woman in the city running uphill in high heels - it was amazing! Never, never - I'd maim myself. These shoes are for sitting in and short-distance walking. Living room to kitchen. That sort of thing!

Gabby, thanks for the further comment. It sounds like we're coming at this discussion from a similar place.

Martine, thanks - well, we'll see how brave I am, and how graceful (or not!)

Pica, I still have some uncut silk I bought in a fabric store in San Francisco's Chinatown - it was huge and had bolts and bolts of the most gorgeous fabric. Good for you for getting out your machine. If I ever got back into sewing I'd buy a serger as well; they were just becoming mainstream when I stopped sewing.

Beth, I have sent your text to my sisters, daughter and nieces for the insight about confidence as women. Thanks.

FABULOUS Beth! You wear them with confidence! OK, they're not practical, a little uncomfortable over a long period of time, are imbued with notions of sex-wars... but they're FUN and make you smile, feel a little daring and giddy. God, in these depressing times you've got to live a little, right?

Anna has hit the nail on the head... lots of fun and a wonderful distraction.

Well I think they're beautiful and you'll look and I hope feel a million dollars in them. I'm with Anna.

I well remember a party where a friend and I were admiring the African/Caribbean women present - such class, poise, grace, daring and self-confidence in such a wide range of body-shapes and styles.

Your final para is a message I could do well to take to heart.

What I truly love about how women dress in Montreal is how it isn't about fashion, or at least not foremost. It's about a feeling--a strong sense of self, an internal aesthetic to join the external. It's of bodies--all sorts of bodies--in motion.

I don't often wear high heels, I walk lots and they're not suitable. But on occasions I do, I find them wonderfully beautiful on my foot, and I like how they make me stand, how tall I am in them. I find them fanciful, and find myself more fanciful as a result. And then there's that most wonderful of moments when you walk through your own front door, and kick them off, and take off your earrings, and yet you feel uniquely glamorous nonetheless.

These are lovely, Beth.

Men dress beautifully here also, incidentally.

It is interesting that you title your blog "Why not?". For International Women's Year in 1975 the federal governement in Canada produced, along with many other programs, buttons with "Why not?" or "Pourquoi pas?". The aim was to work against prejudices that kept women from achieving their goals, or even having goals. Now it seems to have come full circle, where we must claim not only the right to work, but also the right to a little pleasure - to create ourselves as individuals. It is not for nothing that the demand for "bread and roses" has rung out through a century and a half of the women's movement.

Interesting comment, S. I wonder if you could elaborate - what factors have made it so that you feel it's hard (harder now?) to create ourselves as individuals?

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