about writing and life and God

Do shoes matter?

on February 6, 2013

I am not Imelda Marcos. But I do like pretty shoes.

Digital Image

I hasten to add, the picture above is a composite and no part of it belongs to me! The feet and legs belong to one friend; the beautiful shoes to another. And they are such beautiful shoes.

I was once hopping on to a train with an author I was taking to lunch. (You can tell this is an old story. I don’t think publishers lunch their authors these days — so much.) As we sat down opposite each other, he said, ‘You can tell a lot about someone by their shoes.’

I hastily looked down at mine. I was wearing my favourite dark red snakeskin heels.

‘Yes,’ he laughed, somewhat nastily. ‘You can tell exactly what a woman thinks about herself by the shoes she wears.’

Too personal, I decided, and didn’t dare ask the obvious question.

The truth is — and this shows just how shallow I really am — I feel much better wearing heels. Yesterday I went out in favourite (i.e. flattering) denim jeans and high-heeled soft-leather brown boots. And I felt great all day. I seemed to walk taller, with more confidence. I felt more alive, and competent, and… me.

Nowadays my idea of high heels is rather different from the days of my youth when I managed to hurtle round London in really spiky heels. My heyday was the era of power-dressing, sharp suits and heels to match!

At church on Sunday, a glint of light caught my eye for a moment — the sun catching the gorgeous red heels of a classic Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) pair of shoes worn by one of our singers. And my shallow self instantly coveted. Then again, my name’s Dorothy — maybe I should permit myself a pair of red heels.

So yesterday, when my friend brought the beautiful violet satin shoes for my other friend to try on (she has a special occasion coming up and we’re trying to help her decide on colours for her outfit), I was reminded of the Dorothy red shoes, my own wine snakeskin heels — and thought maybe it’s time (when spring finally arrives) to rejuvenate my wardrobe and myself with a pair of beautiful shoes.

Is this trivial? Does footwear matter?

I recall Moses being told to take his sandals off because he was standing on holy ground. And I recall Jesus washing His disciples’ feet – such a tender act of care. So I think feet do matter.

We’re taught our bodies are God’s temple. Maybe we’re meant to treat them nice. And if for me, nice includes pretty shoes, maybe I’ll allow myself some window-shopping on tomorrow’s outing!

Here’s a poem I wrote for my husband who died in 1994:


I have said Kaddish for you

too long. Years

rolling into years,

and grief too heavy,

like a mantle,

keeping out the light.


it’s time to throw

it back.

Like a Muslim woman

stepping out of her veil and mask,

and long dark Arab coat,

revealing the bright colours underneath.

When Andrew died, I went into traditional black. My friends worried that I wore it for so long, so I told them that when I felt better I would buy a red dress. I haven’t yet. But maybe it’s time for some red shoes?

*Kaddish: the Jewish prayers for the dead

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3 responses to “Do shoes matter?

  1. I couldn’t carry off a pair of elegant high heels if you paid me. In fact, if I tried to walk in a pair, I’d probably have to be carried off somewhere myself. I envy you.

  2. Sorry, just remembered this is a Christian blog. I don’t mean ‘envy’ of course. I mean ‘I feel really pleased for you’. (Oops.)

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