Shoes for thought

The type of shoes that you favour could reveal more about your personality, and your sexual preferences, than originally thought, but as a school of thought, it’s not one to which I particularly subscribe. Valerie Steele, author of “Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power” and director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, believes that we are all fetishists, at least on some level, and that shoes are an important fetish indicator.

Steele says that there are 4 levels of fetishism, and that most people are around level one and two, which are, she says, completely normative, it’s the third and fourth levels that you have to watch out for, as they are indicative of an obsession. After researching various fetish, pornographic and high fashion magazines, Steele established, not surprisingly, that the stiletto is the most sexualised footwear item, followed by boots.

Stilettos are importantly fetishly speaking because they serve a dual purpose, they can depict women as both helpless feminine objects and as powerful dominatrix-types. Steele says that ladies in high heels can’t run away and as such as under a form of patriarchal control. She must not have seen either of the Bridget Jones’ Diary movies, because if she had, she would have seen a clear example of a woman running virtual marathons in high heels, and running pretty well. The point is taken, however, as many proper fetish heels are extremely high and impossible to stand in let alone run around in. (The heel is also supposed to represent some kind of weapon, which is a blog post for another day.)

9-inch fetish heels

9-inch fetish heels

Other shoes with significant fetish value are boots and sandals. Boots worn by men are considered to be phallic, at least according to followers of Freud. This little tidbit of information was news to me. It never occurred to me that men in boots were trying to compensate for something. Sandals are strongly sexual because they reveal a great deal of foot flesh, i.e. the foot is naked. The foot is supposed to be related to all sorts of things sexual, so I suppose it isn’t much of a stretch for men to find naked feet nearly as exciting as naked everything else. And men are more strongly disposed to fetishism of any kind than women. (By the way, gladiator sandals symbolize feet in bondage, so beware the message you’re sending to men’s subconscious when stepping out in them.)

Gladiator foot bondage

Gladiator foot bondage

Are you going to pay any more attention to the type of shoes you buy from now on? I’m not, but I live mostly in sneakers and according to Steele they’re the most asexual shoes on the market. Not that that says anything about me at all.

Plain old sneakers

Plain old sneakers

Sneakers with a hidden message?

Sneakers with a hidden message?


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