Why Aren't Shoes Shaped like Feet?
I was doing some research lately on why shoes aren't the same shape as feet. All right, I just type the question into Google and read the first bunch of pages that came up, but I'm still going to call it research. In any case, this is a question that has been bugging me off and on for perhaps a decade now.
Some things that came up:
So in the end, I now have a new question: Why aren't men's shoes shaped like feet? Unfortunately, Google doesn't know the answer to this one.
- The shape and placement of foot bones is somewhat malleable, at least until adulthood. This leads to people being concerned about children's shoes deforming their feet. There is usually an allusion to Chinese foot-binding, which worked on the same principle.
- Women often buy shoes based on fashion, not practicality. The theory seems to be that feet are naturally ugly but the right shoes will make them look sexy instead (an odd choice of adjective, but used consistently). A while ago I would have dismissed this as nonsense, since I don't normally notice women's shoes, nor does any other man know. However, I have since learned that this sort of thing makes women feel confident about themselves, and confidence is noticeable. So it makes sense after all.
- Related, some women's shoes (notably high heels) affect how they walk. The muscle movements needed to essentially walk on tip-toes apparently pulls their legs into a more attractive shape. I don't notice this myself (except maybe subconsciously), but I have seen a lot of references to men thinking about women's legs. So I assume that I am the odd am out here (I have trouble with beauty in general), and that the shoes make sense.
- There were pointy, upper-class shoes in the Middle Ages. I assumed that this is on the general principle of doing inconvenient things for no good reason as a sign of wealth. After all, status symbols have to be things that poor people can't do/have, of they just get copied and stop working.
- It seems that for a while shoes for left and right feet were the same. Distinct pairs appeared around 1880. I am not sure if they were the same when they were made by hand, or if that detail was lost in early automation. The upside would be that you could replace only the broken one, but the human foot is far from symmetrical, especially if you want pointy.
- You can get genuine foot-shaped shoes (which also tend to have individual toe-holes). Unfortunately, I live in Saskatchewan and go out in the winter (it was -20 yesterday), and they do not look warm. Similarly, you can alter the shape of an existing shoe by cutting flaps (and adding padding), but your shoes wouldn't be warm and waterproof after.
I got the following useful response:
Men's shoes are also influenced by fashion, though maybe the goal is something like "professional" rather than "sexy". I think this is related to why most shoes have laces instead of more convenient velcro or elastics.
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