Worn out shoes

When I saw the story on the internet about the taped, beat-up looking shoes that Nordstrom’s sells for $530, it brought back a memory of a pair of honest to goodness beat up shoes I wore when I was 10 years old. I’ve worn and worn out a lot of shoes in my life time; the only reason I remember that pair is that I wore them to school on the play day at the end of the year and they fell apart as I ran a three-legged race. I don’t remember if I taped my sneakers after they were torn; I just remember how hard it was to run in cheap, worn-out shoes. And embarrassing, in case anyone noticed.

When I wore my worn out shoes, I wasn’t trying to be cool. I was wearing what I had. Nowadays it isn’t unusual to see people wearing “distressed” or ripped jeans. In my day, it wasn’t trendy or fashionable to pretend your shoes or clothes were well-worn.

It’s funny the things you remember from your childhood – the things that made an impression on your young psyche.

I have other shoe memories. One of the first was of going to school in kindergarten or first grade in a pair of second-hand tap-dance shoes; I wasn’t a dancer, I just needed shoes for school and that’s what my mom bought for me. I remember a pair of oxfords that I wore with my Brownie dress – that was a good memory. I remember the white go go boots I got for Christmas in the 5th grade; I loved them. And I remember the pair of shoes my mom bought at a popular classmate’s family garage sale. I liked the shoes but cringed at the thought that she might recognize her used shoes and say something to embarrass me.

People are understandably disgusted with the $530 beat up shoes because this “fashion” statement is insensitive to people who have no choice but to wear clothes or shoes that are genuinely distressed and worn-out. People who are poor do not get to make fashion choices. They get to choose between food and rent and gas to get to work.

Who is crazy enough to spend $530 for a pair of dirty, taped up sneakers? Evidently, a lot of people – a lot of shallow, self-indulgent people. I know this is a judgmental statement to make. People have a right to spend their money any way they choose – they certainly don’t need my approval. But the choices people make – even about what to wear – says a lot about their values.

I am an accountant. I know $$. Where is the value in spending $530 for a pair of beat-up looking shoes you could buy for $30 or $50 and wear out for real (by walking and running and living in them for goodness sake!)? The value of these shoes – the reason Golden Goose can charge a ridiculous amount of money for ugly shoes – is the value people place on impressing other people.

Your fake worn-out Golden Goose shoes? That don’t impress me much.

When you strip off all the pretense that money can buy, what is left? Our value as human beings is not based on what we wear; our value comes from who we are on the inside. Do we care about other people? Are we kind and patient and forgiving?

We are all born naked into this world, but each of us is fully clothed in potential. – Emmitt Smith

I have misjudged a lot of people in my life. One is the girl who I thought would judge me if I wore her used shoes. As an adult, I’ve gotten to know her (another Cathy) better. She is one of the most empathetic people I know. She has walked a mile in my worn out shoes and I love her for it!


Photo credit: USA Today (link above)






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