Thursday, 28 February 2013

What does a shoe really mean?

Because I am a model and I work in the fashion industry, much of my social networking site news feeds are regularly updated with news of Fashion Weeks, new campaigns, models,  exciting collaborations, discovering up and coming talents while celebrating and respecting the older and established ones. And many of these updates come from people I class as my friends. I often think back to when I started modelling - oh, how much has changed in these three years. It's be fair to say that my entire life has been altered. But I think that's a good subject for another post entirely.

I began modelling absolutely unaware that I was about to meet some pretty wonderful human beings, and that at some point these incredible souls would stop being 'just another model/ make up artist/photographer/stylist/etc' that I worked with that one time, and they would become someone I adored to spend time with. People I travel and share my life with. This is not to say that there are no absolute egotistical and arrogant beings too - of course there are. People become successful and make more money than they require, they become accustomed to a life of champagne and stars and first class travel and the rest is an alternative world to them. I doubt they realize it - so it's unfair to hold it against them. But for so many reasons, it's sad, that it happens.

I was prompted to write this relatively early post (it's 9.20am) as I scrolled down my Facebook news feed to find an update from one of the above industry professionals. I love a good meaningful and empowering quote or extract of writing as much as the next person. In fact, much of my writing is often influenced by a message or extract from words and stories I've read or seen or come across. I like these said 'quotes' because they connect us with something/someone bigger than ourselves. Words are extremely powerful and if we find words that we connect with, it's important that we keep hold of them. They speak volumes about who we are as people.

However, there seems to be an increasing amount of updates from people often immersed in the fashion lifestyle who share such 'words of wisdom'. I try to understand the influence of these words and the meaning of them but truthfully, sometimes it just reminds me that as much as there are many wonderful things about beauty and fashion - the art, creativity and expression, tentative (and often bold) experiments of new ideas. The eccentricity, and the attempts to convey a rather troubled world in a way that reminds us that beauty is still very much all around us. I like all of those things. However, I wonder what this quote that I just came across actually means... Surely it must mean more than I interpreted:

'The real proof of an elegant woman is what is on her feet.'

Is this really, honestly, the real proof of an elegant woman? Do we really judge a woman by the shoes she wears on her feet? If so, I dread to think of the values and attitudes society projects on us now. We wonder where our impossible, and sometimes entirely irrational expectations come from. A notion that places so much value and judgement on appearances that the essence of who we are can be entirely lost. It is not just a shoe, it's a woman's choice of clothing, her make-up, her hair, her job, car, 'perfect' 2.5 children and handsome husband at home, her body, her weight.. All these factors help contribute to a person's externally perceived appearance and create a 'picture' of how she can be viewed and therefore judged by those she presents herself to. So, it is no longer about a pair of shoes which represent her elegance, but it's about how a person chooses to present herself to the world and how the people in her world respond to this. It's food for thought. I just don't like this idea at all. It seems highly superficial that we should only think of a woman as elegant if she has a beautiful pair of Louboutins on her feet.

It should be pointed out, that to me, elegance is beautiful. And actually, Louboutins are incredibly uncomfortable and my feet are scarred from wearing them on jobs - there's no beauty in that!
Elegance is an exquisite quality that combines polar opposite characteristic qualities and abilities in a beautiful way. It means delicate strength, dignified and humble confidence, and a way of being that is naturally graceful and simple, yet all of this is carried in such an effortless and authentic manner. It is carried always - when that person wears sandals on the beach, ski boots in the snow, slippers indoors, and yes, if and when she wears the new season Jimmy Choo's.

I think that this suggests strength of a person, not strength of the pair shoes they wear on their feet.
So, happy Thursday morning. Although this may seem an odd concept to write about on a Mid-week morning while I drink my coffee, I thought it was an important one to consider, and one that's been running through my mind for a while. This update was posted by the Vogue UK Facebook page, by the way.


  1. I know this was posted by the fashion industry but it may have originally meant something else? For me, this can refer to someone's entire life or journey they have taken. Any journey must start with a single step, so I guess your feet play an important role in that. They are, in a metaphorical sense, the start of new experiences. This quotation may not even refer to a pair of shoes, but maybe her entire life.. x

    1. it was said by a designer - and in the context, I think it's meaning is as it says. Although you may be right! :)