Women love shoes. From a very young age, they are bred to be particularly observant of what everyone wears on their feet. I am convinced that a woman can infer everything about you—from your work ethic, to your hobbies, to who you went to prom with—based solely on your shoes.
But that is nothing new. What is new, to me, is the growing competition among boys, not over bicep sizes and height, but over…….shoes.
I work as an aid in a middle school, and one of my classes contains only three boys. Every Monday they respond to a journal prompt asking what they did over the weekend. At least a quarter of the time one of them talks passionately about how he bought a new pair of Nikes, Lebrons (heaven help us), or Jordans that weekend.
In fact, one of the boys makes a decent amount of money mowing lawns, and blows nearly all of it on premium quality shoes! At one point, the boy tragically got a dirt stain on one of his precious Nikes and spent half the class scrubbing desperately to get it off.
Another time, all three boys came in with new pairs of shoes—all a different color. Almost all they did that day was argue over whose pair was the most impressive.
Now, I cannot identify with this shoe-obsession whatsoever. Of course, being a grown man, I now keep an eye on what I wear on my feet because, as I said, women are keeping two eyes on it. As a boy, however, I couldn’t care less about what I wore. Nor do I remember any of my male peers caring about it back then either.
I used to, let’s just say, get full use out of my shoes. I only owned one or two pairs at any given time, and I paid absolutely no attention to their maintenance or well being. About once a year I would grudgingly go buy a new pair because the old pair was completely worn out or too small. Shoe shopping for me was basically grabbing the first Nike off the shelf and leaving. I never talked about or compared my shoes with other guys, and I never, EVER, noticed what anybody else was wearing on their feet.
Now, maybe I was an abnormality, but, like I said, I don’t remember any of the other guys caring about shoes then either. So what has happened in the last ten years?
I think it might have something to do with our culture becoming less judgemental. When I was in school, a boy talking about shoes would probably have been made fun of. Today, greater tolerance has pervaded our society and people seem more comfortable in their own shoes (pun intended). For example, I see middle school aged boys wearing pink shirts all the time—something that was totally unheard of when I was that age.
Some might argue that this tolerance is excessive and that the gender lines are becoming too blurred. I have even heard people complain that men are becoming too feminine, but these are topics for another day.
All in all, although I do not fully understand the phenomenon of today’s boys comparing their shoes, I have to admit that they have one distinct advantage—they’ll be better prepared to meet womens’ strict specifications for a man’s foot when they get older.