The Natural History of the Platform Shoe


by E.UVA


Although in our youth we celebrate what we like, we also spend a fair amount of energy bashing what we find distasteful. We go through a natural selection of ideas, as we weed out the things that do not merit additional ATP and neural pathways. Then as we mature, we cultivate our passions and devote energies accordingly. Of course, one man’s poison is another woman’s meat. With sense grows sensibility, and we don’t wish to offend anyone by knocking the themes and habits that reign supreme in some other soul.

          Nevertheless, I occasionally take a perverse pleasure in being critical of the flora that neighbouring minds nurture. Since it’s unlikely that any of them will be reading this piece, their feelings will be spared.

          An infectious idea is that if “everyone” is wearing some shoe-type, then it must be worth purchasing. Currently that shoe-type is the platform shoe. It came into being when the handyman of a fashion trendsetter left a couple of sawed-off, glue-covered two-by-fours lying around. Upon seeing them stuck to her soles, the trendsetter experienced a tour de force, the kind that elated Mendeleev when he realized that there was a connection between atomic masses and chemical properties. The rest became shoe history. Soon stores were filled with platform running shoes, platform sandals, and platform panty hose.

          With the right timing, mediocre ideas can become fantastically popular and profitable. This is because we are biologically designed to copycat; the survival of our species depends on imitation. And fashion extremes aside, most of what we mimic is worth doing. Losing touch with cultural history would be fatal. No isolated group of people, regardless of creative potential, could reinvent the past over the course of even several generations. Nor would they get too far establishing a totally new future.

Unfortunately, the mechanism that saves societies is also why women are stuck wearing silly, uncomfortable shoes. Besides, if one woman refuses to ride the wave of platform fashion, she resigns herself to being shorter than everyone else.