If the Shoe Fits, Celebrate

Attention Shoe Manufacturers: Middle-aged women have the resources and desire to purchase fashionable, comfortable shoes. Why don't you make any?

I'm attending a conference at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort in Nashville, Tennessee. This resort is so huge that my room is a zip code away from the conference center. I needed to drop little packets of breath mints to trace the way back. Such an ordeal requires shoes that are practical as well as pretty. Good luck with that.

While packing for the trip, I had no problem choosing the outfits, coordinating accessories and making mandatory bags of trail mix to fool myself into thinking I would eat healthy on the trip. (Those little bags have at least 100 chocolate M&M candies.) However, selecting the appropriate shoes gave me heartburn on top of the candy.

The open-toed pair with the three-inch heels looked elegant and classy; the perfect choice for my sophisticated suit. But I knew they were two-hour shoes for a 12-hour workday, and I couldn't tolerate that much pain. My other choice was my favorite Joseph Seibel slip-ons. This comfortable pair could go 18 hours, but the flat, wedged heel was borderline ready for the retirement home. After two minutes of intense contemplation, the heels were returned to the closet. Comfort won.

I've always assumed shoes were made to cover the feet and to help people scamper over rocks, bugs and dog poop. Now we've evolved into this shoe-worshiping cult where women trade the mortgage and their first-born child for a pair of Christian Louboutin red-soled shoes, and doting grandmas buy expensive baby shoes for a new grandbaby who will wear them once and then wonder 18 years later how to pay for college.

And women can't strut away with all the blame. Men are paying $560 for a pair of Gucci high-top sneakers, and Lucchese offers a pair of alligator belly cowboy boots for $10,513. The guy who wears those boots will never come within 100 miles of a real rodeo. And if he did, the true cowboys with manure on their boots and callouses on their hands would throw him into the water trough and barter the boots for beer.

Fancy, high-heeled, pointed-toed shoes are designed for young people who don't walk. They just stand around and look fetching. If I need to change from my fuzzy slippers to anything with a sole, it's because I have places to go. My feet are not pointed, so why should I cram a rectangular foot into a triangle? My small feet do their best to support my mature frame, so why should I teeter on a teeny heel and hope I didn't fall down and roll my ankle? My wine budget cut into my spending money, so why should I pay $300 for two inches of leather that will be out of style in six months?

Insert the best word: As middle-age women (1) age, (2) ripen, (3) no longer give a damn, we have the bold ability to say (1) don't judge my flip-flops, (2) kiss my bunion, (3) the only good stiletto is one used as a weapon. We scoff at the young fashionistas skittering about on six-inch heels, knowing someday they'll end up at the bottom of the stairs with a broken heel and a wounded ego. Been there, done that.

So, it's with a final plea that I implore the shoe industry to cobble some creative, cute and comfy shoes for us. We'll buy them. And if you throw in trail mix with M&Ms, we'll get two pairs.