Friday, August 18, 2006

The Height of Fashion in America

I've said it before, but I find myself needing to say it again: I never realized the power of the high heel until I went to Ukraine because I so rarely saw a high heel on the foot of an American woman. In America, even Los Angeles, home of The Beautiful People, the height of fashion is approximately one-quarter of an inch and as soft as a firm sponge. I speak of the thong, of course. Or to avoid confusion, the flip-flop.

I was reminded of this on Wednesday, when I ran some errands on the USC campus. It was move-in day for all the incoming students, so there were thousands of young boys and girls running around, either slouching back and forth between their dorm room and daddy's SUV or dashing off to buy a cell-phone or a half-cafe latte. Early in the afternoon, I came upon a column of young women maybe thirty souls long, and that’s when it hit me full-force: this is a nation of flip-floppers. Be you Republican or Democrat, registered voter or non, this is a nation that dons the thong.

They passed before me like an army going off to war, the sound of their march punctuated by the slapping of their footwear. It might as well have been the final stamp on my passport, for as I continued toward the far end of the street, walking perpendicular to the column of young girls, I remembered the sounds of another country. There was the busy clatter of women walking all around in heels, the quick hurried clicking of a Ukrainian woman dashing across the street, and then the haunted sound of a single woman walking behind you in the dark. Click, click. Click, click.

Freud understood the power of the high-heel. He believed the foot to be a phallus and the shoe the representation of the female sex organ. By placing your foot in a high heel, you were completing a sexual act. Freud, of course, is largely ignored today, his theories discredited. But I’d still like to know what he’d make of the flip-flop. And even if he were on all that cocaine, I don’t think it’d turn him on.

I once heard a non-Freudian say that the shoes are constructed in such a way to hold the woman's feet in the position reached at climax. And the flip-flop?

Why is that every chick-lit book has a high heel on the cover, when its reader is, eight or nine times out of ten, flat-footed?

I remember seeing flip-flops only once in Ukraine, when I passed a store window on Sumskaya Street. They were lined up, maybe four or five of them, designer flip-flops with an advertised price that was half a pensioner’s monthly take – about $40. No one was buying.


Anonymous said...

if you visit Crimea durring teh summer vactaion you will see the all cheap flip-flop durring teh day on teh beach. But at night the all peircing 100mm high heel weapons are put. They are the symbol saying of I am here and if need be I can walk all over you as they prominade along the coastal town broad walk.

I recently visited a nude beach resort in eastern crimea and it was strange the women were naked except for the mobile phone and high heals.

Anonymous said...

I often hear the click click click of what I refer to a "loud speaking shoes" they are a bit like the mating call of an exotic bird . They say purfume is the attraction. Man adapts to the surrounds of his environment and sound of the right steps are up there. Hey I like the sound of your walk... what you doing tonight"