Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wanted: The Right Shoe (Literally)

I got a little note from eBay UK last week, letting me know the "Cinderella status" of their website.

While I wasn't surprised to hear just how many products were tagged "Cinderella" (over 66,800 - "from tutu-style dresses to blonde wigs") and how many Prince Charming costumes they had sold in the past three months alone (over 1,000) or that somehow over 550 glass slippers have sold in the same time period (no reports on whether they actually fit or not), I was surprised to hear this:

eBay is drowning in shoes, specifically right shoes. They have over 4,100 right shoes available for sale but only 260 left shoes available*, and yep, you guessed it - they don't match.

What the...??

I have visions of people scrolling and clicking through hundreds of eBay pages looking for just the right shoe, or just the right size... and a lot of bare right feet on the part of the customers.

Is that a scientifically provable thing? That you're more likely to lose a right shoe than a left one? And what are people thinking in putting up single shoes for sale? Is there a market for this? (And what are people doing that they have all these right shoes to sell in the first place?!**)

And if you put in the search parameters "just the right shoe" you end up with a host of very fancy right shoe collectibles and displays. Who knew this was a thing?

It also makes you wonder about where a Fairy Godmother might "borrow her magic" from these days. eBay UK thinks she might be going incognito online, or people are being too impatient to wait for her to show up and taking matters into their own hands. This was the publicist's introduction:
As Cinderella hits the silver screen it appears that those who can’t find a Fairy Godmother of their own are flocking to online marketplace instead.
It's a different take on Cinderella I never considered, but clearly it's a more common "modern variant" than I could ever have imagined.

Someone is going to have to do a study of some sort - and soon.

My brain goes right from this to the whole concept of shoes being meant for individuals and reflecting their owners. This is actually something they've forensically proven. Shoes worn over time come to take the 'imprint" of the wearer and become unique as a result. It's even possible to identify which shoes belonged to which individual by way of looking at the wear, how the sole and heel were worn down, what the internal shape of the shoe ended up being, even in shoes that were fairly solid.

Shoe manufacturers and designers have known for centuries that shoes tell stories (and some evidence points to over 5,000 years of this). Shoes have something to say, both about where and why they were made, but, more interestingly to me, about the individual wearer and owner.

(If this subject fascinates you, take a look at this article HERE about vintage shoes found concealed in a wall and the history of such a practice. It wasn't the article I was looking for to reference but it will start you on a treasure hunt if you as so inclined!)

Shoes in fairy tales are fascinating too and there are many, many examples that immediately come to mind: The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Red Shoes, The Cobbler and the Elves, Puss In Boots, The Seven League Boots, The Girl In The Iron Shoes, just to start, and there are whole books on that subject as well.

Take a look at this journal entry from a gifted writer who passed too early:
"Suum Cuique," said Cicero, translating as "To Each His Own." And that is the way with this shoe, designed by his countrywoman Miuccia Prada.
To me this object is as astonishing as anything in nature, so clever in its mixing of color and so sensually pleasing in its juxtaposition of materials, and all pulled together in a mind bogglingly inventive way.
Look at the sleek wet scarlet slick of the top and the ancient Grinling Gibbons curls on the heel. All that gilt and heft on the bottom decorated with tender vines carved with the “loose and airy lightness of flowers.” And then buckled up on top with the little belt that kept Red Riding Hood’s picnic basket with grandma’s gift of wine inside closed up safe and snug.
After I first saw this fashion photo in Vogue magazine I couldn’t get it out of my head for a month. Then I encountered the same image on a smart, stylish woman’s blog, where the shoe was being completely dismissed and utterly ridiculed. The cost! The height! The vulgarity!
One can think of what a shoe will set you back, I suppose, but I prefer to think of all the places one can take you, as Eugene Field did in his nursery rhyme:
“Wynken, Blynken and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe -
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew… “
So now you see as I do. Or not. Suum cuique, then, but you know I’ll have an excellent view of any standing-room rock and roll stage come fall.
Theresa Duncan, Wit of the Staircase, July 10, 2006 
What we've done to the Cinderella story in the West (in particular) by changing her shoe to glass has changed the emphasis of the story overall, something which I was interested to see explored to some extent in the new Cinderella movie, by the way (more on this with my eventual review).

But if the Prince had figured out who Cinderella was from the individual imprint of her shoe (which would have had to have been worn more than once, and likely not been made of glass), he would have learned a lot about his bride-to-be while searching for her. In that case, if he still insisted on finding her after learning all these details about her and believed more than ever that she was "the one", that would make for a very different story!

It also makes you wonder what you could do if you just had the "right" shoe.

*Note from Ebay Publicist: *Data taken from the past three months (10.12.14 to 09.03.15)
** I probably shouldn't write posts like this after watching shows like Criminal Minds... my imagination just scared me.

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