There’s plenty of magic in this crazy old world but women’s shoes provide an added kick. Shoe styles have evolved in creative new ways that challenge traditional design and our imagination. I can’t think of any woman who doesn’t feel some sort of relationship to her shoes. Perhaps one of the best examples of “shoe power” is manifest in Frank Baum’s, “Wizard of Oz” story. Hollywood screen legend Judy Garland’s celebrated role as Dorothy in Oz is memorialized in the ruby red slippers. They epitomize the social, political and transformative power of shoes.
Baum’s movie came in the aftermath of the Great Depression and carried millions of people into a fantasy world of munchkins, witches, and flying monkeys. Moviegoers traded their hardships for a colorful world of new possibilities and strong female characters, like the good witch Glinda, and wicked witch Elphaba. To this day, Dorothy’s red slippers still evoke wondrous feelings about her magical journey along the yellow brick road. While life is fraught with perils like Dorothy’s, we too can find a happy ending if we follow Dorothy return to family through courage, intelligence and compassion.
Some critics have suggested that Baum’s story is grounded on his sympathetic leanings towards feminist politics and his underlying story champions women. It was Baum’s mother Matilda who inspired him to write the Oz story, and Baum and his wife served in the Aberdeen Women’s Suffrage Club. Given his mother’s friendship with Susan B. Anthony (a leading suffragette), and Susan’s documented lodgings with the Baums on many occasions, it’s not too crazy to suggest Dorothy’s shoes symbolize women’s empowerment.
While I’ve yet to own shoes that sweep me away like the great cyclone Dorothy experienced, I believe my shoes have magical properties. I’d be lost without my trusted adidas that keep my feet hugging the tennis court and boost my confidence. They help me to build a certain mindset like my classic black pumps with their structured heel. When I slip these on, I am smart, serious and confident in the corporate world. I know I’m not alone, no matter how silly this sounds. We are not dependent on shoes for power but they add to our psyche, and provide subtle, insightful messages about how we associate with the world.
Whether they express our cultural preferences, desires, needs, or social standing, I’ve also learned that great shoes like Dorothy’s are worthy investments. Her ruby red slippers have been on the auction blocks a number of times selling most recently for $2 million dollars. Looks like the lucky purchaser Leonardo DiCaprio has bought himself some magic to add to his stardom.
To learn more about the shoes in our womanscape, check out my related articles: “Walking the Ages” through the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada and “Raining Shoes” in Dubai’s Shoe Garden Exhibit. Or send me a pic and a story of your most powerful shoes!