Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Live-Blog: Footwear Choices of Cornell Students

5:26 PM: Thinking back on what I have observed, I am still surprised that the largest group of students I observed was two. As a result, I could not tell if friends wear similar shoes. I also am thinking that Cornell students are not very social. However, it could be that it is the end of the semester and students are loaded with work. Also, interestingly there is a wide variety in shoe types, open-toed to winter boots, yet most Cornell students, male or female make similar choices. Perhaps despite their separation, Cornell students are similar. I find it interesting how I started out observing footwear choices and am now more observing behavior. This suggests that although shoes may often seem trivial, perhaps they can help us to understand the world around us.

5:21 PM: Another girl wears flats, a shoe type I have seen few of today. She was wearing tights with her flats. Tights are usually considered more acceptable than socks. Her legs and feet are probably still a bit chilly.

5:19 PM: A girl and a guy just walked by both in sneakers. Perhaps gender does not have a large affect on shoe choice.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Walking In Her Stereotypical Shoes

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” is an international movement for men to show support for females and to unite against sexual assault. As the name suggests, the movement includes asking men to wear women’s high heels and walk a mile. This action is supposed to get the community discussing gender relations and sexual violence. Also, most walks raise money for local rape crisis centers. There are 173 walks planned for 2010 (Baird, 2009).

For men, walking in high heels is unusual and painful. Yet, as George, a participant at Milford, CT walk said, “We spend 15 minutes in pain. But the victims of domestic violence spend a lifetime in pain” (Ramunni, 2010). Thus, men participate because they feel the rewards are worth it.

Interestingly, what this walk suggests is that gender stereotypes can be used in a beneficial manner. According to Melissa Lytton (2010), “A bunch of men running around in high heels draws a lot of attention, which outweighs any negative effects of its cutesy nature. It’s simply clever marketing, and it’s marketing that’s finally being used for a great cause.” Instead of men being laughed at for breaking a stereotype, they are being admired. As Jesse, another participant at the Milford, CT walk said, “I went into the men's room and you can imagine the looks I got. A man walked up to me and asked `what are you doing,' and when I told him he took a $20 bill out and gave it to me (for the fundraiser).” Thus, the walk hopes to use the uneasiness people have towards men wearing high heels into a learning opportunity.

In the case of “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” shoes are the gender stereotype. While there are other stereotypic female objects, such as a purse, the organizers believed shoes would be a better object, partially based on the old saying, “You can't really understand another person's experience until you've walked a mile in their shoes” (Baird, 2009). This walk shows the power of shoes to affect others and to have a positive effect, helping to raise awareness of sexual violence.


Baird, F. (2010). Walk a mile in her shoes. Retrieved April 25, 2010 from

Lytton, M. (2010). Race shows high-heeled men can help women heal. Retrieved April 25, 2010 from

Ramunni, K. (2010). Some find it hard to "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes." Connecticut Post. . Retrieved April 25, 2010 from

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Comfort or Style—Can you have both?

“From corsets to sky-high stilettos, women have been suffering in the name of fashion for years” (Namkung, 2010).

Often, humans feel as if they must decide between buying a comfortable shoe and buying a stylish shoe. As researchers have found that certain shoes can have positive or negative effects, (see recent post) the decision is becoming more important. Not only can uncomfortable shoes hurt, they can have lasting ill effects on feet. According to research done by Alyssa B. Dufour, women who wore supportive shoes early in life greatly reduced the amount of foot pain they experienced (Rabin, 2009). Now, some brands, such as Crocs and Dana Davis are designing shoes that are supposed to be comfortable and stylish (Namkung, 2010 & Newman, 2010).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Surprising Benefits of Flip-Flops

As flip-flops have gained popularity and moved from beach shoes to standard summer footwear, doctors have warned about the dangers they pose for feet, ankles, and knees (CBS, 2008). Surprisingly, a study by Najia Shakoor, MD, associate professor of internal medicine at Rush Medical College and attending physician at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, in Arthritis Care & Research found that arthritis suffers may benefit from wearing flip-flops and other flat flexible shoes (Doheny, 2010).

Previously, flip-flops were considered to have ill effects on the feet and the lower body. One reason is because flip-flops have thin soles, which lack arch support. The thin sole is problematic because it cannot absorb shock from everyday walking (CBS, 2008). Furthermore, according to Justin Shroyer, a doctoral student who researched flip-flops, “We found that when people walk in flip-flops, they alter their gait, which can result in problems and pain from the foot up into the hips and lower back” (Parker-Pope, 2008).

Despite such information, women persist in wearing flip-flops. For example, according to Reuters, “more than 31% of women said flip-flops were the single ‘must have’ item for work this summer” (2006). Women persist in wearing flip-flops, even though they may be inappropriate for certain occasions, such as their job (Goldsmith, 2006). This popularity of flip-flops, combined with the information on the problems they cause, seems to suggest that humans will wear shoes like flip-flops despite the dangers they pose.

Moreover, it seems wearers of flip-flops realize that most things are not purely good or evil. As the most recent research suggests, flip-flops may have benefits for some people. Moreover, the shoes doctors thought were best for people with arthritis, stability shoes and clogs, put the most pressure on knees (Doheny, 2010).

Humans seem to be willing to wear shoes despite posing health risks, such as foot pain. This may suggest that people may innately know which shoes are best for them. Most likely, however, it suggests that humans wear the shoes that they like best. As future research may disprove what science now reports, such as the change in the risks flip-flops pose, this may be the best course of action. From the current body of knowledge, flip-flops pose both benefits and risk, showing that science is often inconclusive and difficult for humans to navigate.

CBS. (2008). The dangers of flip-flops ... In footwear! Cbsnews.com. Retrieved March 31, 2010 from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/06/21/earlyshow/health/main4200038.shtml.
Doheny, K. (2010). Flip-flops, flat shoes relieve arthritic knees. WebMD. Retrieved March 31, 2010 from http://arthritis.webmd.com/news/20100329/flip-flops-flat-shoes-best-for-arthritic-knees.
Goldsmith, B. (2006). Are flip-flops damaging your career? Reuters. Retrieved March 31, 2010 from http://www.usatoday.com/money/jobcenter/workplace/2006-06-29-flipflop-career_x.htm.
Parker-Pope, T. (2008). Summer flip-flops may lead to foot pain. New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2010 from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/05/summer-flip-flops-may-lead-to-foot-pain/.