ok, so i feel the need to talk about the shoe thing. i make no secret of the fact that, like many women, i like shoes. in fact, i like both shoes and clothes, not simply because i’m a woman, but because i’m an aesthete. in its simplest form, i mean that things that are pleasing to the eye make me happy because i like to have the presence of beauty in the world reinforced. in its more practical form, related to human beings, i equate a certain pride in appearance with a level of self-respect. you want to show the world the beautiful you that you see. or, from another point of view, you believe you’re worthy of beautiful things. (and i’m saying this realizing that it can easily be taken to an unhealthy extreme, like most things.)
aestheticism has gotten a bad wrap in general, because it is associated with vanity and shallowness. the two are not necessarily linked. the other thing that is commonly associated with aestheticism is an unhealthy addiction to consumption. after all, you’re spending money on things, things that you don’t need. i always wonder why this criticism, though, should be limited to those who by products for aesthetic reasons. would it be more tolerable if i wore the same sweat pants and sports shirt for five days but drove an suv?
the image of the slightly braindead woman who owns a lot of shoes and clothes is a convenient handle that people like to attach, because it makes other human beings easier to deal with. it’s a common phenomenon; pick a basic, easy-to-understand trait in someone, something that’s obvious and relatively simple to make light of, work from the assumption that this represents the largest and most important part of their character and do your best to convey this perception to others.
as you might be able to guess, i get very sick of having this mantle foist on me. i spend almost all of my life either voluntarily wearing masks or having them imposed on me by others, but this has to be one of the most objectionable. i’m left with the impression that i could walk into a room, give a dissertation on van gogh, establish peace in the middle east, and design an interstellar craft that is environmentally beneficial and i’d be greeted only with “that’s nice, but don’t you really want to be shopping?”
now, i’m not trying to deny the fact that i enjoy things whose function is entirely aesthetic, but i am uncomfortable with the mentality that takes an existing part of my personality as constituting the whole. after all, it’s that same mentality that makes assumptions about people based on their race or gender or any other handle that means that you don’t have to work to understand someone else. that sort of intellectual laziness and lack of curiosity is an insult to the potential of the grey lump between your ears.
so yes, i really like shoes. and there are a lot of people who think that everyone other than them can be reduced to a simple set of catch phrases and surface-level personality traits. which one of us is shallow again?