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20 April 2005 @ 09:36 am
shoes and personas  
Or personae, if you're old-school.

I'm not a shopper of shoes. My modus operandi is to buy one pair of shoes a year and wear them into the ground. But the Nordstrom Rack is an Evil Retail Money-Suck and the other day I followed a whim and bought three pairs. Of the three, two were mules--no backs--which I never buy, one pair was heels, which I never buy, and one pair mysteriously shrunk after purchase and also had slippy soles. Neither heels nor slippy soles encourage a confident stride. But the shoes were pretty. Damn cobbler elves.

I got buyer's remorse and returned two pairs, keeping the heels, which I'm not sure what to do with yet. They're chunky heels, but whenever I leave the safety of carpet I totter. Plus when you're zaftig, heels can start to make your feet look like little cow hooves. These may have to wait forty pounds or so. Of course I bought these things to cultivate the future me: the thinner, more chic me. But personas off-balance me. Like, the other day I was on the bus and I was putting on lipstick and using my pink Sephora purse mirror, and then as I was recapping the lipstick I dropped the cap, and it rolled under a woman's seat and I had to get up and then kneel and root around for it. If I'd been less groggy I might have felt embarrassed, because there's a self-conscious ritual to putting on lipstick in public. It's a gesture of sophistication, like walking in heels, but if you trip in your heels, you feel like a dork, because you've ripped a hole in your persona.

Mostly I'm just myself without a lot of airs, having dorky moments and possibly the occasional graceful moment. But I've put on airs before, trying to model myself after blasé women in Vogue magazine ads and urbane professional women who pass me on the street, women with a certain something. And I'm not sure there's anything really wrong with that, because if you practice these little gestures and adopt these characteristics they can eventually become less studied, more natural. Many things have to be exercised in order to "take." Style is rarely natural.

I was thinking this the other day when coincidentally I finished up Garrison Keillor's Wobegon Boy, which had this passage:
All along Broadway are brand-new nondescript high-rise condominium buildings, and the people who come out of their doors are young, and dressed in black, with sixty-dollar haircuts. The bars along Broadway are theme bars, with a prepackaged attitude, designed for young people trying out roles to see what might fit, the classic reason for coming to the city. You certainly don't care to experiment with a new persona in front of your old uncles--see how they like you as Southwestern Hombre, Bad Dude, Sullen Sophisticate, Preppy Heartthrob. So you move to the city and melt into the mass of the Young and the Restless... New York is the great place for young adventurers. You can roam around, see incredibly weird things, be grossed out, learn the lingo, be glamorous in ways impossible back home...
I don't think he's particularly mocking here; it's fairly sympathetic, especially when the rest of the book has portrayed the main character's struggle to find a life beyond his lifestyle.

Anyway. That's my post about shoes. I've been tagged with a music meme, I see. ::pokes katallison in a friendly way:: ;) I don't have a lot of spectacular music secrets to disclose, but maybe I'll tackle that later.
julia_herejulia_here on April 20th, 2005 05:43 pm (UTC)
Got distracted by shoes, and the Rack... addicts, God, what can you do about them? and forgot personas, which is the more important topic.

I have cultivated, over the years, a bad-ass mama bear public persona; at first it was a survival mechanism for night-walking and hitchhiking because I was carless and living in Olympia when the buses stopped running at 5:30pm. I'm only 5'6" but with platforms and a very straight back and the kind of body language developed to stop yearling bulls (farming does develop some skills which can be applied in an urban environment), plus the shortened brass-headed walking stick dropping out of my sleeve, I've turned and confronted a street jackal testing for wounded prey and walked away unharmed, more than once (at midnight, at 12th and Jackson, once).

Problem is, I'm deprived of the right props, these days- cigarettes especially- and the effort of maintaining The Walk without limping is progressively more work. So I'm going more for the wise but forbidding crone thing. The current downside of that is getting hit on, in public, by frisky men in their 70s. But that might, in the long run, that might be a good thing.

Julia, there was a diversion into organo La Leche League hippy mom, but with only two kids I couldn't maintain it long