For as long as I can remember, I've always referred to my legs as "chubby stubs" because when you're 4'11" all such body parts tend to grow outward, not upward. Thus, when winter boot season arrives, I typically gravitate toward the shorter varieties because I'm well aware that knee-high boots are reserved for tall women with toothpick limbs.But, once every year or so, my optimism gets the best of me and I toss a pair of tall boots into the mix for fun. Part of me always hopes some designer will throw my theory out the window by creating styles for stubby gals, and part of me simply wants to confirm what I already know. This year, my test took place during a random walkthrough at our nearby Lord & Taylor during its (supposed) biggest shoe sale of the season. I've always found that it's best to do the bulk of your serious shoe shopping during major sales, not because of the great deals, but because the associates are less likely to hound you incessantly, as they are constantly busy elsewhere. Unfortunately, however, in this instance, nothing went according to plan.
My mother, my sister, and I were passing by the shoe department on our way out of the mall, so we decided to poke around out of curiosity. Of course, the boots I wanted most were not on sale--a likely story--but that didn't prevent me from trying on some other styles that were outside my comfort zone. You see, my sister found an adorable pair of knee-high boots that she adored, but the display size was too small for her foot. Thus, she reluctantly handed them to me so I could have a little fun. But, the moment I sat down, an obnoxious sales associate approached to see if she could help me find the right size.
"You might have trouble," she said with an authoritative tone. "Those run small."
(I had no worries about my foot fitting whatsoever. I still fit comfortably into a kids' size 3 in most cases, so "cramming" my foot into this women's size 6 wasn't even on my radar.)
I told her I didn't need any help, but she continued to stare as I struggled with the zipper. I knew it wasn't going to zip--not even in the slightest, mind you--so I proceeded to remove the shoe, at which point she gestured and said, "They come in wide calves, too."
My face must've glazed over in disgust, because when the sales associate offered to search down my size in the wider variety, my mom replied with gratitude, while I mumbled that I'd keep that in mind. Fortunately, she couldn't find the color equivalent, so I was released from my obligation to make nice.
Not only was her tone incredibly rude and demeaning--two qualities that rarely contribute to one's sales success rate--but the selection was rather discriminatory, as well. Let's face it: Most women can't fit into the twig boots because, on average, we just aren't packaged accordingly. (Pay attention to the clearance racks toward the end of the season and you'll find all the proof you need.) But, in what may be considered an early Christmas miracle, I finally found a designer who understands the concept of varied body shapes. (Cheers to you, Kenneth Cole!) However, this well-respected department store thought it would be smart to separate these identical styles simply because they're made for different types of women.
Pardon me, but is this not the women's shoe department? Therefore, are we not all women? Why should some be ostracized, forced to browse in obscure corners, simply because they don't conform to the desired norm? Women face enough body image issues as it, and shoes are pretty much our only saving grace in a world filled with skinny jeans, crop tops, and Photoshop. We should not be made to feel ashamed of our bodies and we should not be treated as second-class consumers. In fact, retailers should advertise this sort of variety, not tuck it away somewhere, as such inclusive items would likely boost sales and brand reputation. Perhaps if companies start targeting the customers that exist, instead of some mythical ideal, they may achieve revenue higher than the heels that line the shelves.