Thursday, June 29, 2017

Shoes 'r' Us: Psychosocial psychosexual profile of shoes

The word shoe (scoe) is Anglo-Saxon, meaning 'to cover furtively,’ and according to Rossi (1993) this is not in a protective sense but rather to hide an erogenous zone. Body parts play a key role in non verbal communication and may be decoded as cortically meaningful (Givens, 2002). Simply put shoes outwardly represent a non-verbal sign of gender, presence, and personality. According to Sonja Bata (founder of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto), "Shoes hold the key to human identity." They appear unparalleled in their ability to reveal the personality of the wearer. Many believe this is due to the encoded messages they contain which are recognised by our primal subconscious. Where this is most obvious perhaps is related to shoe choice and our psycho-sexual make up and personality. Pond, reminds us shoes are totems of disembodied lust, in some cases so strong as to magically transform us into beautiful, handsome, confident, or heroic persons. They appear true talisman and worthy of a fetishism. Today footwear communicates general values, personality traits, roles and goals. Our psychological, cultural and expression of our spirit are all well served by our footwear. They influence the way we think, feel, act as well as react to others, or so we are told? The author attempts to decipher the meaning of shoes and how they potentially reflect the personality of the wearer. This should not however, be seen as a precise science but merely an amusing illumination.

With the exception of hands and faces, clothing has an important social significance which tells much about the personality of the wearer. When observing strangers the sight of clothes provided the safest distance to judge friend or foe, with more intimate relationships dependent upon the finer facial features, body gestures and speech play. Seems clothing serves three more functions: decoration, modesty and protection. Whilst the latter may appear the most logical it is not supported by history (both ancient and modern). Fig leaf mentality may explain why we have covered up, but by far the major reason for clothing, is decoration. The essential purpose of decoration was to beautify bodily appearance in order to attract admiring glances from others thus fortify self-esteem. Modesty, on the other hand, makes us hide body parts in an attempt to refrain from drawing the attention of others. When decoration and modesty are pitted together this can provide a psychological conflict resulting in a clothing neurosis. The degree of harmony or compromise between these conflicting interests may be clearly seen in shoes.

Does that mean feet are sex organs? Sadly no, but they do exhibit unique features which separate us from all other beings. We have a weight bearing heel, inside arch, and big toe which enabled the species to develop an upright stance and maintain it throughout the waking day. Sigmund Freud argued whatever the cause of walking the consequence was eye sight was perfected over the other senses. Bi-pedal gait forged distinguished buttocks (another human trait), bosoms; legs, thighs, tummies, hips and the frontal display of genitalia. We remain the only species on the planet who can copulate standing vertical and facing each other. Feet are extremely well supplied by nerve pathways which transmit messages to multiple and diverse areas of the brain, including the sensory parietal lobe. By coincidence the sensory centre for feet lies adjacent to the sensory nerves of the genitalia. This may explain, why for some people, neural print-through causes their feet to become sexually expressive.

According to Harrold & Legg (1986) long before shoes became costume for all they formed a major part of ritual. From the beginning, human decoration celebrated procreation demonstratively directing the observer’s attention to gender. The theory of Displacement of Effect supports this and upholds when we covered up, the head and feet became gender symbols. Subsequently the greatest motive for wearing clothes was sexual. Not in the fig leaf sense (sinful) but to further enhance the attractiveness of the wearer in order to procreate the species. Another common use of decoration in primitive society was the display of trophies. People decorated and scarified their body to protect themselves from imaginary evil spirits. In primitive culture the victor carried mementos of the vanquished which would include their testicles. Strength and courage of the hunted animals were much admired by hunters and gatherers who wore hides in the hope to harness these attributes. This may well account why shoes were made from fish and animal skins. But it took until the technology was available for leathers to be tanned and treated before shoes could have a protective function. Once this took place the need to decorate the shoe for luck became a subtle craft. We see the remnants of this in modern shoes, such as brogue patterns; or tassels (testicles) on loafers. Carrying lucky talisman within the shoes has a long history which continues to this day with the Penny Loafer.

Rank, occupation and wealth were also encoded into types of clothing. Unshod feet in Roman times was the mark of a slave or woman; only male citizens of the city had the right to wear sandals. Military station was depicted by the height of boot worn by the soldier and in Mediterranean society; elevated sandals were worn by sex workers. Remarkably basic shoe design remains unchanged from antiquity.

Fashionable footwear was always the prerogative of the ruling classes and definitely the preserve of men. This all started to change in the thirteenth century when returning Crusaders brought back with them the concept of chivalry. Europeans embraced the concept of ideal beauty through the medium of visual arts and literature and womens’costume began a reflective change. International trade had led to the growth of towns and enrichment of the Italian mercantile classes with a resulting rich bourgeoisie. The women of the nouveaux riche wanted to emulate the privileges of nobility and became focused on perfecting the female body through the medium of sumptuous clothing.

According to Belk (2001) as consumers we appear to have an innate preference for products that not only function well, but also express themselves. Males are often more daring and naughty than their female counterparts in what they choose to wear. One theory why men use heavier apparel to create illusionary effects of masculinity and virility is because they have fewer erogenous qualities. Women on the other hand use less to highlight their natural erogenous features. According to the Non Verbal Dictionary female footwear shows personality and uniqueness (I am someone special). Male Footwear is part of a uniform to mark membership in a group (I am a cowboy). Footwear suggests connection with terra firma "both feet on the ground". An elevated heel implies the ability to defy the Earth's gravity whereas four wheel drive shoes send quite a different message.

According to the Non Verbal Dictionary, women's shoes can be classified into three general groups. Revealing shoes are 'bare all' shoes with the toes, heel, ankle and top of the foot all visible and calling attention to the frailty of the small delicate foot. Concealing shoes transmit a suggestive erotic message of tight containment. Both proclaim femininity, individuality and sexual allure. High heels make the frame appear more curvatious with bosoms and buttocks protruding and less accentuation on the waist. Increased height may appeal to the height challenged as well as giving an outward appearance of a smaller foot. To the less well endowed, added height from heels encourages an attractive boyish appearance, so enjoyed by the ancient Egyptians. Masking shoes, the third category, down plays personality by discouraging its notice. Often worn with socks, sensible shoes tend to be boxy, sturdy and squared off. Gender specific footgear for men fall into three categories: dominant, submissive or neutral. Dominant shoes are robust, wide, thick soled and heavy. Submissive shoes are narrow, lightweight thin soles, with tapering toes. Gracile to suggest vulnerability with a deliberate down play of foot's size and bluntness. The neutral shoe is fashionably bland and introverted. It is neither wide nor narrow, neither pointed nor blunt. The sole is neither thick nor thin, nor is the shoe obviously masculine or feminine. Neutral shoes project non-rebellious non-dominant anti-corporate mood in the work place.

Shoes can be divided into different design lines, which suit certain types of feet. The Classic line caters for the average foot with its emphasis on refinement, elegance and high fashion. These shoes are sleek, slightly chunky with smooth circle or geometric shapes but no angles. The Dramatic line is more suited to the narrow foot with its trim sleek and elegant lines and emphasis on angular shapes. Small feet are highlighted in the Romantic line with soft flowing lines that showcase foot contours. Detailed but lavish footwear. Moderate to large feet are often best in natural lines which are shoes sometimes chunky and always funky. The Gamin line favours moderate to narrow feet. Sharp, straight and crisp footwear designed in geometric and asymmetrical shapes, worn in colourful leathers and often with dark hosiery (sheer). According to Rossi (1993), there are eight basic styles i.e. the sandal, the monk, the moccasin, the mule, the clog, the pump, the boot and the lacing shoe.

Certainly one of the oldest and simplest forms of foot covering which date back many thousands of years. Stone Age sandals were a spontaneous invention, which helped protect vulnerable feet from alien environments. Later the spread of trade among Mediterranean countries accounts why sandals became associated with affluence but it took until the Romans before they became robust footwear, worn by the army. The trade of sandal making was almost lost after the Fall of the Roman Empire and only rediscovered in the early twentieth century when the heeled sandal was associated with Hollywood’s sirens. Now considered the sexiest shoe women can wear, the 'venez y voir' or come hither look is further enhanced with backless or slings back designs. All in an endeavour to catch 'back interest', that is admiring glances from suitable suitors whose eyes are transfixed on the beauty even after she has passed by. Sexy sandals are subtly erotic whereas bitchy sandals are flagrantly sexual (Jayne Mansfield). Women wearing the former are trying to convey a message, which says they want to be noticed and admired as feminine and sensuous women. According to Eisman (2002), today's male thong wearers may appear crude but beneath this veneer lurks a gentle, wounded soul. Dreamers and hopeless romantics choose Jesus sandals to represent their soulful and gentle personalities. Rough and ready types wear sport sandals similar in the way suburban dwellers drive four wheel vehicles. New Age self assured types exude their inner comfort by choosing reflexology sandals.

The Monk
The monk refers to the wide strap across the instep, which is attached to a buckle. The shoe was worn originally by Alpine monks in the 15th century and later caught a fashion following when ornate buckles took on the guise of shoe jewellery. Wearing them was a mark of prosperity and once again the prerogative of men. After the French Revolution, highly decorated shoes indicated social status and buckles soon became passé as the fashion for boots took over. Buckles meantime became popular with women's shoes. Today they survive in the most mundane form as fastenings for sandals and casual shoes worn by men and children. The monk style of shoe remains a male preserve and is worn by non conventional types assured in their mind their alternative retaining medium is an able match to the more predicable lacing persona. Men who wear peacock buckles are less sexually aggressive, more flamboyant, brazen, and ostentatious. Insecure types with a driving need for personality identity. However don't be fooled the flash exterior is superficial and under the surface lies a soft caring side to their nature, according to Eisman (2002).

By far the oldest shoe, dating back 15,000 years. Mongol tribes who migrated across the Bearing Straight 9 (circa 30,000 BCE) probably wore a simple wrap around hide held on with rawhide thongs. More associated with tribes of North American Indians who lived on the Ottawa River near the northern tributaries of the St. Lawrence River moccasins were stylised with fringes and coloured beads. Each tribe had their own distinctive style and decoration, much of which would depict rank and occupation. Today moccasin shoes usually describe imitation moccasins, which had their origins in Norway. The Norwegian Peasant Slip-on (or weejun) was first imported to the US by tourists in the 1930s. When Gucci made leather loafers in refined calfskin with a metal snaffle across the instep this had instant appeal. Slick, successful sophisticates flocked to wear them. The Rolls Royce of shoes celebrated craftsmanship, grooming and conformity but with just a hint of excitement. This was often expressed latently in the snaffle design. A two tassel ornamentation was common and is thought the represent symbolic testicles found in many native customs. A gold chain had obvious sado masochistic association and would be worn by domineering types. Soon loafers were available in spectator style (two colours) and by the 50s, Penny Loafers became all the rage with the campus based Ivy Leaguers of the US. Here the testicles were replaced with a lucky penny, which was incorporated in the snaffle. Popular with Hooray Henries of the time, the shoes were full of potential and excitement, in truth of course the shoe style represented no change and security rather than adventure, hence the lucky penny. When low vamp loafers were designed for females and made in soft kid leather they guaranteed successful cross over. College kids wore suede loafers, which was the source of inspiration for blue suede shoes. Imitation moccasins are sensuous shoes, typified by the stylised flair, slightly feminine but overtly masculine, these shoes are preferred by the lounge lizard who is both vain and domineering. Charmers with intoxicating personality the shoe's exaggerated proportions and adornments give a clue to the wearer's true persona. On the positive side moccasin wearers value quality over trends and exude a relaxed elegance that is timeless and very alluring. These people are confident and comfortable to be with. They enjoy looking cool and revel in the good life. Beware bad lots who are attracted to square toed loafers these fellows suffer illusions of grandeur are often brash and certainly preoccupied with cash. Loafers for women are conservative or neuter shoes i.e. neither sex-attractive nor sex-distractive. Neuter shoes reflect a quiescent or semi-active libido preferred by middle aged married women.

Clogs describe wooden soled shoes traditionally worn by peasants and more recently associated with Scandinavia. Two basic types are the sabot (or wooden shoe) and the more fashionable clog (wooden soled shoe with a leather upper). Clog wearers are considered complex and intriguing characters usually cool types with a strange and difficult past that will leave you better for knowing him. One clog devotee is Brian May of Queen. Once a cloggie then always a cloggie, or so it seems. Many men are turned onto clogs by seeing well turned ladies wearing them. Some are even attracted to the noise the clog makes. Hence there are a lot of closet clog wearers out there.

Originally these were shoes with wrap around leggings and date back approximately 4.5thousand years. Later when the leather leggings resembled a bucket, the French called then 'butt' meaning water bucket. These evolved in boute and finally boot. Over the centuries boots have undergone many changes and been gendered for their troubles. Boots as a fashion invariably follow war and represent coping with threat. Certainly the most contrived style is cowboy boots which have little to do with real Wild West and more to do with urban macho wannabes. The cowboy boot invokes heroic myth of the west, which promulgates rugged individualism, independence, quiet strength, and alienation from civilisation. According to the Non Verbal Dictionary they are a sign of authority and suggest strength by adding stature and stability. A boot's snug contact with pressure sensitive Pacinian corpuscles of the lower leg provides tactile reassurance while supporting the long tendons that run to the feet. Boots stabilise the ankle. Research has shown women find men in cowboy boots more attractive. Highly decorated boots express the gentler feminine side of the narcissistic wearer who may be rather superficial but always entertaining, if only for a short time. Boots with pointed toes indicate intense ambition. Whilst the suave and sophisticated sharpie may give out assured confidence and good humour that is as much as you are likely to get from them. The fashion for sharp toes can be traced to the resurgence of paganism and in particular a celebration of Pryapus. Men challenged by the absence of height prefer high heels. Wearers of biker's boots appear control freaks. No surprise there. This who sport elasticised boots may be free spirits who enjoy the simple comforts in life. Modern guys prefer the Yellow Suede, Hiking Boots, suppressed machismo, emaciated by modern day domesticity. Most will lack adventure in their lives but have four wheel boots to show they are ready (if not always willing). Doc Martens lacing boots are the mark of natural loners who may not seek close relationships. Many have leadership qualities with total commitment to passionate causes. The physiological benefits of boots may give the feeling of security on the street. According to Australian journalist, Jane Fraser, Ugg boot (sheepskin boot) is to the foot what Vegemite is to the tongue, what maroon is to a Queenslander, what 'haitch' is to a Catholic. What she might be surprised to learn is elsewhere in the global village creative souls designed for success but tired of convention, wear Ugg Boots. This makes them a personality, which is both unpredictable and capable of the unexpected. The fashion boot without doubt has given liberated women freedom style and support. Not to mention a lot of pleasure to men.

Pumps (Court Shoes)
The plain seamless pump started life as a heel-less shoe worn indoors. It was a slip on which did not extend beyond or above the vamp and quarter top lines, held onto the foot without a fastening, although later a wrap around strap like a ballet slipper was used. In the UK the pump was known as a court shoe. By the nineteenth century the slip on pump had become sophisticated worn by both men and women. A low front pump deliberately tantalised by exposing suggestive toe cleavage. When dandy Count D'Orsay introduced a pump style which was low cut on the sides to expose the curve of the long arch and the sinuous movements of the foot the shoe took on extra sensual components. The sensual trifecta was completed with the addition of higher heels. By the thirties daytime shoes were neat and feminine-looking with oval toes and straight, high heels. The classic court shoe was an everyday basic but the new look slender heeled sandals with ankle and T straps in reptile skins, soft kid, and suede and satin were very much the desire of most. Shoes were immaculately presented matt fabrics were always well brushed and leather buffed to a high gloss. Strappy designs were more evident in the more elegant evening shoes. The straps were sometimes plaited or made of satin ribbon and crossed over like ballet pumps. Other styles were dotted with glitter and fastened with fancy gold, silver or diamante buckles. The sides and heels of the shoes were sometimes decorated with tiny gold flecks or diamante tips. Gold and silver 'Charleston' sandals were very popular and a ready accessory for eveningwear. Other shoes were covered with fabric to match a particular dress; alternatively dresses in plain velvet satin or chiffon were worn with patterned shoes, making pretty high-heeled sandals covered in eye-catching, glittering brocade. Hollywood loved two types of women's shoes i.e. the high heeled pump which always looked glamorous despite its inappropriateness to the many action scenes the heroines were depicted wearing them; and the thin strappy sandal as worn by Hayworth, Garbo and Davis represented a willing partner to seduction.
Screen beauties rarely forsook these stereotypical props and when they did it became a memorable event. Being filmed in anything else could only add further charm to their existing persona.

The origins of heeled shoes probably came from shepherds tending their flocks on steep mountainous country in Pre Hellenic Times. As trade spread across the Mediterranean the elevated sandal became a fashion vogue for rich and powerful men. Later elevated shoes were worn by actors and streetwalkers. The fashion heel for women ironically came in the sixteenth century after a short fling with platform shoes. Chopines were worn by Venetian women of substance both to celebrate the leg as well as (and probably more importantly) to display the sumptuous clothing of the times. Reported falls (or miscarriage) in pregnant women meant the platform was banned but cleaver shoemakers cored out the section of the platform corresponding to the ball of the foot. Ironically by stabilising the foot they created the first orthopaedic footwear or high-heeled shoe. Despite this the heeled shoe we know today could not have been made in the past, prior to developed lasting techniques used for mass production at the turn of the 19th century. Once heeled shoes became passé for fashionable women the style was still enjoyed by female sex workers, even after the Revolution. So popular was the style for heels among sex workers the French girls that immigrated to the US continued to wear them much to the delight of full blooded all American Males. Soon after the first US heel factory was opened. With the introduction of Hollywood came the need to depict visually heroes and villains, clothing took on a special meaning especially with improved cinema photography and the full body shot. Clothing stereo types included shoes where the heeled sandal represents the modern-day, Jezebel. This image was forever frozen with the introduction of the stiletto in the early fifties, which happened to correspond for many with the beginnings of a post war permissive age. High heels are seen as a rite of passage from girl to women. Blisters and sprains worn with pride in a similar manner to nickel allergies.

Lacing Shoe
Lacing shoes were introduced in the seventeenth century in England. At first they were thought to be rather effeminate but later took a fashion hold when fops at Oxford University wore them in the eighteenth century. The Oxford shoe became a foot corset designed to highlight the curves of men's feet. Worn tight to the foot the shoes were smaller than the foot and always with a heel. This meant the man minced which became accepted norm for real me. Corn cutting became a popular service during this time. It took until the nineteenth century before the fashion crossed the Atlantic and came with English invasion. This movement would influence adult costume for the next half a century. To accommodate broader feet Bluchers were adopted and lacing shoes become synonymous with conservative dress attire for both men and women. Patent Leather was developed in the thirties as a waterproof material for shoes. Now solid dependable types, stalwarts of community, wore lacing shoes. Not without its irony and despite their origins lacing shoes are classified as eunuch shoe for men, and sexless or comfortable footwear for women. The later is a euphemism for lesbianism. According to Rossi people who wear lacing shoes wish to voluntarily withdraw from natural concerns of sexual attraction e.g. funeral directors, paramedics, and nurses. Non conformists may wear brogue patterns or two-tone uppers indicating a psychosexual masquerade with the masculine costume smothering the peacock inside. Jack Kennedy was a man who preferred high fashion in footwear but conformed for his public image. Neuter shoes are neither sexy nor sexless neither fashionable nor non-fashionable. They exhibit a glimmer of promise at first inspection, but on a closer look are found wanting, i.e. a eunuch like quality. A conservative fashion with medium to low heel, semi-rounded toe, closed rather than open toe box. The colour subdued, the materials conventional and the ornamentation, if any, minimal. Passive styles for psychosexually passive people (Rossi, 1993).

The sandshoe which is a canvas Oxford was an invention of the 19th century and although had humble beginnings without doubt heralded the beginning of the most popular footwear of existence. Middle class preoccupation with sport and recreation meant sport kits included dedicated sports shoes. BY the middle of the 20th century they became the icons of youth. Lacing shoes with attitude have become inseparable from youthful rebellion. Sport shoes are now perceived an essential part of ritual garb associated with both the best of being human as well as its darker side. From the time Jimmy Dean endorsed coolness, when he was photographed wearing tennis sneakers to MC Hammer rapped praise on his Adidas sneakers, the sporting Oxford has ruled supreme. People who wear sneakers are not too concerned with their looks but do prize comfort and security over anything else. Wearers of designer trainers are probably ambitious, motivated and driven in all their endeavours. Their materialistic outlook and competitive nature however puts them under enormous internal pressures. The carefree casual appearance of those wearing bowling shoes (a leather top hybred) belies a passionate conversationalist who is intensely romantic. These people are often well travelled and strongly opinionated. Traditionalists too self-conscious to be really cool, wear running shoes. These people are not part of the 'in crowd' but would dearly love to be. Large size, bold contrasts, and loud colours suggest youth and physical fitness. Often more theoretical than actual. Identification with team

The Mule
Mules or slip shoes started as heelless, quarterless slippers worn in Elizabethan times. Later they became associated with the boudoir and are the ancestors of bedroom slippers, and worn by women of distinction. Richly endowed with silk and velvet these were often heavily bejewelled or highly decorated. During the nineteenth century when Manet's painting of Olympia was revealed to the public it caused a riot. The reclining courtesan was seen playfully holding her foot half in and out of her mules. The implications were obvious to all. The shoe has enjoyed a recent renaissance with Ath Leisure and has become more popular in the US, post '11/09'. Realisation the shoe could be a weapon, combined with widely broadcast images of discarded shoes left behind as people tried to escape falling masonry had a major impact. Increased security associated with travel, especially by air, has given the mule a new lease of life. The shoe is worn by pragmatists, people who enjoy comfort as well as fashion.

Sensible Footwear
Sensible shoes are considered sexless, stripped of illusion and sexual promise. Neither do they seek sexual communication, nor do they receive any. They are shoes without personality and often worn through necessity. Sensible shoes are sterelotypically seen in service personnel, and might be a term used to describe orthopaedic footwear. Sensible footwear as a description first appeared in the thirties and was used to describe anti-fashion footwear which incorporated styles deemed inappropriate for a Western World preoccupied with Physical Culture. Today the term 'sensible shoes' is often used as a derogatory term by heterosexuals to describe lesbians.

Before the rebellion of 1745, the Celtic population (of Scotland and Ireland) went barefoot all year round. Either sex, rich or poor prided themselves on going barefoot as if a sense of national pride. Sassenachs were considered less hardy because they wore shoes. Scots and Irish settlers to the colonies continued to go barefoot until the end of the 18th century. It is still very much in living memory that children and adults went barefoot in Australia not because of adversity but because it was second nature. Times are a changing however and intense fear of low socio-economic groups mean going barefoot today is not encouraged by private owners of public spaces. Hence people who continue to do so have made a life style choice which often alienates them from society. Most appear in perfect peace with themselves, refreshingly relaxed and content with the simple pleasures of life.

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Huajian Group: Chinese investigators released

The labour rights group, China Labour Watch, (CLW) a New York non-profit organisation keen to promote transparency of supply chains and factory labour conditions in China hoped to publish a report alleging low pay, excessive overtime, crude verbal abuse and possible misuse of student labour at the Huajian Group factory in Ganzhou. Allegations of physical abuse of workers and the company forcing them to sign fake pay stubs with inflated salary numbers as well as threats to sack workers who did not complete questionnaires about working conditions with pre-approved answers, raised concerns. After workers claimed the company pressured people not to speak with outsiders about conditions at the factory. Three Chinese investigators went undercover at a factory to gather video, pictures and evidence of exploitation. In late May of this year, the three were detained by police. After being imprisoned for a month on charges of using secret cameras and listening devices. They were bailed from jail but may still face an uncertain future and the threat of a trial.

Some of the Huajian Group of the factories had previously produced Ivanka Trump shoes, among other brands, but denied all allegations of excessive overtime and low wages. The Huajian Group, have started to move their production to Ethiopia, where workers make around $100 a month, a fraction of what they pay in China.

Before taking on an official role as adviser to her father, Ivanka Trump stepped back from day-to-day management of her brand, but has retained her ownership interest. She has not commented on the detentions or the reports of poor working conditions at one of her brand’s suppliers. The president of the Ivanka Trump brands company, confirmed their shoes had not been produced at the factory in question since March.

Podiatry: The ten plus one most frequently asked questions

Less than one third of the world's population will require foot care. This relates to all ages and all stages of the life cycle. Contrary to popular belief this means the majority of human beings enjoy pain free feet lifelong. Those people in need of foot care will range from mild discomfort and need of foot toiletry to severe 'at risk' limbs with imminent amputation. Please note, the information contained here is for information only and does not constitute direct health care advice. In the event of foot problems then consult a podiatrist or your own physician.

What letters of qualifications should I look for when I want to find a podiatrist?
Qualifications vary from country to country but in Australia and New Zealand as all Western Countries where podiatry is a closed profession, it is illegal not to be registered with the Australasian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Podiatry Board of Australia). Most registered podiatrists belong to a professional association, and many are members of the Australasian Podiatry Association with the post nominals, M A Pod A (WA). Some practitioners include their academic qualifications such as Diploma of Podiatry (Dip Pod), Bachelor (BSc) or Master of Science (MSc), or Docorate (PhD). In the latter case they will use the pre-nominal "Doctor".

More information:
Australasian PodiatryCouncil
American Association of Podiatric Medicine
The College of Podiatry

What is the difference between a podiatrist and a chiropodist?
Lay people are fascinated with names and want to know "What is the difference between a podiatrist and a chiropodist?" In Australia both terms are used within the state acts which govern registration. As a term chiropody is less popular now and since podiatry means to treat feet, ‘podiatrist’ is the preferred term. The majority of foot problems involve skin or nails i.e. corns and acute infections. Systemic diseases, musculo -skeletal and repetitive injury are the common precursors. Not everyone however suffers sore feet and approximately one third of the population at any age or any stage requires services of foot physicians.

Do corns have roots?
Corns and callus are Nature's way of protecting skin surfaces subjected to complex shearing stress. Increased cell reproduction arises when the normal skin cells are damaged by friction. Over a bony prominence this causes skin to appear deeper as if growing from a core or root. Successful pain relief comes from excess skin reduction with a sharp scalpel. This is almost impossible to do safely for yourself and needs an expert to do this on your behalf. Hard skin will return within 28 days as the damaged cells are replaced. All external cause of friction must be removed.

Are verrucae catching, and can I go swimming if I have one?
The short answer is conditions apply, because at certain stages of the life of the wart (caused by a virus) it may be more contagious than others. It is prudent to take precautions. Viral infections are picked up by physical contact and can live outside the body especially in wet conditions e.g. changing room floors. Protecting the sole with rubber socks reduces the risk of cross infection and allows those with verruca to swim safely without contaminating others.

What causes Athlete's Foot and how can I prevent it?
Athlete's foot is a generic term for fungal infections of the foot. Fungi and yeasts thrive outside the body in warm, moist conditions such as showers or changing room floors. These flora are highly contagious and present symptoms such as: irritated patches of skin between the toes, which crack and peel. These may appear soggy and smell unpleasant and hence, the reference to the foot of an athlete. Discoloured nails and or scaling and itching skin are common symptoms. Good foot hygiene improves skin texture and many Symptoms disappear. In the event of an identified fungi or yeast then prescribed medicines are usually very effective.

Tell me why my feet hurt after standing on them all day?
The amount of energy required to stand still is greater than walking and running. People compromised by a lack of circulation moving through the lower extremity coupled by gravity, drawing body fluids downwards causes the ankles to swell. By the end of the day the gathered fluid makes feet bigger. Symptoms vary but many people complain of burning sensation relieved only by removing shoes and bathing and resting their feet.

My feet tend to get very sweaty in summer, what can I do?
There are more sweat glands per inch of our feet than anywhere else in the body. Sweating is perfectly natural and with good foot hygiene then even the wettest foot will present fewer problems. Increased temperatures around the feet cause by exercise or environmental increases perspiration rates. Fluid buildup in the presence of certain bacteria of accounts for foul smells. Going barefoot or wearing open-toed shoes or sports thongs encourages sweat evaporation and regular bathing in salt water removes of sweat breakdown and smelly feet. Avoid covered footwear and regular use good antiperspirants also help.

How can I get rid of hard skin?
Man-made fibres dry out the surface of the skin and when general friction increases local temperatures skin cell production is increased. Old dry cells become dry and are slow to separate from the new cell beneath. How we walk dictates callus patterns and depending on the type of stress over the area determined its appearance e.g. cracked skin on the heels. Skin cells respond instantly to moisturising creams. Complicated hard skin types may respond better to prescribed medication. Using a pumice stone to gently remove the hard skin is often made easier after a warm foot bath (46C0) for no more than 10 minutes.

Why do women suffer more foot problems than men?
More women visit the podiatrists‘surgery but that does not preclude men from having as many foot problems as their gender counterpart. They just do not go to their podiatrist. Many misguidedly blame the apparent sex difference on inappropriate footwear but there is little scientific evidence to support this premise. Epidemiological studies have shown that over the age of eighty, more men are likely to need podiatric care.

Are shoes the source of most foot problems?
The simple answer is no and provided the shoe fits comfortably and is appropriate to the activity It is put to then foot and shoe should be completely compatible. Not everyone complies. In studies women are more likely to wear shoes smaller than the physical dimension of their feet and a neat fit does feel more comfortable. Differences in nerve proprioception between the genders are thought to be a significant reason why women prefer tighter fitting shoes.

What is a foot orthotic?
Allopathic medicine is based on the concept there is an ideal model of normality and deviation from the norm may be corrected by replacing the missing piece. Corrective foot orthoses consist of foot platforms with balanced wedges made from different materials to effect different functions.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Vindolanda: Roman Shoe cache

A shoe cache of 7,000 Roman shoes have been unearthed from Vindolanda, an auxiliary fort in, Northumberland, near Hadrian’s Wall.

Most shoes appear custom made, including baby boots and the cache is thought to date from 208-2012AD. It remains unclear why so many shoes have been found but experts believe they were abandoned when garrisons moved to a new posting. The only means of transport was walking and sometimes to Continental Europe. Items that could not be carried were routinely thrown away.

Experts believe since the find does not include many pairs. The common habit then, was to replace worn shoes individually with an identical style made by a local shoe maker. At first during early Roman occupation, Caligae (military-style hobnail boots) were preferred but the longer the Romans remained in Britain, men’s shoes became highly decorated, made from dyed leather, and worn with coloured laces.

Slipper-like shoes (carbatina) for indoor wear were also found indicating the Romans left their everyday shoes outside their dwellings.

A brief history of Rock Shoes (1956-1990)

If there was ever an item of clothing to epitomise the style and fashion of an era, it would have to be shoes (or their absence). Visit any cd store and you can pick up a dozen covers of compilation hits and three quarters of them will depict the age with fashionable shoes of the time. What's more these are instantly recognisable. This very sentiment was caught in the lyrics of the pop song "It's still rock and roll to me"

How about a pair of pink sidewinders (sandals)
And a bright orange pair of pants?
You could really be a Beau Brummel baby
If you just give it half a chance.
Don't waste your money on a new set of speakers,
You get more mileage from a cheap pair of sneakers."
Next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways
It's still rock and roll to me.
Billy Joel

The most famous shoes of the rock and roll era were Carl Perkin's Blue Suede shoes. Although Elvis Presley had the big hit the credit was always given to Perkins. The idea for the song came from his early days when he and Johnny Cash were queuing for some tucker. Someone in front cried a warning to another in the queue not to tread on his foot. 'Hey don't step on my blue suede shoes". Cash was moved to say to his companion that would be a good title for a song. Later, when Perkins was playing in a dance hall he noticed one of the dancers gesticulating to his partner not to stand on his feet. The following morning, or so the story goes, he woke up with the song lyrics in his head. Unfortunately a road accident prevented him from performing the hit and Elvis, in need of a follow-up to Heartbreak Hotel took 'Shoes' to the top of the charts and the rest, as they say is history.

Buddy Holly, by contrast wore brown suede shoes.

The American youth culture of the post war period was obsessed with their freedom and had the affluence to indulge in the merging fashion industry. This had a major impact around the world. By the fifties jive was established and the frankest portrayal of sex yet performed. Kids no longer needed the dress as their forebears did but instead needed to be free to jive. The war babies had for the first time money to spend on themselves. Clothes records and cosmetics were now available for teenagers, which suited their style and not their parents. At first nothing changed. The young had money but manufacturers had not woken up to the potential sales. In the UK styles filtered down from Belgravie and young people were expected to become young ladies and gentlemen with any reference to sex in dress completely played down. Similarly the North American youth followed conservative fashion but the world was in for a rude awakening. Blue Suede Shoes united the kids in this youthful rebellion, or so you might think. In truth Carl Perkins was singing about up market Penny Loafers much favoured by the Ivy League in the US. Loafers are essentially a two-piece moccasin with a hard sole and a strap or saddle, made of leather, over the instep. The name 'loafer' comes from the German 'landlaufer' meaning a wanderer, or vagabond. The Penny Loafer was also known as Kerrybrooke Teenright Smoothies
and had a good luck penny stuck in the leather saddle. Worn by "Preppies", the style was popular with both sexes. Suede was a shoe cover preferred by effeminate men so the kids took to them, to flaunt convention.

Meantime the rebellious Teddyboys in the UK; Halbstarke in Germany; and Blousans noirs in France were wearing Brothel Creepers. By comparison a cheaper suede shoe worn with two inch thick crepe soles. A hybrid of the desert shoe their appeal lay in their deliberate crudeness and the name, demonstratively spelling out the sexuality of the shoe. Officers during the desert campaign in North Africa originally wore the humble desert boot. These were suede bootees made with lightweight and hardwearing crepe soles. The origins are blurred but it is thought Egyptian cobblers made the shoes for the soldiers. The fashion was developed by Clarke's of England and when treated suede became available (ie Hush Puppies) then desert boots became popular with middle class smoothies. Many were single men who had for one reason or other not been married (perhaps because of the war). In any event they were often see around the nites spots of Soho and Kings Cross and hence the name brothel creeper.

The new Teddyboy brothel creepers were as aggressive as desert boots were urbane. Worn originally with drapes and drainpipe trousers they were a variation of the sartorial style of Prince Edward, hence the name teddy boy. An interesting innovation was the unconventional use of a bootlace, Emerging youth culture appeared across the world and Bodgies or widgies (girls) became the new Larrikins of Australia. The Bodgies combined the US & UK fashion, adding a hint of Italian, the juveniles appeared in Spiv suits worn with pointy, white shoes. Later with crossover rockabilly, crocodile skin shoes became the business, especially worn with black satin shirts. Dress codes became very important in public places like dance halls and pubs. All in all the style was the right image for angry young men and women and made up the post war generation, which were about to burst into life. No shrinking violet, Little Richard combined the flash with the brash and spearheaded the glamorous sartorial style we now associate with early Rock 'n Roll. Brothel Creepers made a brief reappearance two decades later but were no longer the sign of youthful rebellion. Instead they were rather a shade of their former glory and like the imitation crocodile and leopard skins they became contrived bad taste of the post glitter era.

The Chicago jug bands of the 20's with their make shift instruments became the inspiration for a short lived fad in the fifties, called skiffle. Probably outside the US, Lonnie Donnigan became one of the first guitar heroes of modern music. He started life in an English jazz combo run by Chris Barber. In keeping with their off the wall music, skiffle bands wore non conventional clothing including sandals (thongs) on stage. The fashion was made popular at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics when the Japanese swimming team, wore getas as sports sandals. The new hip generation or Bohemian Beatniks were ‘cool dadio’ in their open toed sandals or bare feet.

By 1957, Sydney's bodgies & widgies (Teddyboys and Teddygirls) abandoned their restrictive "St Louis Blues" (rhyming slang for shoes), and came to rumble in their bare feet.

The famous 'duckwalk ' was invented by Chuck Berry was a rouse to distract the audiences' attention from his poor quality, wrinkled suits. However it did not stop other artists from incorporating similar silly walks into their stage presentations. Despite his massive hit with Blue Suede Shoes, Presley seldom, if ever appeared in public wearing them. In Jailhouse Rock his adoring fans caught 'The Pelvis' sporting sneakers and saddle shoes (a close relative to the penny loafer). The fashion was officially sanctioned when James Dean was photographed wearing Levi jeans and white Converse Jack Purcell's. Jack Purcell was a badminton player who endorsed the only trainers with smiles.

Later, when West Side Story depicted the Jets and Sharks about to rumble, wearing their sneakers this was art imitating real life. Overnight sneakers were cool and just as well because the jive was especially energetic dance. Its spasmodic body movements interspersed with vigorous gyrations meant lightweight durable footwear was ideal. These both encouraged freedom of movement as well as offering greater traction on the dance floor. As fast as you could sing "High Heeled Sneakers" canvas topped shoes replaced "Blue Suede Shoes" as the symbol of youthful rebellion.

The word sneaker was first used in 1875 and it referred to an early croquet shoe, which was developed in the US. Because they were cheap (originally made from rubber off cuts), the shoes was worn by high school students around the world.

In the 50's young ladies were not encouraged to participate in contact sports instead North American High Schools encouraged them to become cheerleaders and support the young men engaged in active sport. Teenage cheerleaders wore tight sweaters, short skirts, ankle or bobby socks with canvas topped shoes produced by the US Rubber Co. Originally these were called Peds but the name had already been copyrighted and was changed to Keds.

Young men wore chucks, which were a sneaker designed for basketball. Chuck Taylor played for the Buffalo Germans and Akron Firestones, his association with "Converse All Stars" was so great the shoes became known as 'Chucks'. Chucks had been available since 1921. Soon the sole pattern of sneakers became every bit as important as the upper designs. This US dominated fashion was reflected across the globe primarily through the emerging teenage cinema and television. Needless to say parents and authorities condemned every new fad vehemently, which only endorsed, in the minds of the youth, the way to go.

'Ton Up Boys' or bikies were considered outlaws and tougher than the Bodgies (or Teds). Their main obsession was motor bikes and they wore leather jackets (with or without gang colours), white Ts, blue jeans, studded belts, and engineer's boots. The significance of the above the ankle boot was very sensible as it protected the lower leg from the damaging heat of the bike's exhaust. The heavy boots also, by coincidence provided a useful offensive weapon to use in the ubiquitous rumble with sworn enemies.

The fashion was crystallised in every would be rebel, by the film 'The Wild One" starring Marlon Brando. So powerful was censorship at the time, this film was not screened in some counties until the 1970s. Later cowboy boots replaced the dull engineer's boots as the fad for Rodeo swept US & Australia. Based on the design of Mexican riding boots (or vaquero) these sat well on the bike but the shoe portion was made tight making walking very difficult and often painful. Two distinctive physical characteristics of the new breed of juvenile delinquent became apparent. Their walking style and their language. Every country had their own "Wild man of Rock", the original was Jerry Lee Lewis, all others paled into insignificance.

No self-respecting rocker went without their distinctive pompadour quaff with Duck's Arse (DA). This required the ubiquitous hair comb as an accessory and emphasis on the macho meant, 'Flickcombs' were essential. This was eminently better than the flick knives favoured by the bad boys or juvenile delinquents. By the late fifties the anger was taken out of the first wave of the rock generation and conservative Tin Pan Alley again produced novelty records to the eager masses. "Tan shoes with pink shoe laces" was one such effort and many early rockers became enveloped into the silly season of pop. Suede shoes (ie Hush Puppies) become the preferred fashion of the university students with their duffle coats, commitment to the Campaign of Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and love for Trad Jazz. This thinking generation were the new moderns and forerunners of the Mods.

In the States the emergence of the "Preppy Cool Set", (over 25s) and their continental influenced Peppermint Lounge meant the venue for listening and dancing to music changed. Smaller venues with movement restriction necessitated popular dance took place standing in one spot. The deeply sexual coupling of rock'n’roll changed to one where there was now no body contact whatsoever. The Twist required shoes to be twisted, circular fashion, against the floor in a left and right manner, as if flattening a cigarette butt. This was combined with swinging the arms and hips as if an imaginary towel was drying the back. These gyrations were best viewed when the dancers wore tighter clothing showing off their long legs. Winkle pickers or needlepoint shoes replaced the cumbersome crepe soled shoes for men. The pointed toes were a reworking of the scandalous poulaines of the Middle Ages. These were outrageously phallic and distinctly male only to be worn during permissive times. The stiletto heel, which had been around since the early fifties, was given a new lease of life with the introduction of pantyhose and mini skirts. Courtship took place on the dance floor and ability 'swing right' was caught in many of the contemporary lyrics e.g. "Let's dance" by Chris Montez and "Twisting the Night Away" by Sam Cooke. By the time "Lets Twist Again" was released, Chubby Checker shot to popularity. Chubby wore two tone basket weave styled boots on stage and this became his show business trademark. The significance of the basket weave design was to keep the singer's feet cool, whilst demonstration the new dance.

Between the years 1960-63 Tin Pan Alley moguls kept cash registers filled by adhering to the tried and tested systems of previous decades. Stifling originality a return to tailored suits and patent leather shoes was the stage fashion as the beat generation metamorphosed into the new Mersey Beat. The new innovative pantihose meant women's hemlines became even shorter matching the length of men's jackets. Tight fitting bolero jackets (or bum freezers) were worn by men and two piece tailored outfits for women. During the early sixties the instrumental made a popular come back. The preferred instrument was the electric guitar and the music had a strong beat with an obvious percussion driving it. Foot tapping replaced hand jiving as the acceptable form of music appreciation as beat music and the transistor radio became more available. New instrumental groups began to spring up led initially by the Ventures in the US, and The Shadows in the UK. Techno-music made a brief appearance in the mono works of The Tornados celebrating the new space age with their international hit "Telstar". Sharp-toed shoes were worn as trendy slip-ons usually with high heels for women.

The Stomp was inspired by the actions of walking on hot sand. It became the official surfie dance of the 60s in Australia. To do the dance properly, dancers had to be barefoot. Away from the beach and dance floor, surfies wore dessert boots. Thongs, then were distinctly, uncool. To get boots ready for wearing, real surfies dragged them behind their woodies for a couple of miles. In California, the Beachboys wore sneakers, but of course, only one of them, was a real surfer. The sworn enemy of the Australian surfie was the sandkickers or boot wearing, Rockers. At every opportunity the two groups would have a blue (Australian slang for rumble). No surfing community (to speak of) in the UK, teenagers met at the seaside and fought, usually Moderns verses the Greasers. The infamous Mods and Rocker riots would come later.

When the Beatles arrived, they came wearing boots with Cuban heels. The inspiration had came from Brian Epstien who commissioned the Mayfair firm of ballet shoes makers, Anello and Davide to make the Fab Four, distinctive footwear. Beatle boots were high heeled, Chelsea Boots which instantly became vogue. Chisel toes soon relaced the sharp toe and for the price of one pound, local cobblers would oblige you by converting your peaks into the new chisel toe fashion. They just chopped off the end. A point of interest the Beatle Boot was less macho and resembled the style of boot favoured by Victorian ladies. Whilst not effeminate it was distinctly a softer less aggressive style than brothel creepers and winkle pickers. The boots often incorporated a French seem or central stitch running from ankle to toe on the upper. In the convention of symbols this referred to female genitalia rather the phallus of long toed or winklepicker shoes.

If the Beatles were the 'boy next door' image of the British Invasion then the Stones had to be different. For a short time the lads wore Clarke's dessert boots to counteract the Beatles leather, Chelsea boots. However anarchy ruled, and the scruffy London, five piece group appeared on stage wearing the clothes they wanted to wear (and not that of their management). No Saville Row suits for them (albeit Charlie Watts is reported to have houses full of them). The order of their day was casual and not necessarily smart. Something which did bind them together however was their footwear, because they all sported sneakers. Mick Jagger was such a devotee he even wore his Chucks (Chuck Taylor Converse All Star's) to his wedding with Bianca. Now there is dedication. The Stones epitomised the Chicago Blues revival and captured the music so well as to be acceptable to the blues greats and their many fans. There is a lovely irony however and that is many of the original blues greats would, even at the height of their creativity, be unable to afford a decent pair of shoes. Keith Richards on the other foot has his footwear wardrobe made to his personal lasts and these he orders in bulk.

Tights and mini skirts meant female legs became the focus of attention with the sixties generation. The longer the leg the better and girl singing groups like The Shangri-las captured the sultry look perfectly by wearing slacks and high heeled ankle boots. The Vietnam War meant many conscripts were off shore and pin up images of sexy girls waiting at home were very much in vogue.

Jim Proby (AKA PJ Proby) will probably be best remembered for his trouser splitting performances in 1965. His sartorial style was inspired by the film of the season, 'Tom Jones', the Henry Fielding classic. Albert Finney played the lead role in this raunchy tale of a larrikin. Proby wore his hair in a bow and the tight pants and high heeled court shoes with silver buckles. Similar in style to those worn by the Sun King (Louis XIV). The style for Regency buckles on slip on shoes was short lived but not before a certain Welshman was quick to put it to good use. The singer's management (Gordon Mills) were equally as quick to drop the style, but keep the name, Tom Jones.

The nouveaux moderns (or mods), followed the black music of Motown and wore expensive designer clothing. As in Australia where the surfies hated the rockers, mods and rockers were sworn enemies and took every opportunity, according to the popular press, to terrorise English coastal towns by fighting on the beach. Mods wore lightweight dessert boots (Chukka Boots) top protect their ankles from the exhaust pipes of their Italian scooters. The Who became the Mod band and wore Italian made bowling shoes, which by coincidence are coming back into fashion. Roger Daltry was, for many, the definitive mod yet he was a self confesed Ted who allowed himself to be manipulated into the new fashion. Who said we won't get fooled again?

Sandie Shaw seldom appeared on stage in shoes and preferred to sing barefoot. A habit she shared with many young idealists now following the road to enlightenment and self discovery. Perhaps as a reaction to Vietnam and rejection of western materialism, Hippies symbolically went without shoes. Thongs, kaftans, bells, loons and Afghan coats were the uniform of the love generation. The cream of pop culture came together for three days of love, peace and music at Yasgor's Farm. Hippies and rockers united to show it could be done.

Towards the end of the sixties as music went underground (heavy metal) an alternative culture grew and listened to the music of Jamaican Ska. Blue beat suited the small clubs where the early ravers danced the night away. Robust footwear was the order of fashion and Doc Martin became the shoes to wear. Servicable yet fashionable the heavy duty boots were useful in a rumble and could be worn by either sex. Unisex was definately in fashion. The counter movement to Hippies brought first suede heads, then skin heads to the fore. These were urban bad boys and girls who were the remnants of the mods. Docs soon grew a bad reputation, with the eight eyelet 1460 DM, very much part of the 60s skinhead apparel.

By the seventies British Glam rock had arrived with larger than life groups parading on stage wearing platform shoes. The androgyny unisex style of the glam rockers popstars such as Bowie, Shirley and Elton John made them a firm fixture with men and women. The Face of 'The Faces', Rod Stewart, Scottish football fan extraordinaire, was a humble boot boy at Brentford Soccer Club long before he became gravel voiced lead singer. Rod, unlike his music chum, Elton John wore platform shoes on stage to look sexy. Tiny Elton on the other hand needed the extra leverage his boots gave him to reach the piano keys on his Steinway during live performances. The bands kept on coming with Bowie the Thin White Duke (AKA Ziggy Stardust) in high camp and platforms. Kiss, Sweet, Slade, the Double G and Skyhooks all tried to out tall each other. One exception in all this Glitterati was the Electric Warrior, Marc Bolan, who preferred to wear ballet pumps to emphasise his delicate frame. The most enduring performers to climb down from their giant platforms were Queen.

In ancient Greece actors wore raised shoes to tower over their audience and the resulting swaggering gait was understood to send females into sexual ecstasy. Platform shoes were first introduced in the Middle Ages and were worn by court ladies but the fashion was short lived and fell to the prerogative of the height challenged. Paul Gadd (or the Double G) was certainly the latter and used his glitter platforms to achieve the former. He was, in his heyday, an act to catch. His platforms were specially made for his feet and allowed him to achieve quite spectacular choreography during his live shows.

More sophisticated sounds meant nightclubs and lavish clothing. As always when you need to flaunt it is necessary to accentuate the leg and platform boots and shoes were worn to outlandish lengths. During the seventies Abba , from Sweden, became the toast of the Disco. Eagerly followed and lavishly copied the outlandish costumes soon became the focus of cross dressers. Probably most people will associate the platform boot with Swedish supergroup Abba but of course the style has become an evergreen principally through, drag sartoria. A firm favourite of female impersonators and cross dressers, the longevity of the glam platform is in no short measure due to many Australian drag artists influenced by Abba. Platform sneakers made a re-appearance in early 1990s, when ravers wore them with layers of rubber (or PVC) decorated with logos or insignia.

By the mid seventies the kids from the suburbs rejected the sophistication of studio music preferring instead to peruse an alternative life style which meant back to basic rock. The new rockers were punk and wore clothes more suited to bondage. Unemployment prevailed and Thatcher's no future generation took to wear heavy-duty industrial style boots. The once ultra conservative, Dr Martens shoes became the trademark of urban youth excited by violence. Dr Klause Martens of Munich invented his air condition soles in 1945. The inspiration came from a personal injury he experienced when skiing and wanted to wear a comfortable shoe. He started to produce the air sole in 1947 but its popularity took until 1960 to peak. As in the 60s the DM became the uniform of youth harnessing the aggression of the storm trooper into the macho urban dwellers of punk to shatter the complacency of the bourgeoisie. Punks and Skinheads were not the first to do this and in the seventeenth century young men called 'footpads' terrorised the highways and byways. Soon DM's were readily adopted by all and became a youth phenomenon. Many psychologists believe the aggressive boot presented the ultimate paradox of style especially when worn by women and gay men the shoes at one level projected a macho aggressiveness, which belied the real feelings of the wearer. This was perhaps indicative of the confusion of roles and the blurring of distinctions within contemporary society.

A quiet revolution in the shoe fashion industry did take place in the late Seventies and was ironically brought about because teenagers had rejected the sophisticated sounds of the studio. The mothers of the teenagers found a new outlet for music and thanks to exercise innovators, such as Jane Fonda, a new aerobic revolution began. Out went the old sweatshirts and daks and in came designer Ath Fashion including seventies, sheek trainers or sport shoes. In the 1970 informality became intertwined with the cult of health which had a marked effect on footwear. Keeping fit set in motion a movement which affected all ages being fit and trim this meant looking and feeling good all of which could be simply associated with a new sartorial awareness. Shoes needed to match the outfit and a hungry market was created. To keep demand high, the giants like Adders, Puma and Nikka produced what were virtually fashion ranges. Each season brought new design modifications, colour combinations and logos, most of which were sales promotion ruses and had little to do with improving the efficiency of the shoe for exercise. The fad for keeping fit passed but the trainer market was established. The young enjoyed the exclusive, designer element and older people found the broad based cushioned footwear comfortable fit. Costs were cheaper than traditional footwear and fashion accompaniment such as tracksuits became popular with young and old alike. Celebrity endorsement and support from medical experts has also enhanced the trainer in its various guises. Marketing was targeted firmly towards inner city youth, mainly Afro-American, Hispanic or Asian. The shelf live of designer trainers is very short and rarely lasts more than three months. Anything the youth market deems passe, dies quickly.

The sport shoe took a major step forward when in the seventies and eighties, designer sport shoes became available. Sport's crossover, particularly from baseball, had always been popular with youth but now expensive footwear became the ubiquitous outward trapping of coolness. This was especially true in inner city ethnic populations. No street kid could be seen in anything other than the latest fashion. Prices of quality footwear rose to meet the expectation yet most kids wearing latest fashion had no visible means of income. The drug shoes for the drug culture were born. A combination of clever marketing and the desire to rebel against conservatism has assured the sneaker culture endured. Hip Hop Rappers and sports personalities extolled the virtues of being cool in them and peer pressure ensured parents parted with enormous amounts of money to get the latest styles. Truly space age shoes these ath footwear were definitely the new age shoe and incorporated many man made polymers which were not of the natural world. Trainers were often referred to as 'drug shoes' or 'Chronics'. Research indicates many drug pushers were paid with new sneakers. 'Chronic" is a slang term for a drug user and is used synonymously with 'hemp' which in street talk mean trainer. Some companies were accused of cashing in on the easy drug money picked up by inner city kids. This included using street slang as names for their wears. Some manufacturers tried to quell negative publicity by putting some of their profits back into developing inner city recreational area. Many multi-nationals were also been accused of mass producing their footwear in sweatshops, using developing countries and employing cheap labour. The term 'gang sneaker' refers to become their trademark. In Chicago for example, gang members wear 'Chucks' with the blue star changed to a different colour. In Los Angeles gangs wear Nike Cortex, whereas gangs in Wisconsin wear either red or black laces in their black sneakers. In the 1980s the sneaker became associated with the hip hop culture and break-dancers proudly were seen sporting suede topped trainers. This reached its zenith in 1987 when Run-DMC recorded My Adidas. Now it is commonplace for shoe companies to endorse recording artists to wear their footwear on stage, such is the influence they have with the buying public.

Despite an economic global down turn, the importance to look cool continued and when the English Soccer Youths savoured the Continental styles during their frequent forages to follow their national Soccer team, they soon discovered Italian designer's shoes and trainers which were proudly worn as a badge of office. The fashion caught on and no self respecting Casual of the eighties would be seen in public, unless they were wearing expensive designer footwear. Many of these kids had no visible means of income and hence association was made with criminal activities including illicit drug trafficking.

Like no other part of costume, the shoe (or its absence) remains evergreen in the minds of our youth. The cycle of fashion does have a logic however which follows a simple pattern that whatever comes next will be so different from its predecessor, as to make it obvious. Close inspection of some of the more outlandish styles also reveal a pragmatic attempt to deal with some of the practicalities of being young and doing things that kids do. So the cycle continues, always, it has to be said in tandem with the full support of the fashion industries and shoe manufacturers keen to capture the lucrative market of teenagers and below. The fastest shoes in the world today belong to skate boarders. These are the ultra cool footwear of the 21 st century. The four wheel drive footwear represent the accumulated knowledge of shoe design since the beginning of time with the new technologies of polymer chemistry. A real product of alchemy, these are truely out of this world. The humble Californian beach shoe (worn by the Beachboys) has now metamorphosed into today's sophicstcated shoes which are sported by the poperati including All Saints, Blur, Jamiroquai and the Prodigy.

Next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways
It's still rock and roll to me."

Reviewed 12/01/2016

Bessemer S (ed) 1998 Trainers London: Kyle Cathie Ltd
Cassin Scott J 1994 The illustrated encyclopaedia of costume & fashion London:Studio Vista
Cockington J 2001 Long way to the top Sydney: ABC Books
Pattison A Cawthorne N 1997 A century of shoes NSW: Universal International
Panati C 1991 Panati's parade of fads, follies and manias NY: Harper Perennial
Sims J 1999 Rock/fashion London: Omnibus Press
Takamura Z Roots of street style Tokyo: Graphic-sha Publishing Co.
Vanderbilt T Anatomy of an industry and an icon New York: The New Press

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The oldest shoe in the world

The oldest known leather shoe was dated to 3500 BC. The 5.5k year old relic was discovered by Diana Zardaryan, then a postgraduate student at Armenia’s Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography , during excavations from Areni-1 cave complex<.a> in 2010.

The perfectly preserved cow-hide shoe and shoe laces predates the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt by a millennium, and is 400 years older than Stonehenge in the UK.

The shoe was made of a single piece of leather shaped to fit the wearer's foot. It contained grass, but archaeologists remain uncertain as to whether this was to keep the foot warm or less likely to maintain the shape of the shoe. It is unknown whether the shoe belonged to a man or woman. The stable, cool and dry conditions within the cave resulted in exceptional preservation of the various objects found. The preservation was also helped by a floor covering with a thick layer of sheep dung which acted as a solid seal over the objects. Scientists were able to determine the absolute age of the shoe confirmed by the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at the University of Oxford and the University of California-Irvine Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility.

The oldest known footwear in the world, to the present time, were sandals made of plant material, that were found in a cave in the Arnold Research Cave in Missouri in the US. Other contemporaneous sandals were found in the Cave of the Warrior, Judean Desert, Israel, but these were not directly dated, and their age is based on various other associated artefacts found in the cave.

Otzi the iceman was discovered in 1991 wearing a pair of leather shoes that dated back roughly 5,300 years.

Knees and the pelvic floor muscles : Heeled shoes ?

In the past, medical condemnation of women wearing high heels has been well documented yet in light of an absence of independent cause and effect evidence, this assumption is totally without foundation, based at best, on anecdotal evidence flamed by misogynistic nonsense. Independent research has confirmed the turning effects on the knee caused by wearing higher heels was significantly less than when flat sensible heels were worn. Whilst these findings alone, do not confirm heel styles cause knee problems, wearing a heeled shoe may reduce adverse turning effects on the knees in women susceptible to osteoarthrosis (arthritis).

Research from Italy reported in the European Urology scientific journal suggested wearing heeled shoes could improve pelvic floor muscle tone. The study was undertaken by urologist Dr Maria Cerruto at University of Verona and the results indicated subjects with their feet held at a 15-degree angle to the ground (the equivalent of a two-inch heel) demonstrated less electrical activity in their pelvic muscles and to no disadvantage to their posture. The research involved measuring electrical activity in the pelvic muscles of women when they held their feet at different angles. Cerruto studied 66 volunteers aged under 50. She discovered women who held their feet at a 15-degree angle to the ground, the equivalent of a 7cm (2 inch) heel, showed up to 15% less electrical activity in their pelvic muscles. The results suggested the muscles are more relaxed when women wore higher heels, increasing their strength and ability to contract.

Pelvic floor muscles are an essential component of the female body but become weakened as a result of pregnancy and aging. The muscle group provides vital support to the pelvic organs, which include the bladder, bowels and uterus control and toned pelvic floor muscles play a major role in sexual arousal and continence. Women of all ages are recommended to make pelvic floor muscle exercises a regular routine but many do not comply. The researchers hope wearing heeled shoes can improve this outcome and in some cases, prevent the need for active exercise.

The association between heel height and increased pelvic tone has a long linage (though oft forgotten) and was actively practiced in the Orient with foot binding. The adult, Lotus foot (lotus is a reference to the vulva) was three inches long and the result of tightly binding the feet from aged four to eighteen. The foot was confined to a strong convex soled boot to ensure toes were held towards the heel and the resulting soft tissue contracture created an exaggerated heightened arch or equinus foot i.e. the heel sitting higher than the ball of the foot. Similar but less severe effects are thought to be involved in some people, with prolonged wear of higher heeled shoes.

Confined in this way over one and a half decades the skin surface on the sole of the foot became hypersensitive and was used as a second vagina for safe sex. Alteration to the gait by walking on smaller (elevated) feet was thought to cause changes to the labia forming more sensitive folds. Increased pelvic muscle tone ensured the vagina was tight for life and of course in a culture and belief set where procreation was a sacred worship, sexual arousal was enhanced.

For over a thousand years Lotus feet were looked upon as the most erotic part of a woman's body, and the delicate slippers or bootees worn to cover them were no less delectable. Chinese husbands respectfully coveted their wives' tiny Lotus shoes and would sometimes display them on a small plate (with room to spare) to show off the foot size. Foot binding fell out of favour when China became a republic in 1912 and had virtually disappeared in most provinces by the time Mao Tse-Tung officially banned the practice in 1949.

The 18th century fashion for women wearing small heeled shoes was inspired by the bound feet of the Orient and ironically became a vogue in the Regency Period.

Cerruto MA., Vedovi E., and Mantovani W 2008 Women Pay Attention to Shoe Heels: Besides Causing Schizophrenia They Might Affect Your Pelvic Floor Muscle Activity!! European Urology Volume 53, Issue 5, Pages 1094–1095.