At any given moment a man knows exactly how many pairs of shoes are in his closet, usually between five and eight. Just ask him. Now, ask a woman that question, and she will start to hum, roll her eyes upwards as if seeking divine inspiration, want to know if that includes boots and shoes she's never worn or maybe only once, and then throw up her hands and say, "gee, I don't know - I guess, somewhere between 50 and 100? Maybe more?" Why do we have so many shoes that we can't keep track of them? Because we can't stop buying them, because we love them. We love wearing them; we love trying them on; and we really love buying them. Buying a new pair of shoes is instant gratification. You don't have to go into a dressing room and take off your clothes in front of an unforgiving, full-length mirror. You just simply slip off your shoes, slip into the new pair, walk up and down a few times in front of a little mirror that only shows your legs from your knees down, and you know instantly whether or not you are perfect for each other.

The first pair of shoes I fell in love with was Moira Shearer's enchanted ballet slippers in the film "The Red Shoes," in which a ballerina literally dances herself to death in the most gorgeous pair of red satin ballet slippers I had ever seen. And then I saw "Cinderella," and I, like millions of other little girls my age, was utterly and completely smitten - not with Prince Charming, but with those shoes. I knew from that moment on that I would spend the rest of my life looking for that perfect pair of shoes, those magical glass slippers that would transform me into a princess. Who needs Prince Charming when you can have those shoes?

Right over my desk is a picture of a little girl in a flowing summer dress in a field of sunflowers surrounded by shoes of every shape and color. Above her beaming, upturned face is written, "If the shoe fits, buy it in every color." And every time I look at her I smile. While most men do not understand the shoe-obsessed women in their lives, some men definitely get it, like the hottest young shoe designer in Paris, Christian Louboutin, with his signature red soles. Some very famous and very royal feet, such as Catherine Deneuve and Princess Caroline of Monaco, respectively, slip into Louboutin's fabulous creations. It all began for Louboutin when he fell in love with a pair of high-heeled shoes while visiting a museum as a child. He became so obsessed with those shoes that he drew them all over his school books, papers and desk. Monsieur Louboutin's obsession with shoes is actually not an anomaly in western civilization. In fact, the original, shoe-obsessed sex was not the feminine sex at all.

Throughout most of the history of western civilization, shoes were far more important to a gentleman's attire than to a lady's. From the Middle Ages' doublets and hose through the Colonial period's knee breeches and stockings, a gentleman's legs and feet were very much on display, while a lady's feet were barely visible under her voluminous skirts. Even as late as the 19th Century men were still extremely particular about their footwear. In Charles Dickens' beloved novel "David Copperfield" the title character dons a pair of new boots several sizes too small to impress his lady love with the fashionably small size of his feet.

Walt Disney adapted his screen version of Cinderella from a tale written in 1697 by a Frenchman named Charles Perrault; however, the original version of the story, by the Countess of Aulnoy, who clearly knew her audience, was very different. In that version, Cinderella does not go to the ball in a pair of glass slippers, but in a tiny pair of red velvet, pearl-encrusted, high-heeled mules. Try running to catch the last pumpkin out of town in a pair of those without losing one on the way!! She and Prince Charming never even meet at the ball, much less share a dance. The Prince finds that perfect little shoe the next day and falls hopelessly in love - not with the owner of the shoe, but with the shoe itself, becoming so obsessed with it that he stops eating, sleeps with it under his pillow and refuses to leave his room. Realizing that this peculiar relationship is not likely to produce any heirs to the throne, the desperate King and Queen decide to act. In the hope that their son will transfer his affections from the object itself to the owner of the object, it is they who launch the kingdom-wide search for the mysterious lady who lost the shoe. In the end, they meet, fall in love, marry, and Cinderella presumably began filling her closet with pairs and pairs of glorious little mules, much to their mutual delight -- which only goes to prove that if a girl wants to live happily ever after, she really only needs one Prince Charming in her life, but she can never have too many shoes.

About the Author:

Marie-Thérèse, a qualified image consultant and member of the Association of Image Consultants International, is the owner of French Touch Image Consulting LLC. Her Company is dedicated to helping each and every woman get in touch with her "Inner Parisienne," that chic, sophisticated woman inside who always looks her best, because she knows how to put herself together for any occasion and how to do more with less. frenchtouchimage@comcast.net; http//www.frenchtouchimage.com


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