Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Beauty and the Feet

I received a telephone message from a friend asking, roughly, "Guess what's happening?"

The answer turned out to be, roughly, "All the women in Manhattan are taking their clothes off!"

This is a somewhat hyperbolic reference to the arrival of spring for real in NYC and the annual female rite of stowing winter clothes in the storage bin that many New Yorkers have in the basement of their buildings and unfurling the flimsy sundresses and sandals that are approved attire from here to Labor Day.

All of which I certainly applaud, if currently from somewhat of a distance.

I would also add the briefest cautionary fashion note: Which would, of course, refer to the perceived license provided by warm spring breezes to women of all ages to begin wearing what are called strappy sandals. The sad truth, however, is that this priviledge should be reserved only for a select few--typically (but not exclusively) those under twenty-five.

Why, you ask?

This, of course, is a batch of fast-wilting celery:

I had hoped, because it would have illustrated my point more effectively, that I would find a similarly withered bundle of old asparagus in the back of the fridge, behind Big Maria perhaps, but had no luck.

The point is, most women's feet look like hell. Or, more to the point, they look like bundles of withered asparagus. Years of ramming them into pointy-toed, high-heeled pumps has left many women's feet a jumble of bunions, callouses and re-arranged bones. Hardly the thing one wants to see on a nice summer day.

The words Hey Quasimodo--can you put your shirt back on? jump to mind.

The irony here is that the shoe manufacturers who do such a good job marketing the strappy sandals to women are the same ones whose winter shoes make those same sandals such a bad idea. It appears to be an irony lost on many. Women are capable of massive acts of self-delusion in the name of fashion. I mean, doesn't every girl want to be Carrie Bradshaw? Sadly, many are called but few are chosen.

I've painted a few feet in my day, and the best ones are like the Eiffel Tower--a consummate and beguiling (although feet are not particularly my thing) blend of mechanics and aesthetics. The rest of them should be covered up to one degree or another.

Here's a tip: The arch, ankle and heel of the foot typically survive the rigors of pointed pumps without harm. So look at a bundle of old asparagus and determine, as objectively as you can, if your foot looks just like it. If so, choose a shoe that has a mostly-closed toe-box but open arch and instep, perhaps with a sassy strap or two near the ankle, and get the feeling of wearing sandals without abusing your fellow humans.

Here's another: Wedges almost always make you look like an idiot.

Speaking of looking like an idiot, here's a first-look at my evolving self-portrait:

A couple of thoughts: First, the medium is acrylic on paper. These are two sheets of roughly textured watercolor paper held together, only for the moment, by blue painters' tape. The assembly is stapled to a black wall (thus what appears to be a black frame). When the thing is done I like the idea of displaying it by just attaching the two sheets to the wall, each with a push-pin on each corner.

I, by the way, have nice looking feet. Bit of a bump on the outside of my big toe, but other than that, pretty nice.


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