To Birkenstock or Not To Birkenstock, That Is The Question


Whether to bear the slings and arrows of outrageous mockery, or end it by wearing fashionable shoes.

A long-time wearer of Birkenstocks (I have bad feet, I swear), and staunch individualist when it comes to fashion sensibility (some might say insensibility), I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I have apparently been fashion forward. Birkenstocks are reportedly the most popular summer footwear.

Not everyone finds Birkenstocks comfortable, which is completely understandable. If that's the case for you, substitute Crocs, Tevas or any other comfortable but iffy fashion choice, for the purposes of this conversation. I'm outlining my top considerations for your footwear this summer.

• How about ending the heartache and natural shocks your flesh is heir to when wearing five-inch heels? Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. Let's face it, unless you're making bank on your appearance, are the resultant bunions, corns and other maladies, all the names of which I can't even remember, worth it? Nothing interferes with work or fun more than being physically uncomfortable.

• Will your potential lovers scorn you for wearing Birkenstocks? Must we grunt and sweat in patent leather to be adored? I hate to admit that when I was dating I did not wear my Birkenstocks on a first date. When possible, I tried to work them into the conversation to ease the shock of the second date when I planned to break them out. As far as I know, no one dumped me for my shoes. And if they did, does superficial come to mind?

•  Do you aspire to be brave or cowardly? Being brave means following your own instincts, preferences and beliefs. Being a runner, I admit, makes it easier to be brave when it comes to shoes, since healthy feet are essential. But really, do you have to run, do yoga, or dance, to want to have healthy feet? You walk don't you? Sometimes you just have to resolve to man up and do what feels good, be authentic, even if it's not gorgeous.

• Are your great enterprises dependent on footwear? I've never heard of anyone who couldn't be productive at work or at home because their shoes were unattractive. While it's true that when we look good, we tend to feel good, there are some limits. Think about that dress that makes you look like a million bucks but is so tight you have trouble breathing normally. What about the wonderful but oh so heavy earrings that you know are slowly but surely making the holes in your ears look like your Aunt Sally's used to look. I say end the heartache of the flesh and be comfortable and productive.

I know most of our film and television heroines wear fantastic shoes. And I'm all about aspirational goals like being a hot New York writer like Carrie Bradshaw, crazy and all. But seriously, are those dangerously high platform heels really value added for you? After all, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, will anyone remember our shoes? Or our sins of fashion?