You ask me why I need
Thirty-two pairs of shoes to wear
You seem to ask me why I got a lot of things
It's just a chick thing
You oughta let it go
— No Secrets, "That's What Girls Do"
In the world of fiction, nearly all women adore shoes. Not only that, they judge people by the shoes they wear, have whole closets full of them, know every single designer, and no matter how expensive or painful to wear, they simply must
have the latest styles for the season. Don't question this; this is simply one of those Women's Mysteries
that men will never understand.
For some reason, whenever a woman's massive shoe collection is shown onscreen, they are always high heels like in the picture, as if a woman would never own one or more pairs of sneakers, flip-flops, ballet flats, or anything else without heels. It's probably just that high heels drive home the femininity of this trope (compare, on this point, Mars and Venus Gender Contrast
). Alternately, it may be because heels tend to be more glamorous, leading to at least a few impulse buys.
There's also the fact that women's fashion is considerably more complex than men's. A man can do just fine with a single pair of dark dress shoes and a pair or two of casual sneakers; anything more is at his discretion. For a woman, a dress or skirt shorter then ankle length needs matching footwear or else the visual elements will clash. And when that dress can be just one of a huge range of styles and colors, this demands a wide range of footwear options to go with them. And she would still need sneakers for physical activity, sandals or flats for leisure, etc. Put simply, women's fashion needs more shoe options.
Of course plenty of women are not that interested in fashion, or otherwise dress to let them roll around in a few cute but comfy shoes most of the time. Unfortunately, any woman in fiction not interested in owning three dozen pairs of shoes is painted as a tomboy
regardless of her reasoning.
Compare Distracted by the Luxury
, Unlimited Wardrobe
, Girls Love Stuffed Animals
Contrast Does Not Like Shoes
. It should be noted that the fetishization of bare feet is also usually female, at least in the media.
Is, naturally, a Double Standard
, but it has become so pervasive that few try to question it.
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- Heineken used it in this commercial. Then the Brazilian arm of the company backfired by invoking this trope in a cross-promotion - during the 2014 UEFA Champions League final, a shoe sale website would offer discounts so women wouldn't bother their significant others.
Anime and Manga
- An odd example in Blood+. Diva, while killing a bunch of people, takes interest in one guy's sneakers and steals them after killing him.
- Averted in Girls und Panzer with Yukari's mother Yoshiko, who, in the fifth OVA, is said to have told her, in response to her collecting military footwear, that as you only have one pair of feet, you only need one pair of shoes.
- Veronica from the Archie Comics buys a lot of shoes.
- One story manages to combine the trope with Does Not Like Shoes to comic effect. Veronica's father notices that Veronica has developed a habit of leaving the house barefoot. He stops her one day on her way out to ask her why she buys so many shoes.
- In an early Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic, Buffy's deadbeat dad rants about all the things he hates about living in a house full of women. The list is long, but he mentions shoes twice. When Buffy points this out, he replies, "You have twice as many shoes as you need!"
- Cinderella from Fables.
- Mimi Pond, in her book Secrets of the Powder Room, in the spirit of mutual understanding, lets men in on the inner workings of the female mind - much of which involves shoes. She relates a sexual fantasy involving a shoe salesman, the climax involving his giving her a 50% discount.
- Underground Comics artist Leslie Sternbergh made a comic about this topic where she claimed she was worse than Imelda Marcos in this way.
- Mary Jane Watson collects shoes like crazy, despite her usually limited finances. Her collection includes everything from boots to sandals to ballet flats to high heels to platforms to some 15 pairs of Converse All-Stars.
- Betsy Taylor, the main character of MaryJanice Davidson's Betsy the Vampire Queen series is far more interested in shoes and sales than in the fact that she recently became Queen of the Vampires.
- In The Lollipop Shoes, the sequel to Chocolat, Zozie de l'Alba has a whole collection of fabulous shoes that enchant and seduce, including the eponymous Lollipop Shoes. Anouk is also shown to be susceptible to their charms.
- Discussed in Love in a Nutshell where Kate comments that despite being a guy, Matt somehow has more shoes than her.
- Used as part of a joking explanation in Unseen Academicals of the phrase "a lie can run around the world before the truth has its boots on": since Truth is Beauty, rather than Handsomeness, Truth must be a woman. And according to this trope, any woman in a position to choose what shoes to wear would have a lot of them to choose from.
- A Mage's Power: Tiza owns many more pairs of shoes than she truly needs. She insists they all have practical, mercenary, purposes. Kasile turns her from hostile to friendly by complimenting her shoes.
Live Action TV
- Sex and the City made Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik household names. Carrie was shown to be in deep debt because of her collection of hundreds of shoes costing several hundred bucks a pop, and in one episode Charlotte came across a shoe salesman with a foot fetish who loved her feet so much he gave her these fancy sandals for free. And many, many references to shoes being this kind of holy sacrament throughout the show's run.
- Jen of The IT Crowd loves shoes enough that she is willing to ruin her feet for them.
- In an episode of Leverage, Nate talks about what his team did with the "shattering amounts of money" they made bankrupting a corrupt corporation. Sophie "bought a frightening number of shoes."
Sophie: There's something wrong with you.
Eliot: That's what I said!
- Brought up later when Parker has to play a part for a con, something Sophie usually does:
Sophie: Go to Nate's storage cupboard. You're gonna find a sexy little minidress and my emergency Jimmy Choos.
Sophie: Shoes, Parker!
- In Bones every female character is seen wearing a pair of heels in at least one scene per episode.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: At least Buffy and Cordelia have one thing in common.
- Also the Big Bad for Season 3, Physical God Glory, who takes the form of a self-obsessed blonde female. At one point Buffy when goes to kick Glory in the face, Glory grabs her ankle and compliments Buffy on her shoes.
- Half of an entire scene in the Angel episode Billy (an episode about misogyny, domestic violence and women being victimized) is devoted to Cordelia and Lilah bantering about shoes.
- In a later episode, Cordelia threatens Eve thus: Get out of that chair and I will feed you those Manolo Blahniks. (pauses) Which are stunning, by the way.
- Cordelia is introduced in Buffy the Vampire Slayer saying that she would kill to live in L.A. That close to that many shoes...
- Amanda Pierce and, to a lesser extent DJ, in The Latest Buzz. Even Na´ve Everygirl Rebbecca Harper falls under the spell of a fabulous pair of mood-changing red shoes in the Wizard of Oz homage episode "The Wonderful Wizard of Buzz Issue".
- In an episode of Hannah Montana, Miley's dad offers to buy her shoes if she will stop seeing Jake.
- In That's So Raven, Raven gets a bad grade on her art project because it's a collage about shoes. Her art teacher says that's all she ever makes.
- One Caroline In The City episode has Caroline out of commission due to a bad back, so Del and Richard step in to finish the strip for her. Unfortunately, Caroline can't come up with an idea to give them, so they create their own strip whose punch line is nothing more than "Women can never have enough shoes", which they think is hilarious. Caroline thanks them for helping her, although she secretly hates the strip.
- The punchline for the strip Del and Richard made was "I have too many shoes!" and the point was men got the joke but women didn't. At the end of the episode, they showed Daphne from Frasier reading the strip and not understanding the punchline. When she showed it to Niles, he got it immediately and thought it was hysterical.
- An episode of Coupling has Steve ranting, "Why do women have so many shoes? Do they have extra feet we don't know about?"
- Burn Notice: Fiona is obsessed with shoes. In particular, in "Entry Point" she is constantly distracted by the client of the week's large collection of shoes (he specializes in knock-offs). Which is a bit ironic, given that she is quick to go barefoot as soon as she is relaxing.
- Lily from How I Met Your Mother is a subversion of this trope. She loves shoes but unlike the usual examples, she only likes boots, no high heels.
- In the episode of Black Books where they go on vacation, Bernard and Manny force Fran to pick two pairs of shoes to bring, rather than the twenty or so she wanted to pack.
Fran: Those are my slow dancing mules! What if we get invited to a boat party by drug dealers?
- In the 90's Sitcom Cybill Cybill's best friend Maryanne has a walk in closet filled with nothing but shoes.
- Sally on 3rd Rock from the Sun.
- Penny from The Big Bang Theory has a large collection of shoes, despite being in a poor financial situation.
- Emma from Hustle. After their first big score, her brother Sean comments that she can buy enough Jimmy Choos to outfit an octopus.
- Scrubs: Shoe shopping...
- A more subtle example is when Elliot loses everything she owns when someone steals the moving van she was living out of at the time. At the end of the episode, she's gushing to JD about it.
Elliot(sobbing): There was all my favourite records... my very first love letters from high school... (Wails hysterically) and my SHOOOOOOEEEEEESSSS!
- One of the earliest episodes from Pimp My Ride had a girl named Nile get her car pimped, and they installed an automated shoe rack in the trunk, with several pairs of brand new shoes for her. Upon showing the new car to her friends, they reacted with great enthusiasm, as expected, but seemed even more enthusiastic about the new shoes than the pimped out car.
- In the Carol Channing episode of The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy buys some stylish but excruciating shoes that are really too small for her. She continues to wear them after Kermit admires them.
- In one episode of Desperate Housewives, Susan finds out that Orson has been supplying Mike with the drugs he's addicted to and storms into his office to confront him about it—pausing just long enough to compliment the patient he's with on her cute shoes.
- From Criminal Minds. In "From Childhood's Hour", Morgan cites that a woman is definitely depressed because she only has four pairs of shoes. Reid doesn't get it. At the end of episode Reid is talking to JJ, Prentiss, and Garcia about it. JJ comments that even 10 pairs isn't enough, and Prentiss says that reminds her... she needs new boots.
- JAG: The trope is lampshaded in one conversation between Harm and Mac in the third season episode "Vanished":
Mac: In one way or another, we're all searching for something.
Harm: Oh, yeah? What are you searching for?
Mac': What every woman wants: a great career, a good man and comfortable shoes, lots and lots of them.
- Comes up quite frequently in Cathy.
- Sara from Zits has this trait sometimes. She once got deeply offended by Jeremy when he failed to notice her new boots (but subverting the "men never notice shoes" part of the trope, when Jeremy claims this he asks Hector what's new about Sara. "Besides the boots?") but they made up when she realized that he's more enraptured with the nuances of her face.
- Parodied in The Far Side: a woman is on a date with a man wearing ridiculous clown shoes, dumping him because "I judge a man by the shoes he wears."
- In a Pearls Before Swine strip, Pig opines that men and women are Not So Different. Rat immediately shoots the idea down:
Rat:[to a random woman] Excuse me, miss. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
Rat: I rest my case.
Woman: No wait. Those are just the brown ones...
Stand Up Comedy
- One of Tim Allen's routines has him asking his wife why she needs 19 pairs of black shoes. Her response?
"You stupid f*** er! Those are strap-backs, spikes, cobbie-cuddlers, espadrilles, flats, pumps, patent leathers, spectators, argh, argh, argh!"
- In one routine, Ardal O'Hanlon notes the oft-contested hypothesis that women have a higher threshold for pain than men. He theorizes that this is because no matter what is happening to her, there's always part of a woman's brain that is thinking about shoes.
- In Star Munchkin, players may be faced with the Bionic Bimbo. She's a fairly formidable opponent, and will fight you... unless you give her shoes (i.e., a "footwear" item.) She will even pay you handsomely for the shoes, with 3 Treasures.
- At the end , Glinda, with visible difficulty/pain, says to Elphaba "They're just shoes!" Said shoes are the infamous ruby slippers.
- Glinda also has shelves full of shoes in her dorm with Elphaba during Popular.
- Averted with Dorothy, who doesn't even want the ruby slippers anymore and would be happy to give them to Elphaba...except for the fact that they won't come off her feet, despite the fact that she's been trying to get them off for days...
- Dragon Age: Origins is Playing with a Trope.
- Leliana is obsessed with shoes. Not only are shoes the perfect gift item for her, one of her dialogs is nothing but her rambling about her obsession with shoes. The player, regardless of gender, can either tell her to shut up or start gushing about shoes as well... making this a gendeflip should the player be male.
- No other woman shares her obsession, as Morrigan wants nothing to do with any of Leliana's fashion advice. One can only guess what else Marjolaine would be talking about if she weren't hunting Leliana, but her disparaging Leliana's state when she first came to Ferelden hints that she's just as into fashion as Leliana is. Perhaps it's an Orlesian thing.
- Gendeflipped with Zevran, who gushes a fair bit about these fabulous boots, although maybe that's more to do with his leather fetish.
- Bethany Hawke in Dragon Age II, though not to the same extent as Leliana. She happily gushes over Orlesian fashion if you bring her to the Mark of the Assassin DLC.
- Cinderella's rooms in the second Dark Parables game include a massive walk-in closet filled with nothing but shoes. Of course, seeing as it's Cinderella, this is par for the course.
- In each level of Ms. 'Splosion Man there is a well-hidden pair of shoes that serves as a bonus item.
- A Hidden Depths example with Sakura Kasugano in Ultra Street Fighter IV. She states in her Arcade win-quote against Poison that she likes her shoes.
- The fourth asdfmovie features this exchange:
Honey, do you like my new shoes? Husband: You are a chair
, darling. Wife: I can dream, Harold!!
- Ashlynn Ella of Ever After High's defining trait, which is expected since she's the daughter of Cinderella.
- I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space had the heroine distraught when she couldn't break the laws of physics to fill their spaceship with all the shoes she's bought.
- Mercedes Nieves of Other People's Business exemplifies this trope - although she occasionally puts her knowledge of shoes to good use.
- Vicki Fox apparently owns several pairs of shoes, but...
- In Dumbing of Age, Walky believes that only girls own more than one pair of shoes, and takes a great amount of male pride in only owning one pair himself. However, it turns out he's the only one who thinks like this, and is even told by macho dudebro Joe that he's being ridiculous and insecure.
- This is also averted by Sierra, who Does Not Like Shoes and has been barefoot since the sixth grade (at least that's her best guess).
- Both Catwoman and Harley Quinn pack huge amounts of shoes to go on vacation in Li'l Gotham.
- Perhaps because she's so short, The Nostalgia Chick has an obsession with wearing high heeled boots everywhere. Even when fighting in a frigging brawl.
- Blanche Ingram from The Autobiography of Jane Eyre. She's wearing Louboutins at one party. The high heels are uncomfortable even though she's sitting, so she decided to take them off. She tweets about shopping for shoes, too.
- The Youtube show Shoe Hoarders, where wealthy women (ranging from golddigging socialites to independent entrepreneurs) show off their massive shoe collections.
- Imelda Marcos, wife of deposed Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, left thousands of pairs of shoes behind when they were thrown out of the country. It gets even more disturbing when a few women on TV/radio/etc. have commented what a horrible person Imelda Marcos was... but ooh, look at all her shoes! In an interview for British television, Imelda Marcos defiantly asserted that of course there were shoes in her closet, she didn't have any skeletons to hide in there.
- Type in Imelda Marcos' name in Google, and the first suggestion that comes up is "Imelda Marcos shoes". The third webpage that comes up, after her Wikipedia page and her Biography.com page (both of which mention her love of shoes in the first paragraph), is a Daily Mail article about her shoe collection, which had been damaged by flooding and termites.
- During the Romanian rebels' show trial against their former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife, Elena, in 1989, which ended in their execution, Elena's very comprehensive collection of expensive shoes was used as an evidence of the pair's illegal gathering of wealth. This is quite an understandable sticking point: sometime in The Eighties Ceauşescu decided to pay off all of Romania's foreign debt and decided to do so by exporting everything that could be exported. Owning expensive shoes while ordinary citizens queued up for food and suffered severe shortages amidst one of the worst economic collapses in the Communist bloc can come across as a mite bit insensitive to say the least...
- When the European Union and later USA introduced sanctions and travel bans against Robert Mugabe's government after the fraud-laden violence of the 2002 elections, Mugabe's wife Grace was included in the list of people who weren't allowed to travel to Europe, with one MEP commenting that this will stop Grace Mugabe going on her shopping trips in the face of catastrophic poverty blighting the people of Zimbabwe.
- Ron Perlman was once asked why he does so many B and C-grade movies. His response? "What can I say? My wife likes shoes..."
- Kellie Pickler. The woman even wrote a song about it. Yet she sometimes performs without them.
- Cracked statistically proves that, to some extent, this is Truth in Television
- Naoko Takeuchi has mentioned that she is obsessed with shoes, made evident by such a huge presence of Combat Stilettos in Sailor Moon.
- Hong Kong actress and singer Josie Ho Chu-Yi has over 300 pairs of shoes.
- Kylie Minogue's instagram is essentially photos of whatever shoes she's wearing that day.
- Female professional wrestler AJ Lee has a huge collection of Converse All Star sneakers, and she wears them both inside and outside the ring.
- CÚline Dion once told Ellen DeGeneres that she had over 3000 pairs of shoes.
- Reversed in the online community of "Sneakerheads" and "Hypebeasts", who are mostly adolescent males, their obsession with sneakers (particularly Air Jordans and Nike S Bs) reaches Imelda Marcos status in some cases.