Something strange is afoot in the arrangement of feet in print ads. Lately, in way too many ads, womodels (that’s a hybrid! I just made it up!) are pictured standing in a way that makes me want to kick them behind the knees. They stand with their toes pointed inward, sometimes with their feet rolled slightly outward. Like this:
Basic toe turn, Half and half (both, Bloomingdale’s)
This foot arrangement smacks of little girls playing dress-up in their mothers’s closets. No doubt you’re familiar with the scenario: Mommy has trunks and closets full of colorful floral lace-trimmed vintage frocks, wide-brimmed floppy hats, triple-strand ropes of large faux pearls, dainty white wrist gloves, and spectator pumps, and little Penelope, her lips smeared with bright red lipstick that looks like she just gnawed a gazelle to death, comes teetering and tottering into the living room where Mommy and Daddy are entertaining. And because little Penelope is only five years old and can’t stand on her own two feet very well, her knees and ankles turn in so she looks adorably pigeon-toed. It’s awkward, but cute.
But it’s not so cute when Penelope’s old enough to stand on her own two feet, not only literally (of course) but figuratively. This position screams, “I am still a little girl! Do not let these grown-up clothes fool you!” It whines, “I want a swirly lollipop … and I want it NOW!” and then wails inconsolably into the fluff of a kitten when denied its demands.
And before you write to me and say, “It’s just advertising! Real women don’t stand like that! Besides, it’s the shoes!”, please be advised that I’ve seen actual, real live women standing this way. And in flats. Usually it’s when they’re talking to boys, trying to be cute and demure and small. I’ve even seen it on women who otherwise look confident and assertive: from the hips up, they’re all business, but below that, the feet betray them. I half expect little giggly girlish hip sways, forefinger nails gripped between incisors, as Penelope decides if she wants a blue or red Sno-Cone.
When you’re old enough to wear women’s clothes of your own and are confident enough to stand up on your own, don’t you think you should be able to stand like you mean it and not like you’re denying you’re not a toddler anymore?