Fashion in the City: I'm a Shoe Addict

My name is Melissa and I'm addicted to shoes. How do you know if you have a shoe-shopping addiction? Take a few moments to consider the following. Have you ever lied about a shoe purchase to friends and family? Have you ever experienced shortness of breath at the sight of a shoe sale? Do you consider a pair of shoes marked down from $750 to $450 a great deal? Do you talk to your shoes as if they were people? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then welcome to the club. We embrace you with open arms and empty wallets.

If you are not a member, let me try to explain. The first inkling I had that I might have a "shoe problem" was when I moved into my first Manhattan apartment after college. My rent left me with little to no extra income for shopping and dining out, so every penny had to be accounted for. I started off with every intention of "budgeting wisely" as my parents had instructed.

But then I saw "them." It was like destiny, being struck by a bolt of lightning, love at first sight. They were a pair of black patent-leather, pointy-toe pumps with a stacked wooden heel, and they cost hundreds of dollars. They spoke to me. They didn't say, "We're too expensive for you." They purred, "Hey, stranger, what's a fashionable girl like you doing without a shoe like us?" They were way above my price range, but my common sense evaporated and what I call "retail reasoning" kicked in. They were expensive, yes, but they were an investment, right? I mean, my parents wanted me to think about my future, and here, right in front of me, was a pair of amazing shoes that I knew I had a future with. I bought them and ate beans and rice for a month. That was the beginning.

"A woman with a shoe habit is like a man with a gambling problem" was the warning that my fiancé received from his friends when he confided in them that he suspected I was a compulsive shoe shopper. (He married me anyway.) But what constitutes a true shoe habit? I mean, don't all women go a little crazy from time to time with the shopping? Isn't it part of being the changeable, moody, mysterious, adorable, amusing, multitasking, fashionable, stressed-out females that we are?

The truth is, since obsessive shoe lovers tend to stick together, my perspective may be skewed. We enable each other. We say things like, "Yes, you should use your emergency credit card for those $450 Jimmy Choo strappy sandals," or, "Of course, it's perfectly okay to hide your purchases in the bushes until you can retrieve them when your husband won't notice." All is fair in love and shoes. When I get together with my shoe friends, any excuse is a reason to go shopping. New boyfriends, recent breakups, promotions, Groundhog Day. For us there is never an occasion that doesn't warrant a trip to the shoe department.

What's the allure? There's just something about a new pair of shoes that makes me feel good about myself. They have this effect even when I'm wearing a humdrum outfit or my "fat" pants. I feel sexier. I feel confident and fashionable. With a great pair of shoes I even feel skinnier sometimes. I don't want to be mushy, but when I buy a pair of shoes from my favorite designer, it's like reuniting with an old friend. And it always feels like we should have gotten together a lot sooner.

I'm addicted to shoes, but I don't think it's a problem '- I think it's my calling. I deserve beautiful shoes. We all do. Besides, giving up shoe shopping would be like giving up a part of myself. I'm good at it. It's a God-given talent. It would be like Picasso not painting or Beethoven not composing. What a waste that would be.

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