Friday, November 6, 2009

Extreme Foot Fetish

A female colleague of mine from Australia who has lived in Beijing for about four years, still cannot understand why Chinese people take off their shoes when they go into their home. Even though I try to explain that Chinese people, or even Japanese and Koreans for that matter, want to keep their homes clean by taking off their shoes at the door, she doesn't agree.

Her reasoning is that, especially if she is dressed up, shoes compete her outfit, and going into someone's home and taking off her shoes only to wear slippers will ruin the whole effect.

I get that it is dirty outside and people don't want to have their friends traipsing in a myriad of germs when they visit. So buy a doormat. I don't want to walk around and dirty my socks on people's floors. I also don't want to wear a pair of old slippers unlikely to complement my clothes in any way that someone else has been wearing, full of germs from wherever their socks or smelly feet have been and then transferring rogue bacteria from the unknown previous slipper wearer onto my socks or feet and then back into my shoes and eventually into my home. UUggghhh. It's disgusting.
We had a lively discussion about this pressing style issue online, which led to her real reason for wanting to wear shoes in the house -- her vanity.

You just cannot feel sexy sliding around in socks or slippers. You can't put your hand on your hip and laugh out loud wearing socks. Dancing salsa, samba, or to old 80s tunes in socks, quite simply, sucks.
I spend a significant amount of time and money shopping for shoe, matching an outfit and completing a look, removing one's shoes is like taking off a shirt and putting on pajamas.

While she must have an extensive (and sexy) shoe collection, I cannot help but think that after all her time in China she doesn't accept this cultural difference?

My argument was that shoes are dirty. Period. The roads are dirty, covered in all kinds of crap. But she seemed to think that wiping them on a doormat was good enough.

And what about letting your feet rest from being suffocated in shoes?

In the end she agreed to disagree. I don't think I want to visit her place anytime soon. And I don't think she'd like to be subjected to wearing slippers at my place either.


ks said...

a difference in opinion and custom. they have their own good reasons. wearing your socks may protect you from being 'infected' while wearing a used slipper.

Jessica said...

Well, you can solve it the way people use to do in Sweden...

We bring our "comleting shoes" in a bag and change from outdoor shoes to indoor. No dirt from roads and no unsexy slippers... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Not her house, not her rules. Simple as that. Doesn't have to be a cultural issue. If she insisted that I wear my shoes in her home, and unless I have a medical reason, then I'm obligated to do so.