Growing up, society tells girls that women are meant to wear heels. If a woman wears sneakers after a certain age, they are considered a tomboy and somehow less feminine. This was a very hard concept for me to overcome, as I was more self-conscious growing up and always tried to fit in with what was normal. At events like school dances, I would force myself to wear heels because that was what everyone wore. No matter how much my feet ached, I would wear heels because that was what I was supposed to be wearing.
As I got older and started to come to terms with my personal style, the idea of fashion norms started to become foreign to me. Why should I be restricted to a certain footwear just because of the gender I happen to be? Once I began questioning the standards society put on women’s style, my eyes opened to new forms of fashion regardless of the gender they were meant for. This is when my love for sneakers started to flourish, and I grew into the sneakerhead I am today.
Being a female sneakerhead is not easy, and comes with its fair share of problems. The biggest struggle all women face when going sneaker shopping is the idea of “shrink it and pink it.” Sneaker companies are stuck in the mindset that all women want to wear exceedingly girly apparel. Do not get me wrong—I love almost anything pink and sparkly— but that doesn’t mean that I also won’t rock a pair of classic Air Force 1 Sneakers. The main problem is that there isn’t the same selection for women when it comes to sneakers. Although buying shoes made for boys is an option, they do not always have the same craftsmanship at a lower price.
It is also extremely intimidating shopping for sneakers as a woman. The sneaker community is male-dominated and therefore can come across as slightly domineering when shopping at a store with an all-male staff and clientele. As stated before, many sneakers are made for men, therefore when a woman shops at a store made solely for sneakers, most employees cannot help but come across as more condescending.
Although the sneaker game is not as accepting of women, it has started to change over the years. With collaborations such as with Rihanna and Puma, the door has opened for women creators and lovers of shoes who have not felt as respected in a male-dominated world. Rihanna designs shoes for women while still being able to maintain comfortable, chic attire, something male designers seem to forget.
It is time for women to leave behind the judgment placed on their style and enter a world full of comfort.
What are the sneakers that made you fall in love with the culture? Show us on social media and tag @CFashionista!