Footwear, as we all know, is considered one of the basic necessities for a person. They are a source of comfort to our feet. They are what a person stands on. The footwear protects us against the different terrain or climate we might cross. Its basic purpose is to ease walking and prevent injuries. Bare feet, in some places, are seen as a sign of humility. Lately, people have started to see footwear more as an item of fashion and less as a necessity. Removal or absence of footwear is seen as a sign of humility or mourning in some cultures.
Footwear dates back to as long as we have resources to tell us that. In ancient times footwear was seen as a sign of power and status in society. The middle ages saw the rise of the heels in shoes that bought out what is one of the most important items of fashion today, high heels. The high heels were highly associated with power. Artwork from that period tells us bare feet were a symbol of poverty.
Neccessity or Luxury?
However, this does not necessarily mean that everyone has the luxury of this basic necessity. We can still see people out on the road barefooted. Especially in a country like India where millions of people live in poverty. While terming shoes or footwear as a basic necessity, we don’t think of the people who don’t have this necessity.
For them, it might still be a luxury. Isn’t it unfair? How many times have we seen bare-footed children outside places of worship asking for a rupee or two in exchange for looking after our shoes while we are gone? Yet, we sometimes complain about a five rupee being too high to look after the shoes.
Have we ever looked back to the fact that the children or people who offer to look after our shoes might have never actually worn one? Or let’s talk about the cobblers that we often spot at bus stands or randomly on a footpath with his instruments laid out in front of him in a tattered piece of cloth. While putting out our shoes for him/her to polish, have we ever wondered what kind of footwear they have?
Shoes, cannot be termed a basic necessity while 600 million people worldwide don’t have access to it. Shoes provide support and stability to a person. But what about people who don’t have shoes? Don’t they have the right to support and stability? Sure they do. What can we do about this? The moment shoes were termed as a fashion item, their price hiked. It’s even difficult for a lower-middle-class person to afford comfortable, durable shoes at a reasonable price.
Why is it so difficult for the manufacturer to keep in mind that not everybody can afford the kind of shoes they are selling? Manufacturing something affordable by the commons won’t spoil the brand name. But who will tell this to the top-notch company tagging their shoes with thousands written on the price tag?
What a common man/woman wants is something comfortable, affordable that will last them long enough. But stuff like that is off-limits for them. For example, a person working in a private firm cant go to work wearing a mere pair of slippers and he can’t afford the swanky shoes at those air-conditioned showrooms. What is he supposed to do? Ruin his image in front of his bosses or go into debt. Maybe the debt will be only a few thousand. But a debt is a debt. And if we are talking about India, debt is a permanent speck of dirt that won’t go away even after you pay it off.
People should try and understand. While moving from a developing to a developed country we are leaving behind a certain sect of people behind. India can be called diverse in many ways. We can see people buying Alexander McQueen at a plush showroom and outside that same showroom, you might see a child begging for alms, whose feet haven’t ever felt the comfort of shoes, the comfort, the stability that shoes give.
What can people do about this? Well. We really don’t know as yet. It is easy to find a problem. But the solution is the most tricky part. Let’s start with the manufacturer. For starters, the manufacturer can manufacture cheaper shoes and sandals along with fashion items. Something that will be affordable and durable. India produces cotton. Cotton shoes are comfortable and durable.
The manufacturers can start off by producing cotton shoes first. They will probably come out cheaper than the ones they are producing now. Next comes the seller. The seller should provide a wide range of choices for the buyers. Having a variety to choose from, even if the person is from a privileged background he/she might choose to buy something cheaper. And if the person is from a middle-classed background he/she can find what he/ she wants from the range they can afford.
How hard can it be to place a few more shoes of the middle range for a shopkeeper?
Shoes are known to make life easier at some level. So making them affordable should be a prime concern for everybody. Along with shelter, clothes, food, and education, shoes should also be added to the list of necessities. In some way, shoes are also protecting us from infections. Many sorts of infections can be acquired if we step on something dirty with our bare feet.
Benefits of Footwear
Hence, the shoe provides a protective layer to our feet just like the mask is partially protecting us from the pandemic at the present time. Having protective footwear with the correct fit is essential for overall health and comfort. Shoes in some way reflect our personality. If we wear proper shoes our posture remains straight and automatically feel confident about what we are up to.
If the feet are the base of a building, shoes are the foundation. Back pain is a common result of faulty footwear.
Not wearing shoes for a long time puts increased pressure on the feet and this may result in terminal illness. The people who can’t afford shoes are mostly seen with bruises and wounds on their feet.
Wearing shoes would have protected them from such hurt. Hence, shoes should be made cheaper and available for all sorts of people. The Government can also help by promoting handmade shoes from cottage industries. It promotes the cottage industries and provided affordable footwear as well.
As we have seen, footwear is not only an item of fashion but also a need. People from all kinds of backgrounds should wear shoes, which is not happening. Next time we should look back at the cobbler or the person who tends to the shoes outside a place of worship and see if we can spare a rupee or two. A rupee might be nothing for us, but for them, it is the rupee that will turn into hundreds for them to be able to afford shoes.