The Ties That Bind Us: Do shoes reveal what we value?

Posted on April 14, 2017 by Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

Shoes, whether you think of them as a fashion statement or a utilitarian necessity, our foot covering can remind us of our similarities across cultures and history.

Image: A collage of shoes from different cultures and eras
Source: Wikimedia

Today we will be talking about the humble shoe on Ever Widening Circles (EWC). Or maybe it’s not so humble? Turns out we tend to broadcast what we value through our footwear.

Shoes are much more fascinating than it appears. 

Okay, okay, how are shoes going to prove it’s still an amazing world (our motto here at EWC)?

Well, shoes say a lot about an Achilles Heel (sorry for the pun) that seems to run through almost all cultures: the need to demonstrate status. Humans will do some pretty crazy things when it comes to footwear. And yet, when we are innovative and practical with our footwear, it allows us to do some amazing things that have brought civilization forward.

See what you think:

So next time you are people-watching, take a look at the shoes you are seeing, and pay attention to the assumptions you make about individuals after seeing their shoes.

It’s an almost irresistible train of thought.

There are so many narratives one could investigate related to shoes! In doing the research for this article, I came across some well-cited articles about how shoes effect our health, about the economics of charitable shoe giving by TOMS, the environmental implications of shoes and much more.

Once again, the world is so much more complex and curious than we might imagine; all of it can remind us to stay open and optimistic. It definitely is still an amazing world!

~ Dr. Lynda

Want to see more insights and innovation?

If you liked this article, we suggest you check out a great TED Talk about what fear can teach us with Karen Thompson.

Now I know the title doesn’t sound like something you would want to dive into, but the concept in that TED talk is really a gift! It’s all about those initial impulses and the stories we tell ourselves.

It’s one of my very favorite TED.com insights, ever!

Additionally, if you want to see our curated list of the most interesting TED Talks, check out our Best of TED page for some of our favorites, or you can check out all of the TED Talks we have featured!

Head to our homepage to check out our latest articles, circles, and archives! Even better, subscribe below to receive the latest from EWC right to your inbox!

To stay with this train of thought, just scroll down this page and dive into one of the articles down there that I can recommend.