Here is the prompt I followed in my writing time this morning: “That was the ugliest piece of clothing anyone ever had to wear in front of her friends.”
They were called “saddle shoes.” The name evokes images of mules, dusty trails and rural klutziness , but my mom expected me to wear them. To school. In front of everyone.
I must have been in the fourth or fifth grade. My mom was the proverbial Good Mother, so sensible shoes were the order of the day. After all, they were “good for my feet.”
Sturdy, yes. Substantial. But also clunky and awkward. A white shoe with a large black band across the top—the “saddle”—that tied up and needed to be worn with ankle socks.
In those days little girls wore dresses to school. The saddle shoes definitely did not go with dresses. They were not feminine. They were not pretty.
I hated them. And I was angry at Mom for making me wear them.
Furthermore, I was skinny. One of my nicknames—what the other kids chose to call me—was Bird-Legs. Can you picture it? Top to bottom: a crop of unruly naturally curly blond hair, a frilly dress, two thin stick-like legs, stuck into a foundation of chunky sensible shoes.
No wonder I felt ugly and awkward.
It took me years to realize I was pretty.
Now, as an older person with strong, healthy feet, I get it. While I no longer have to wear saddle shoes, I choose sensible. Thanks, Mom.