Most designer shoes lovers know the name of the French designer Christian Louboutin, creator of the iconic red-soled shoes. Recently, I saw one of his designs that was inspired by Persian Poetry. It had Persian poems written on a pair of shoes. Although it looked very beautiful, I had to pause and ask myself if as a Persian, I would accept to wear these shoes.
It is true that our world today has more worries and turmoil than how a designer shoe looks like, however, it seems that while we are busy with wars and disasters, not only our values and morals are lost, our heritage is being diluted and no one seems to be free to show even a simple act of objection.
In the Middle East, like everywhere else in the world, people love to wear good and expensive shoes, however, that will not change its status as also being a symbol of an accessory that is considered dirty because it is constantly touching the filthy ground. Not only that, it is actually an insult to sit in a manner exposing the sole of your shoes to others. In the same way, using shoes as a sign of insult has become a common way of demonstrating anger and frustration against leaders that otherwise should be treated with respect and dignity. Some scenes like the one of an Arab journalist throwing shoes at President Bush or the shoes attack on statues, monuments and pictures of fallen leaders are but a few examples.
It is also that cultural values vary in different parts of the world, but should we not consider carefully other people’s heritage and way of living before we decide to use some of their norms in our own way of thinking? Maybe Mr Louboutin, who can make good shoes thought he was honouring the Persian culture by using their poetry on his shoes, but if he had given it some good thought through research, he might have reconsidered his step.
I once had a discussion with a vendor in Nairobi’s Maasai craft market. He, along with many others was selling wooden door stoppers that were shaped as Maasai warriors. I asked him was how the item used? he replied : “just push it under the door with your foot. I then told him , and do you realise that every time you are doing this, you are actually kicking the head of a Maasai warrior with your foot under the door? Could you not replace this with the head of a giraffe or a lion? At first the man smiled at my comment, but later on his face became more reflective. It is a point to think and reflect about, if statues and monuments were meaningless, they wouldn’t be erected to celebrate historical figures. Yet, these points shouldn’t become points of conflict , rather an approach to understand and appreciate other people’s way of living.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor