The following was recently posted on the Disability Studies in the Humanities Listserv as a male perspective to Professor Rosemarie Garland-Thomson's request for stories from disabled women "about shoe selection, wear, or any good information about your shoes, especially designer shoes."
The dialogue about shoes has resonated with me and I want to demonstrate that this is a gender neutral issue.
I am a polio survivor and as a child I wore the same sort of braces as Dr. Saxton with the ugly high top shoes that were attached to the braces, you had only one pair of shoes selected by the orthotist. When I was about eight, I was thrilled to get one Christmas a pair of what can only be described as Roy Roger spats, they fit over your shoes and were supposed to look like cowboy boots. I wanted to wear rubber galoshes because they looked better than the corrective shoes.
Later, I considered it a real accomplishment when I was graduated as a teenager to the kind of braces that attached shoes with channels through their heels. The shoes not only looked better, I could finally have more than one pair. I persuaded a shoe repairman friend to attach the channels to a good looking pair of boots and even to some tennis shoes, and boy was I proud of those.
Moving on to the modern braces on which your shoes fit over the plastic was a real blessing so I could wear any type of shoe that was wide enough to fit. Today, I feel like a male Imelda Marcos when I look in my closet at a good dozen pair of shoes and I am careful to pick a pair that matches my outfit.