If you could see my feet—a blistered, corned, scarred mess of impenetrable calluses—you would wonder what the fuck is wrong with the brain of the girl attached to them for subjecting herself to the "coutorture" of a pair of five-inch heels that were as expensive as they are uncomfortable. But it's not my fault—don't blame the fashion victim, blame the fashion! And don't get me wrong. I love shoes. I love clothes. I love accessories. I just hate fashion. It may sound like a contradiction, but really, it's not. Because "fashion" as a scene and a business isn't even about clothes, shoes, and accessories. Ask any person immersed in that field and they'll (pretentiously) tell you that fashion is about "expression" and a "feeling."
And they're kinda right. Because the fashion magazines—which feature outrageously-priced items worn by stick-thin, boobless models with boyish figures who have landed the job because their aesthetics appealed to some gay man somewhere who has no physical use for a woman other than as a walking hanger—have expressed to me that I'm not thin or rich enough to make the grade, which leaves me feeling about as beat-up and unfortunate as my feet. I can't fucking stand the implication that the amount of money that goes out of my checking account or the amount of food that goes into my mouth have anything to do with what I amount to.
And for the most part, I don't hold designers accountable for decreeing that to which I should aspire. It's all the other assholes on the totem pole propping up the industry—the editors, the stylists, the PR departments, Posh Spice—who are suffering from their own forms of status anxiety. These are the people who turn the lofty ideas and theoretical fantasies of fashion into one big nightmarish reality. I have had more than a few memorable encounters with these bubble-bursters.
I once worked as a trend consultant (very, very briefly) for a big fashion company and I let a sadistic gay man who wore sleeveless mesh shirts to the office (and also had a blacklight tattoo on his arm) make me cry. He had dropped remarks here and there about how my arms could benefit from toning, so maybe I should reorganize the boxes of archival magazines. He would also constantly point out women on TV and in magazines who he thought were "fat," which of course meant that they were an enormous size 6.
Every day, when people would come in and sit down at their desks, he would ask them "who" they were wearing, like he's Joan Rivers or something. Even though we all made a good living, everyone who worked in that office was always broke, living hand to mouth, because there was so much pressure to get dressed up in the morning. The day that I cried, it was some girl's birthday in the office. We sang "Happy Birthday" and blacklight-tattoo brought out tiramisu. I don't particularly like tiramisu so when I was offered a piece, I said no thanks, and he said something like, "Oh, NOW you're on a diet?" and then I cried. That jerk. I forget his name.
Another time, when Happy Valley first opened after Jeremy Scott had redecorated the club, I got put on the list one night. I was working at Bust magazine at the time. I went up to the door and there was this being with a clipboard. I honestly could not tell, but I really think that it was a woman trying to look like a drag queen and not the other way around. Anyway, she was working with this other dude, and I gave them my name and where I was from and the woman shook her head no and let these other people in before me. The other guy was like, "But she's on the list," and the drag lady literally looked me up and down and said, "But she's a nobody!" like REALLY loud. And whatever, I am a nobody, but it also wasn't Studio 54, and that woman wasn't wearing pants—just a leotard with tights. Somewhere along the line, whatever fantasy of fashion she may have had twisted and transformed into the fantasy of making someone feel like shit.
When it comes down to it, fashion is an industry operating on opinions that are informed by the insecurities of people who you know don't eat three squares a day. Frankly, I don't trust people with empty-stomach breath to tell me what taste is.
That's the thing: Taste is so subjective. And because of that, there's never a right answer about what is tasteful, and what you should be consuming, be it merchandise or meals. What I hate about fashion is that there's too much emphasis placed on what and not enough on why. I've come to realize that it's not about what I like, but why I like it. And that's how I've resolved to continue to masochistically wear those painful high heels. It's not because they are expensive shoes by a revered designer. It's because they make my ass look good.
Tracie Egan is the editor of Jezebel.com, a mean, funny blog that makes fun of fashion and famous people.