“It was the first time I had ever worn a pair of shoes,” said the mother of one of her daughters, who, like the other mother, did not want to be named for fear of retribution.
“It felt like a step backwards.”
In the past, many women in India had worn ankle-length sandals and sandals with a short heel or ankle.
But for the first few months after Independence, they were often seen as “too tight,” or “too narrow.”
The government had decided to make the shoes more “natural” with a small heel and wider toes.
And since the shoes were meant to be casual, it made sense to create something that would appeal to more men.
“The government wanted to show that we were not just working in a factory,” said one of the mothers.
“We’re working in our own backyard.”
For the first three months, the women at a women’s shoe store in the city of Ahmedabad were instructed to wear a “natural dress.”
This meant they would wear tight-fitting jeans and a white t-shirt, but no high heels.
It was a challenge to fit them in a market.
“I was very happy, because the women were not afraid of wearing heels.
I would ask them, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to have to go shopping?’
And they would say, ‘I don’t care, I don’t have to.'”
The women also learned to dress more femininely.
“They had to wear skirts or blouses and have very little makeup on,” one mother told me.
When I asked what advice the mothers had given to the other mothers in their shoes, they shared their own personal experiences.
One of them said, “We were all scared and scared of what we would look like and what the reaction would be from the men.
That was our worst fear.
We had to do our best to blend in with the crowd.
But now, with all the women in our shoes, we feel comfortable.”
When I visited the other shoe store, in a larger market, it was obvious that the women had come to expect more freedom than before.
One shopper told me that the new dress, made up of a “traditional skirt and shoes,” was a “brave step” toward gender equality.
But the shoes also seemed to have inspired some women to think that they could “dress up” their fashion in ways that had never been possible before.
“Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t wait to try it on my friends,” one shopper said.
“What will they think?
That I’m wearing a skirt and a high heels?”
It was only after visiting the shoes store that the mothers realized how big of a change had been made.
“After seeing the shoes, my whole world changed,” one said.
For most of the women, the change was gradual.
But when I asked how they felt about the shoes’ appearance, most said they were relieved.
My feet are flat now,” one woman said.
And another said, “They are my choice.
“The only problem is that we are in a society where women are expected to conform to what men want,” said another.
“And the shoe industry, which was supposed to be for men, was now seen as a tool for women.
If I want a skirt, the men want it. “
If I want to wear my skirt, I have to wear it.
If I want a skirt, the men want it.
But if I wear a skirt in front of a man, I am not allowed to do that.”
The women who have worn the shoes in the market say they have not felt pressured.
“The shoe store did not pressure us to wear the shoes,” an elderly shopper at a shoe store said.
But other women who had never worn heels before have felt pressured to wear them, because they are the only ones who could afford them.
“Even the older women are pressured to have a dress that is not too revealing,” said a middle-aged shopper, who was also not named in the article.
“You feel the pressure.
I am worried about my appearance.
And I am afraid that some men will take advantage of that.”