Tennis Shoes: A Girl’s Best Friend This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

October 28, 2011
As I walk to class, hands in pockets, leaves crunching under my feet, I notice them: my tennis shoes. Sure I've worn them hundreds of times, but today it occurs to me that these sensible shoes have given me a sense of power I never knew I had.

As a woman, we are expected to do, wear, and say certain things. At my school, long straightened hair, tight leggings, and fancy shoes constitute the norm. But here I am, wearing tennis shoes to class. They are not the ­latest trend or the most expensive designer item, but they get the job done. Their purpose goes beyond that of covering my toes; they also give me a safeguard from society.

To the other girls, my shoes say that I'm not willing to give in to their ways, not yet at least. My shoes set me apart without having to walk around with my nose up in the air. Some girls may ignore me because of my shoes. That's good news for me because they are the ones I probably wouldn't have gotten along with anyway. To others, the practicality of my sneakers may cause them to stop and think. No matter what the ­perception, my shoes help make me who I am.

When it comes to boys, my shoes may turn them off completely. And to me, that means I have power. It seems an ever more prominent fad in our world to see people for who they are on the surface. The spray tans, teeth-whitening products, and frilly clothes are all great, but at the end of the day, don't you ever wonder if that guy was talking to you or to your looks? I realize my tennis shoes are far from sexy, but that means that if a guy is willing to talk to me, he is interested in me, not my appearance. My shoes keep the shallow boys at a distance and leave me amongst men I'm actually happy to get to know. When and if I feel like getting dolled up, I can. But I control society's perception of me.

Most importantly, my shoes mean something significant to me. They give me a sense of pride and focus. The fact that I can wear my tennis shoes proudly makes me feel ­secure in my own skin. As a young woman, I understand the importance of planning for the future. Our high school years are meant to be a fun and experimental time, but at some point we have to grow up. Some girls can pull off the high heeled power woman look for a successful business career. I prefer to plan for a life of rational decisions, and my shoes reflect that.

Are my tennis shoes going to get me elected prom queen? No. Will they get me the hot football player boyfriend? Most likely not. But they give me peace of mind. I know that whenever my tattered tennies adorn my feet, I throw out a challenge to society as a whole: look at me for me. Those who rise to the occasion will be the real keepers in my life. My shoes will also assure a stable family in the future. My mom wears tennis shoes and they have not failed her. I hope that one day my own daughters will opt for this no-frills footwear.

Tennis shoes are not really big shoes to fill. Instead they are big shoes that fill whoever wears them with power. The frayed laces allow the wearer to peel back the frayed images that society throws at us. The rubber soles fill her soul with peace knowing that she is free to be her own person.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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beautifulspirit This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm
An interesting perspective---never thought of it that way. I've always thought that what we wear makes a certain statement to the rest of society. Cool article~
 
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