A few years, ago, I bought myself a pair of boots.
God, I loved those boots. They were high-heeled, high-legged, and they fit me perfectly – which was something of a miracle when it comes to me and boots. I wore them often, and when I did, I’d often feature them in the daily outfit photos I take for my personal blog. The purpose of those posts is purely to document my personal style: to show people what I’ve been wearing lately, and to discuss fashion and shopping with other, like-minded people – and, at first, that’s all it was.
Then the fetishist comments started rolling in.
Foot fetishists, I mean. Men (for the most part), who were NOT interested in fashion, or shopping, or any of the things my blog was about, but who had a predominantly sexual interest in those boots – and who wanted me to know all about it, and even to participate in that interest with them. They’d send me messages which were totally inappropriate: very sexual language, x-rated requests, things I hadn’t even imagined people might think it was OK to say to some random woman with a fashion blog.
My own interest, of course, was in fashion. While the boots in question could, I supposed, be described as “sexy”, that’s not why I’d bought them, or why I wore them. They’d come from a popular high-street store (i.e. they weren’t some specialist kind of kinky boots or anything), and there were lots of that style around at the time. I liked them because the high leg worked well with the skirts and dresses I wore, but as time went by, and the messages kept on coming, I started to feel really horrible about those boots: to feel almost as if I was doing something ‘wrong’ by wearing them. It seemed obvious, after all, that my wearing them was sending the men who contacted me the very clear signal that it was OK to write me these sexually-explicit messages – I suppose they must have assumed I might even welcome them.
I didn’t, of course. But I started to feel like perhaps I’d in some way “asked for it”, by daring to wear those boots – which is pretty sad, really, isn’t it? I mean, I knew perfectly well that I’d done nothing wrong: that it was the men sending the messages who were being inappropriate, not me, but still I was wracked with guilt, and last year it got to the stage where I stopped posting photos of the boots altogether. I still wore them occasionally, but over time, that stopped, too: I was still getting messages on the older posts which featured the boots in question, and every time I wore them, I’d feel uncomfortable, and couldn’t wait to take them off. It’s easy to say, “Oh, you just shouldn’t care what people think or say about you!” but it’s much harder to get those messages and just ignore them.
I don’t wear those boots any more: or any of the other shoes that have attracted the unwelcome attention of fetishists. I know it’s probably silly of me to have allowed them to stop me wearing something I liked (I’m well aware that people can only make you feel bad about something if you choose to let them), but there comes a point where you just get SO sick of the explicit messages and requests, that it seems easier to stop doing the thing that provokes them than to try to fight against it. That point came two weeks ago, when I got a particularly explicit message from someone about those damn boots: I’ve now placed them in the “get rid” pile, and will be passing them on someone who’s better equipped to deal with the kind of attention they seem to provoke.
(Quick note: no, I’m not interested in selling them, so please don’t message me about them: I’m at the point now where every single comment I get about them makes me suspect it’s yet another fetishist!)
I should say here – as I always do when I mention this kind of thing, that I’m not judging people for having a fetish: I really couldn’t care less what other people get up to. I am, however, judging them – and judging them hard – for attempting to involve ME in that fetish: for sending x-rated photos and making explicit requests to a complete stranger, in a bid to try and sexualise something that isn’t, for me, remotely sexual. If you’re one of the people who does this, please stop. Please consider how inappropriate you’re being, and how you might make someone feel by sending them this kind of message. Oh – and please don’t send me any more emails about those damn boots (even if it’s to sympathise or apologise): I REALLY don’t want to hear it!