Friday, November 24, 2017

Amy Winehouse - Fuck Me Pumps

F**k - Me Pumps: What's that all about?

Right from biblical times, sex workers were associated with the shoes they wore. It is documented working girls in ancient Egypt wore sandals which left the message "follow me" in the sand. The daughters of Israel were warned against wearing elevated sandals which caused them to walk in a suggestive manner. Needless to say whilst the elders did not approve many would appear to have enjoyed the charms of those who did.

In the sixteenth century many prostitutes wore high platform shoes to stand out in the street. Chopines were very popular with the fashion conscious in Venice but these women rarely if ever were seen in the street, preferring as they did, to be carried everywhere in sedan chairs. Occasionally courtesans (high class call girls) would step out in public but even this was rare. During these times, sex workers were required by law to dress in a manner which would identify their profession and many wore yellow about their person.

From the time of the French Revolution to the American Civil War respectable women wore low heeled pumps. Heels became associated with affluence and so men after the revolution soon dropped the peacock style.

In New Orleans about the same time it is documented the French prostitutes wearing high heeled boots became very popular with their young American clients. Historians believe the popularity of the high heeled call girls was the main reason for the introduction of shoe fashion industry to the US.

The bad girl image was sealed when in the thirties Hollywood discovered the psycho-sexual nature of shoes as a means to determine screen characterisation.

Bad girls wore high heeled pumps on screen and many Hollywood glamour girls like, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and Shelly Winters were contracted to do the same, whenever in the public eye.

Shelly Winters in her biography recounts the origins of the Fuck-me pump. She and Marilyn were considered talentless actresses by the studio with their only attribute being physical. To enhance this the girls were contractually required to wear heel pumps and the term came not from their come hither appeal but the true exclamation when the footwear was taken off after a long day. In the shoe industry high heel pumps have been referred to a FM Pumps ever since.

Winters S (1980) Shelley: Also Known as Shirley William Morrow & Company

Women with smaller feet have prettier faces and men with small wrists are more attractive

According to evolutionary psychologists at the University at Albany, New York women with smaller feet have prettier faces. The same goes for women with longer thigh bones and narrower hips; as well as those who are taller overall.

Researchers measured hand length, foot length, thigh length and hip width on 60 white females, then adjusted each measurement to account for individual differences in overall height. For each of 16 body-part measurements, they selected the eight women with the shortest lengths and the eight with the longest, and constructed morphs of their faces. These morphs were then rated for attractiveness by 77 heterosexual males. Men were three-and-a-half times more likely to pick the short-footed morph as more attractive, and almost 10 times as likely to say it was more feminine. Further they were more than 11 times as likely to pick the narrow-hipped morph as more attractive, and eight times as likely to choose the long-thighed morph. The researchers believe the reason why these features were attractive relates to markers of a healthy childhood. Biologists know stress and poor nutrition during foetal development and puberty can affect sex hormone levels and cause earlier puberty. Women with a benign childhood continue to grow for longer, and display a more slender and stereotypically feminine face and body, which most men find more attractive.

Sixty seven (67) men were also morphed and when 82 heterosexual women were asked to rate the attractiveness and masculinity of morphs of eight male faces the results were less clear-cut than they had been for women. Female viewers chose morphs of men with long torsos as being more attractive, but they also thought men with small wrists were more attractive. Women were twice as likely to rate the large-wristed morph as more open to sex without love, and by the same margin opted for the small-wristed morph as a better candidate for a long-term relationship.

Interesting work and may go at least in part to help explain the sexual allure of small shoes. The displacement theory (focus moved from genitalia to head and feet) would see the female face generally get longer with hats etc but female feet were more likely to be hidden or covered. The work 'shoe' means to cover furtively.

Holmes B. 2010 Why men are attracted to women with small feet New Scientist.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thomas Hood : The Song of the Shirt and Miss Kilmansegg and Her Precious Leg : A golden legend

London born humourist and poet, Thomas Hood (1799 – 1845) had Scottish heritage and although he was born in London he lived and worked in Dundee for many years contributing humorous and poetical articles to the provincial newspapers and magazines. As an engraver he illustrated many of his own humours and fancies with quaint devices.

After he became a sub-editor (of sorts) at the London Magazine he mixed with the literary society of the time. Best known as a humorist, his serious poetry was almost entirely ignored. He had a keen sense of wit and edited the lightly satirical Comic Annual, (dating from 1830) for many years.

Hood was master of the pun and sensitive to the social deprivation which surrounded him.

He put this talent to good use with the poem "Song of the Shirt." (1843). The lament told of a poor London seamstress who sold shirts belonging to her employer to feed her child. It became a popular song.

Later it was dramatised by Mark Lemon (founding editor of Punch and the Field ) as The Sempstress. In 1909, D.W. Griffith, made a short silent movie based on "The Song of the Shirt" featuring, "The First Movie Star", Florence Lawrence.

Hood’s poem was inspiration to many social activists in defense of laboring women, living in abject poverty despite their constant industriousness. Hood also wrote humorously on other contemporary issues including grave robbing and selling of corpses to anatomists.

Don’t go to weep upon my grave,

And think that there I be.

They haven’t left an atom there

Of my anatomie

Another poem by Thomas Hood, "Miss Kilmansegg and Her Precious Leg" (first published in 1840 in the 'New Monthly Magazine'), was dramatized for the BBC by Martin Wade. The famous poem is a timeless satire about the corrupting power of money. Miss Kilmansegg is the daughter of a rich banker and when she loses a leg after an accident, she insists in having a prosthesis made of gold. Now the talk of the town the amputee becomes pray to a scheming, ruthless cad who marries her and squanders her fortune. However once the money goes the bounder does something dastardly with the unfortunate girls golden leg.

The Moral

GOLD! Gold! Gold! Gold!
Bright and yellow, hard and cold,
Molten, graven, hammer’d, and roll’d;
Heavy to get, and light to hold;
Hoarded, barter’d, bought, and sold,
Stolen, borrow’d, squander’d, doled:
Spurn’d by the young, but hugg’d by the old
To the very verge of the churchyard mould;
Price of many a crime untold;
Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!
Good or bad a thousand-fold!
How widely its agencies vary:
To save—to ruin—to curse—to bless—
As even its minted coins express,
Now stamp’d with the image of Good Queen Bess,
And now of a bloody Mary.

That's what they mean by double denim

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Shoes and Sumptuary Laws in Antiquity

Banning people form wearing certain cloths in public like the burka or hoodies is not new and controlling what people wear by law goes back to antiquity. However, according to Poitiers (1910) it has had no effect on 'deviant behaviours', whatsoever.

"History has proved that all sumptuary laws have been everywhere, after a brief time, abolished, evaded or ignored. Vanity will always invent more ways of distinguishing itself than the laws are able to forbid."

In antiquity, efforts to control personal regulation were related to the general mode of living rather than of dress. The Greeks had some laws relating to clothing, such as; women could only wear three garments at a time. This may account for why most women went barefoot. The amount of money to be spent of clothing was also regulated by the wealth of the family.

Sumptuary laws in Rome included the Lex Orchia which was passed in 187 BC. This related to the number of invited people who might attend a feast. The Lex Fannia was passed in 161 BC and regulated, the cost of entertainment. According to Brundage, 1987) the Roman Lex Oppia, was adopted in 215 BC and later repealed 195 BC with the Lex Valria Fundiana. Marcus Porcius Cato argued lifting restrictions of women's dress would invite moral decadence and social upheaval. He was proven right and both followed in quick pursuit.

Colour and material were very important as a means of depicting rank in Roman times. Laws were passed restricting peasants (plebs) to one colour; officers could have two colours; commanders three; and members of the royal household up to seven colours. The colour purple was always reserved for the royal family. Scarlet could be worn only by royal family members and high noblemen.

During the reign of Claudius I (AD 41-54), his marines were ordered to go barefoot after some demanded compensation from the emperor for the marching shoes the marines had wore out. As a result the entire fleet were forbidden from wearing shoes.

At the time of Emperor Aurelian, (Lucius Claudius Domitius Aurelianus (AD 270 - 275) the colours yellow, white, red or green were reserved exclusively for women. The only exception to this was he reserved the right to wear red or purple for himself and his sons. He banned his wife from buying purpura-dyed silk garments because it cost its weight in gold. Only ambassadors to foreign lands might wear gold rings, and men were strictly forbidden from wearing silk garments of any sort.

When Roman soldiers returned victorious to Rome they frequently celebrated by substituting the bronze nails in their caligae (war sandals) with gold and silver tacks. The fashion caught on and patricians began to wear ornamentation on their shoes with gold and jewels. Such alarm was raised with the fashion for shoe bling Emperor Heliogabalus (AD 218-222) banned the practice. He did however, have his own shoes decorated with diamonds and other precious stones, engraved by the finest artists. During the more luxurious days of the Roman Empire, thongs were decorated with gold and precious stones. Sumptuary laws and price controls were later imposed by Gaius Valerius Diocletianus (AD 245-313), in AD 301.

During Roman times footwear came in many styles and colours each reflecting class distinctions. Only male citizens were entitled to wear the toga and the calceus (a shoe or short boot). The colour of the calceus always indicated social standing. The reason for this had much to do with the cost of dying materials which was very expensive. Red was, at first, the colour for high magistrates (in the service of Aedile ); but later became the Emperor's prerogative.

Brundage JA 1987 Sumptuary laws and prostitution in late Medieval Italy Journal of Medieval History 13:4 343-355.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Soccer players :Common Superstitions

To be a top class goal scorer a player needs not only to be able to score when the opportunity presents but even when there is only half a chance. Scoring from the slenderest opportunity places an exclusive band of goal scorers far above the average striker. On a simple goal tally it is obvious more goals are scored in the modern game than was the case in early times. How much of this relates to improved soccer boots and ball technology remains debatable. Players are however, by nature, very superstitious and will go to extraordinary lengths to maintain their run of luck. Whilst performance is dependent on training, confidence and physical conditioning; all athletes feel they need to be in control and often observing superstitions provides this means. Athletes can only partially regulate their physical conditions but can have total control over their superstitious practices before and during a contest. Observed superstitions cause them to experience less anxiety than they would if they did nothing. When something appears to work, prior to success, then it is common not to change that routine. To minimise conflict between the need for a talisman in an environment where such practice is opposed the superstitious behaviour usually becomes covert.

Most actions defy common logic and some are so bazaar as to be noted here. Whilst most admit to being superstitious and doing silly things, like soaking themselves and their new boots in a bath before allowing boots to dry around their feet, many are as quick to dismiss these beliefs. When the accumulation of coaching, training, skill development and fitness are complete all that is required is for the player, is to go out and play. Or so you might think. The surreptitious nature of the game and likelihood of suffering an injury combined with the abject fear of public disgrace particularly when seen by 350 million people puts intolerable pressures on the players.

According to Morris (1981) these factors contribute to why soccer players are so superstitious. They are not alone in the sporting fraternity. The power of superstition is all in the mind and for some players the magic rituals take on astonishing intensity. In the main team mates respect each other's rituals and all avoid tempting fate.

Ritualistic behaviours can start days before the game and these include eating only certain things. Superstitious players will be careful to travel to the stadium observing all taboos as a means of not tempting fate. Prior to the match, Spanish National goal keeper, Pepe Reina (Napoli) on home match days, always tops up his fuel tank at his local garage whether he needs fuel or not. To calm himself down prior to each game, Malvin Kamara (former Sierra Leonean international, Cardiff City and Huddersfield defender) always watched his favourite film, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

Many well known players will only wear certain shoes and socks, and like a young bride, place a sixpence (lucky coin) in their shoes for luck. England national team player, Phil Jones (Manchester United) always puts his socks on in accordance with whether his team has a home or away fixture. The left sock goes on first at a home fixture and visa versa when he is playing away.

Some personally polish their playing boots in preparation before the match. This menial task is usually reserved to apprentice players or boot boys. Alcohol, usually spirits, plays a role, and Desmond Morris, the anthropologist described one player who insisted on dosing the tips of his boots, one with whisky and the other water.

The most intense time for ritualism is in the changing rooms. Some players insist on entering the changing rooms in a particular way most of, which involves walking through the boot room. Lucky shoes, socks, and even laces all form part of the rituals, religiously followed by those seeking the good fortunes of fate. The manner the clothing is put on often become ritualistic. Some players are known to put on socks and boots and nothing else well before the game. They sit quietly psyching themselves up to a peak performance. This might involve a nip of whisky or their favourite tipple to further concentrate their mind. Putting on the left sock first before the right, or the right boot before the left. Lacing boots can become a ritual with players lacing and unlacing their boots multiple times before the game.

Some players insist on eating and Billy Bremner (former captain of Leeds United and Scotland) was famous for eating a plateful of baked beans before every game.

Former Chelsea striker, Adrian Mutu always always wore his underpants inside out and Morris reported the clothing of others could also become a focus to the superstitious. For example some players needed to see their coach wear socks of their lucky colour before they would take to the field. This fetishism extends to the shoes worn by the coach and the author described a ceremoniously fastened of the coach's shoe by one of the players as pre-match necessity before the team would leave the dressing rooms.

World Cup winner, Bobby Moore (West Ham) used to wait for his team-mates to finish changing so he could be the last person to put on his shorts before kick-off.

Another England Captain, John Terry (Aston Villa and Chelsea) always used the same urinal before every match. He insisted on wearing three pairs of football boots per game with a pair to warm up in, a pair for the first half and a pair for the second half. The Nike boots were never worn by him again. Terry would often donate them to the Make a Wish foundation for auction, or give them to fans and mascots, as a keep sake to take home from the game.

The great Johan Cruyff (Ajax) liked to slap his goalkeeper Gert Bals, in the stomach before every game.

Players are ritualistic even in the tunnel leading to the pitch. Some players will head or kick the ball a certain number of times or bounce it off the wall before running onto the field. Probably the most common superstition throughout football is being the last player out of the tunnel before every game. Kolo Toure (former defender for Celtic and Arsenal) always insists on being the last player to come on to the field. He would wait for all his teammates to enter the pitch before he would join them. He like many others, avoided stepping on white lines on the pitch and used the foot corresponding to a home (left) or away (right) fixture. By contrast Ronaldo Nazario (Real Madrid) always stepped into the field with his right foot. Other players who preferred to be last out include Paul Ince (West Ham United and Manchester United) , the beast of Vallecas, Alvaro Negredo (Beşiktaş JK ), and William Gallas (Tottenham Hotspur and Perth Glory).

Once on the pitch another set of ritual behaviour might take place. Players will take their boots off and put them back on again for luck. This is an old Jewish custom when the right shoe was put on first without tying it, then the left sock. The ritual required taking the right shoe off and putting on the right sock, left shoe on tied and back to the right shoe. Many players will kiss their boots or the ground for luck. During the 1998 World Cup, France’s Laurent Blanc kissed the bald head of goalkeeper Fabian Barthez before every match for good luck.

Chewing gum too can play a role Players will roll some players roll their chewing gum into a ball and attempt to kick it. Successful contact means a good game but when the player misses then bad luck will follow. Johan Cruyff like to spit his chewing gum out in the opposition half before kick off.

Many goal scorers have a hair cat before each game to bring them luck. During warm ups some strikers refuse to shoot at goal in order to keep luck on their side. Gary Lineker (England and Tottenham Hotspur ) always changed his jersey at half time especially if he had not scored in the first half . Common enough practice today, but back then, it was unusual.

When Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pele) ran into a goal less spell he blamed it on giving his Santos jersey away to a fan after a game. Distraught, he asked one of the club's employees to track the jersey down and bring it back. Once restablied with his old jersey, the player managed to score again. Some years later, however, the employee admitted to having cheated. He had just grabbed a similar jersey from the club's locker room and pretended it was the original.

Players will carry lucky charms including a rabbit's foot or lucky heather. The absence of pockets in playing kits and restrictions on wearing jewellery for safety mean the talisman are slipped into the shoe, or in the case of goal keeper such paraphernalia are tossed into the back of the goal. Former Republic of Ireland keeper, Shay Given (Stoke City) keeps a vial of Lourdes holy water at the back of his goal as a lucky charm.

Former England number one David James (West Ham and Manchester City), always insisted in not speaking to anyone prior to the game. He would only use the urinals if they were empty and regularly spat on the wall for luck. Pepe Reina touched the turf and before crossing himself, would always knock both posts and the crossbar, before pacing out four strides into his six-yard area. As part of his pre-match ritual he liked to limber up with some squat thrusts and a couple of shimmies to get his muscles warm.

In the past many keepers insisted on wearing their old jumpers for luck. This obviously changed in modern times with sponsorship and new strips each season but since the Gunners' 1927 FA Cup final defeat to Cardiff, which was blamed on a greasy new woollen top worn by Dan Lewis, Arsenal's goalkeepers never wear brand new shirts unless they have been washed beforehand.

Players are not allowed to leave the field of play during a game even when nature calls. Several goal keepers have been caught short during a game including German Internationalist, Jens Lehmann (Arsenal), Fabien Barthez (France and Manchester United) and Sergio Goycochea (Argentina) in the quarterfinal of the 1990 World Cup. Taking a leak in public has become a bit of a ritual.

Players prefer to play in boots that are broken in. Not so strange when hidden seams can burst causing painful blisters as well as cuts and abrasions to their feet. In the past, some players preferred to remove design logos from their boots. Manufacturers once alerted to this antic incorporate weaknesses such as hidden seems which tear easily once the company's logo are removed. Boot contracts and bespoke footwear for the top players have more or less stopped this habit but some players will insist their signature boots include their children's names, Prior to boot contracts key players were incentivised to wear novel boots. Alan Ball accepted boot manufacturer Hummel offer to wear their all white boots for £2,000 but when he discovered they were uncomfortable to wear he got young apprentices to paint his Adidas football boots white. All went well until the white washed off and the company withdrew their cash payment.

In 1908 when goal-scoring ace, George Hedley played for Wolverhampton Wanderers he scored a goal against Newcastle causing one of his favourite boots to split. Despite being offered a new pair Hedley steadfastly refused and saw the game to completion with one tattered boot. The player had his favourite boots patched up at least 17 times before eventually and somewhat reluctantly parting with them.

Occassionally the occult plays a role in football and after it was discovered there was a gypsy curse on Birmingham City, the then club secretary, Alan Jones took the unusual step to lift the hex by urinating in all four corners of the pitch at St Andrews. It seemed to work and the Blues started to pick up points again. Cameroon coach Winfried Schafer and his assistant, Thomas Nikono, were less lucky when they were jailed after it was discovered they placed a voodoo curse on their opposition during the 2002 African Nations Cup. During the same competition, Tony Sylva, the Senegal goalkeeper asked a witch doctor to make him some magic paint, and he kept a clean sheet for 448 minutes.

The president of Pisa Football Club, Romeo Anconetani, threw salt on the ground before games brought his team luck. The owner of Cardiff City, Vincent Tan changed the club’s colours to red from the traditional blue to bring luck to club and increase its appeal in the Far East. Red is considered a a lucky colour. He also gave preference for signing players with the number 8 in their birth dates.

The former French national football team manager Raymond Domenech read horoscopes and chose his team squads accordingly. He particularly disliked Scorpio and Leo’s, which effectively ended the career of Robert Pires. Marcelo Bielsa who managed both the bational teams of national teams of Argentina and Chile would regularly ask nuns to pray for his team. Manager of Argentina’s 1986 World Cup Squad, Carlos Salvador Bilardo always called a female fan for luck after she wished him luck before the team won 4-1.

Why so many superstitions involve boots remains unclear but such behaviour as preferring the right or left has been known since antiquity. In Roman and Greek times the left side was considered lucky with one exception and that was when entering a home. Only the right foot could cross the threshold if good luck was to prevail. In rich domiciles there were servants whose sole function (excuse the pun) was to direct all visitors to use their right foot first. They were called footmen and position is still with us today. By the Middle Ages the left side was more associated with bad luck. The origins of "By the left quick march" for example refer to a clear indication no mercy will be extended to the enemy. Soccer players may be extending the same charity to their opponents. For most people left sides are weaker. This is partly explained by neonatal compression of the left leg against the mother's spine in the womb. Attendance to the right foot first may be to favour the stronger side. This would be reversed in the case of left-footed players. One other reason to explain the boot ritual may be the misfortune awaiting those who place their right foot in a left shoe. History records this happened to Augustus Caesar.

"Augustus having an oversight

Put on his left shoe for his right

Had like to have been slain that day

By soldiers mutinying for pay."

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Jimmy Choo: Sex in the city, high heels, and the pelvic floor muscles

If you were a child of the 60s, you may be forgiven for thinking “Diamonds were a girl’s best friend” but as any fan of Carrie Bradshaw and Sex in the City will confirm, modern girl’s best chums are their shoes. Designers like Manolo Blahnik and Christian Loubin cannot put a foot wrong with their heeled pumps but by far it’s Jimmy Choo who stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to being ‘well heeled.’

The power of product placement (or embedded marketing) and its influence on consumer spending is clearly seen in many box office movies but none more so than the 'Sex in the city' franchise. Tamara Mellon’s clever Coup d'État in placing Jimmy Choo shoes on the character, Carrie Bradshaw‘s dainty feet catapulted the small independent shoe designer into popular focus. Suffice no respectable fashionista would now be without a pair of his shoes. Mellon and Choo have long since parted as business partners but that has not stopped his line in footwear from becoming the best known in the world.

Sex in the City is set in New York City and focuses on lives of four American women, three in their mid-thirties and one in her forties. (pumas and cougars). Carrie Bradshaw and her three best friends, Miranda Hobbes, Charlotte York and Samantha Jones enjoy free and frank exchange on modern living. Shoes are frequently featured and have become a strong metaphor for emancipation. Strange icon you might think especially when tight fitting, high heeled shoes are more suited as symbols restriction and containment.

In popular culture and to the Modern Primitive these icons demonstrate liberty and freedom to choose. . All of which brings us to the burning question are high heeled shoes bad for posture?

In the past medical condemnation of women wearing high heels has been well documented yet there is no evidence to support many of these claims. Seems the demonization of heeled shoes comes down to pure misogyny (distrust of women). Independent research confirms the turning effects on the knee caused by wearing higher heels is significantly less than when flat sensible heels were worn. These findings alone do not confirm heel styles cause knee problems such as arthritis, but do seriously question our belief flat heels are better than raised heels. Other research from Italy suggests wearing heeled shoes can improve pelvic floor muscle tone. Researches found wearing elevated heels (up to 2” or 7cms) relaxed the muscles in the pelvic region increasing their strength and ability to contract. Researchers are keen to follow up these investigations to ascertain whether elevated shoes can assist with continence training and whether wearing heeled shoes prevents the need in some women to actively exercise the pelvic floor muscles.


The association between heel height and increased pelvic tone has a long history (though mostly forgotten and certainly not well understood). Footbinding in China was a means of physically altering the way adult females walked (just like the previous research) the Lotus foot (3 inches in length) changed gait patterns and in doing so had the effect of toning up the pelvic muscles. Experts now believe the practice of footbinding or wearing high heels confirms anatomical features are linked to intimate behaviours of the female kind.