Selling My Sole – Guest Shoe Blog Post by Damana Madden

You should know that I am a bit of a nudzh. I worry about people.  When John Carney introduced me to Damana she was going through that whole picking up the pieces of her life that follows on from a marital break down. “I have to throw away all my D&G designer stuff” she tweeted at one point last year “because the letters spell Damana &  Giles“.

This piece from her Tropical Snowflake blog (written in April this year) kind of sums what a heart feels like a year after it has been broken:

People told me “Damana, in a year or so you will look back on your time with Giles and remember the good times but you would have moved on. You will see it as a good thing.”

It’s more than a year now. I try not to calculate exactly the number of days. He felt out of love with me two years before he even left. That was 5 months after we were married. He was the one who wanted to get married.

So he’s off now with his new girlfriend called Nadia, who looks like a lovely person. Someone I would even be friends with. She’s thin. Flat stomach. Straight hair. White. Not anything like me.

I know that if someone doesn’t love you then you are better off without them but I don’t feel better off. I still feel heartbroken. I still feel devastated. I still cry myself to sleep. I still hope he thinks of me at all.

This has to end, right? It can’t be this way forever. I don’t want to feel like this anymore.

Her ex-husband, helpfully, suggested at about that time that she should just do away with herself  rather than continuing to make him feel guilty by writing about the fact that she felt like a piece of pulverised meat. I sent her a lot of direct messages. “Are you okay hen?” I asked “you will feel better eventually just not soon enough”. God knows who the hell she thought I was because she didn’t reply.  Knowing her the way that I do now I expect she probably thought I was being an overfamiliar, nosey pain in the arse.  These are fair criticisms to level because if I see someone who appears to be suffering whether on the street or online I will stick my nose in.  It’s a West of Scotland thing.

So the first thing that I noticed about Damana was her raw pain and her honesty. Then I started to notice her shoe photos.

They say it don't matter if it's black or white so I chose both for today's shoes.

This is someone who has completely mental taste in shoes” I thought “someone not dissimilar to me“.  I asked her to blog about her shoes for me. She declined.  I checked her Flickr shoe galleries out. I waited out my time until I had the opportunity to send her a link to this pair of Irregular Choice shoes:

We talked (briefly) about opening a shoe store.  I asked her to blog for me. She said maybe.  That was her undoing. I started nagging her to blog for me in earnest.  I had no shame. We are the same shoe size after all. A little while ago, before we met I tried again:

She declined again.

We went for lunch – she wouldn’t let me pay for anything. Silently I cursed myself for giving in to the champagne and letting her pick up the tab. I knew that I had no leverage to get a blog out of her. I was beginning to get desperate.

I waited until she was at a low ebb emotionally. Yesterday she tweeted:

I took this as my moment to strike:

She replied:

Bingo! I am not proud of myself but at least I am persistent and low and behold after months of nagging Damana, my sole mate is finally blogging for me.

Now see if you can find the swear word…



Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

If Mark Twain was right then I’ll take that axiom and extend it to…

Shoes make the woman and going barefoot won’t get you squat.

People often talk about superficiality and how it does not matter what the outside looks like, if the inside is good. Unfortunately, the world we live in runs by a different set of rules. It is not a meritocracy full of people who look for your soul. You are more likely to get an immediate positive reaction to the sole of your shoe.

Now before you go postal on me, let me say that the facade only gets you in the door. What keeps you there and gains you a front row seat in life, is the content. The inside bits. The who-you-are part. The stuff that matters.

The unfair thing here is that you may not even get a look in if you don’t get the looking.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far… well, when I was younger anyway, I realised that I was never going to be a supermodel. I didn’t even rate as one of the girls in school who the guys even noticed. Luckily for me, high school finished quickly and I went to university where the geeky computer science boys were overly impressed by my mathematical abilities and the cool code I wrote. At least that is what they told me. At the time, they were not the meterosexual sensitive types that they have since grown in to with help from their good incomes and gorgeous girlfriends. Then they were the boy versions of me – frumpy and unaware of my untapped potential. We had all given up on cool so long ago that we couldn’t care less about what was the latest “in” thing or which shoes would make us appear “all that”. We lived in a bubble that allowed a world where our brains and academic achievements proceeded us and carried us to what we saw as high social plains.

Then the bubble burst…

Work started and people reacted to how I looked. I was a little girl with no sense of fashion or even a sense of lacking it. I still didn’t care. It annoyed me a little. People who dressed well seemed to get the ear and the trust of the big important people who wore expensive shoes with names that meant zip to me.

I persisted. This ridiculous world of superficial imbalance wasn’t going to devalue me for not conforming to it. I would resist until they saw me for who I was and valued me. It worked but it took a while. When I moved on in my career to different jobs and roles, I had to prove myself again and again. I put a lot of this down to the fact that I was a woman working in a man’s world. That was partially true. It was always going to be tough ride.

Don’t get me wrong, I dressed in suits and business clothes and tried to blend in as much as possible. Maybe if I appeared to be like everyone else then I’d get the chance to show how different and valuable I was. It worked but it took a while.

My most fashionable friend Jennifer Coombes took me under her wing, in my later years in Canberra. We would meet up for coffee and shopping. We started with funky toe socks at the time. Then we moved on to fashion jewellery and long winter scarves that looked like the one from Dr Who but were made by some cool brand name that still meant zip to me. My wardrobe changed from business suits to expensive business suits with fancy stockings and stiletto black leather boots. Heads turned. Attitudes changed. When I changed the job scene or the social one, it didn’t take so long for people to see my uniqueness and obvious brilliance. In fact, I started getting upset that they didn’t actually wait long enough to see me do really cool stuff. It was shallow. It was effective.

Of course, I worked bloody hard and was fantastic at what I did. The only difference now was that I looked the way they expected someone with my talents to look. It worked and it did not take a while. It pained me at first until the day I realised that I could make the difference I wanted to make now and in good time. The hollow men followed and listened and benefitted and felt no pain in doing it.

As I became more well known for what I could do, what I had done and who I was, I did one thing that the shallow types never expected. I gave people who didn’t have the right shoes a chance. Doors opened for them that never did for me without much hard work or Burberry. We benefitted from their skills early. They got the chance to make a difference and contribute without selling out.

Did I sell out? I don’t think so. I hung on to the wonderful soul and stomp around in wonderful soles. Each day, I still make sure that although I care about what I wear, I will never give a shit about what anyone else wears.

Liking Orange Shoes

9 thoughts on “Selling My Sole – Guest Shoe Blog Post by Damana Madden

  1. The shoes! The black and white shoes! I have those shoes! They were my interview shoes for the shoe job I went for. And they were much admired because they are *awesome*.

    Now I will read the blog post. I was so excited at seeing ‘my’ shoes!

  2. I’ve read it now. Gorgeous, brave, strong post. What a fantastic woman you are. You have a rare outlook, I think. Thanks for sharing it so succinctly.

  3. God, but I love this blog!

    Madam Gabfran, your tenacity is awe inspiring, as is your weird witch like ability to find (bully) fantastic women to blog for you.
    Some of the most eloquent, inspirational, delightful and moving tales are told here. I love it.

    @Damana Honey, you’ve got it all going on, don’t let anyone tell you different and those shoes are t o d i e f o r. *drools*

  4. It sounds like the shoes and fashion you wear are a reflection of you ergo…in my book you are not a sell-out.

    I am a 48-year old mom – I think it took me 45 years to finally figure out my fashion “identity” – and I ain’t never going back! Granted, four kids over the course of 18 years means that I was in and out of maternity clothes, nursing bras, losing weight, gaining weight…

    Anyway, I decided a couple of years ago – no, I REALIZED – that my fashion choices existed mostly in the junior sections of stores.

    I am a full-time mom. Home-schooling for 20 years. But I am a maverick. It’s just who I am, so there. I do not dress like a 48-year mother of four (with my oldest getting ready to turn 26 in a week or so – AAAGGGHHH!)

    I also don’t dress like a teenager. But my size (I’m 5’0 tall), my body type (getting leaner and meaner by the day as I am more than half-way through losing last 20 lbs. and I work-out regularly), and my style sense dictate that I cannot/do not wear what I see as “old lady clothes” in so many of the women’s depts.

    I wear low-ride jeans cuz they complement my figure. I wear snazzy sexy undergarments because they make me feel hot. I wear halter tops and tank tops in the summer because it IS hot, and they just look GOOD. (In the winter I do have to cover up, it gets downright cold here, but then I try to wear awesome jackets and BOOTS…I love boots!)

    I wear cute wedgies and love my sandals and I will not dress like an old lady…or conservatively…and I WILL take the time to look good cuz like the old L’Oreal commercials said, “I’m worth it!”

    And so are you, and you, and you…

  5. Brilliant! I am so sorry to have fallen behind and missed this beautiful post. Damana, this is the best explanation of why I should, perhaps, try making my outside match my inside. I’m a slouch, I admit. Thank you for your thoughtful introspection, for sharing yourself with us, and for finally caving in to our dear Gabfran.

  6. Pingback: Where the bloody hell are you?* « Caveat Calcei

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