I hate buying new running shoes. The cushion and support in my shoes’ soles always wears thin before the exteriors are adequately mucky and throw-away-worthy, and I feel angry and a little guilty about tossing shoes that, according to their appearance, are still very wearable in favor of a new, overpriced pair.
But what I hate more is the process of buying new running shoes, a shopping experience second in terribleness only to buying new jeans. I always have a hard time finding a pair that suits me, a task made more difficult by my flat-footedness, my thin wallet, and my refusal to buy running shoes that say HELLO! I am a woman! Therefore I must wear pastels!
Oh, dear. Pink athletic equipment. How I loathe it.
Of course, I don’t loathe those who choose to buy pink running shoes. It’s just… I grew up with two brothers. Sure, I’ve liked to wear dresses since I was little (primarily because my mom made them), and I went through my canopy bed phase. But I’ve never been the girliest of girls. I never played too much with Barbies, and I gave up on My Little Ponies when my brothers persisted on styling their hair into mohawks when I left the toys to dry on the bathroom sink after shampooing their manes. I also never wore much pink because, as a redhead, pink often makes me look, frankly, like an unfortunate, washed-up Strawberry Shortcake.
But what is a pink-averse female runner to do when so many of the available styles are baby pink, bubble gum pink, carnation pink, hot pink, and shocking pink? Have shoe designers truly decided that making a shoe pink is the best shorthand for “female”? And why do my shoes have to announce my femininity, anyway? And why aren’t men offered more pink options?
I know that many sporting goods companies have partnered with breast cancer awareness charities, and that the proceeds from many pairs of pink running shoes benefit the Susan G. Komen foundation. But really. No excuse. I would be happy to have a portion of the proceeds from my green, or navy blue, or orange tennis shoes contributed to research and awareness efforts.
Of course, I could attribute the proliferation of pink equipment to a host of issues related to gender and athletics — issues of inadequate funding and respect, of condescension, of heteronormativity and athletic standards and policies. And of TOO MUCH PINK. Just today, for example, I received an email inviting me to attend one men’s basketball game for $10, two for $15, and two men’s games and a women’s game for just one dollar more!
But really, I just want my non-pink running shoes. Yesterday I ended up with a pair of astronaut-silver and traffic-cone-orange Nikes (pictured above). Sure, they were the most comfortable pair I tried. But they are also decidedly, and boldly, not pink.