‘Will work for shoes’? You are dead to me.


When poking around social media to find professional women to connect with, I noticed a trend. A disturbing trend: An alarming number of female businesswomen include in their social media descriptor: “Will work for shoes.”




What the …. ?!

What moron will work for shoes? Shoes cost, what? $80 or $200 or, maybe if you’re crazy, $1,000? I don’t work for $80 or $1,000. I work for a living. I work to pay my bills and give my kids and myself a good quality of life. I work to build wealth and security, maybe even to contribute to the world in various, meaningful ways.

But shoes? Bitch, please.

Nothing wrong with liking shoes. Shoes are a big thing right now. All those sexy gravity-defying stilettos, charming wedges and or a bold, above-the-knee boot. But women’s shoes are not without their politics, and neither is devoting your public platform to their worship.

Foot binding in China aside, high heels have been a thing of controversy since their advent. The crippling footwear has been considered a handicap for women aiming to sprint away from, say, domestic violence or a cat call. They can also be an asset to the woman who wields with skilled, subtle power the intoxicating thrust of her bosom and bum, the elongated leg and showcasing of elegance that an elevated shoe affords.

But this paradox is not at play on a Twitter bio. No, what these footwear aficionados want to express is: Hey world, I’m kooky and fun! I like funky footgear! Like me! Work with me! Give me your money!

What they really relay is that they are worth little but an over-priced, bunion-making fashion statement. That you are a materialistic, and small-minded woman. Yes, woman. Because I have never heard a man say that he works for anything even remotely as frivolous as an accessory.

The terminology in and of itself is self-defeating. The term “Will work for” more typically terminates with the word “food” – the most basic reason to work, beating out even clothes or shelter. Like you, when I hear, “Will work for food,” I imagine grubby drifters with the saying scribbled on cardboard as they wait by the roadside, a homeless person crouched in a city doorway with an empty coffee cup inscribed with the same. “Will work for” signifies desperation, the offer to exchange valuable skills and effort in exchange for the most basic of payment.

Alternatively, if your income is earmarked for accessories, it suggests that your pay is not essential to your household. Instead, your contribution is but a frivolous fancy, one used only as fun money for nature-defying footwear.

Is this what you want to express about yourself? Your business and career? Is that how you want to live your life?

Didn’t think so.

Thankfully, most of us in this country are far above that existence. And if you examine your business for even a quick moment, you will recognize that your goals are far more than a lousy pair of shoes. My goals are enormous –giant and scary. So big that a pair of fuchsia Louboutin crocodile pumps would be but a passing whimsy of a purchase (if that were my weakness). I want to express my ambition and the greatness that I believe make those goals a reality. When I tell you about my big dreams and successes, I tell you about my big mind and heart. But when you hide your greatness behind strappy sandals, you make yourself – and your dreams and your business – small and petty.

So park those pumps. Reserve them for hitting the pavement. Tell me who you really are. Your spirit and brilliance. I want to work with you because you are large and powerful and we will do great things together. And then, when we’ve killed it and it’s all squared away in the bank, you and I will celebrate over lunch. And since it was such a fabulously successful quarter, we’ll treat ourselves to a shoe shopping trip afterwards.

A version of this post originally appeared on DailyWorth.


Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.

Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

7 thoughts on “‘Will work for shoes’? You are dead to me.

  1. Great article. Have verbalized everything that I ever thought about such expressions of shoe fetishes – and this coming from someone that loved shoes prior to child. :-)

  2. I do love shoes, but I work for money. And I am wearing LL Bean moccasins now, a pair about a year old to replace a pair that lasted 18 years (they were resoled at least four times). Anyway, I’d rather hear that people work for shoes than that they “don’t do this to get rich”, my pet peeve – but work isn’t trivial.

  3. Women and shoes. Sheesh. I have a friend I’ve known for decades who buys lots of shoes, and I never see her wear anything but the sneakers shes buys.

    I have a few pair, mostly old ones that I transitioned to the garage for lawn mowing. I have three pairs I wear weekly: 1 pair of black dress shoes (for work), 1 pair of hiking shoes (for exercise), 1 pair of steel-toed boots (for when I role-play as “construction worker” to pick up women at the bar — or doing repairs around my house or a friends.) I do have a 12-year-old pair of flip-flops I wear to the pool occasionally. How many more pairs of shoes can a person need? I guess I could maybe understand a black and a brown pair of dress shoes, but if you color-code everything to either “black” or “brown”, then you only need one. (I color-code to “black” because it closely resembles my own melancholy disposition. Ha!)

  4. I can’t begin to describe how much I agree with this article. Why do so many women feel that they have to justify themselves using cutesy, frivolous language? Are we afraid of intimidating someone? Too bad. Or, are we afraid of ourselves, of our own ambition because we’ve been taught that it’s unladylike or unseemly?

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