An Exciting Announcement

Sunny Brownby Lee Ann “Sunny” Brown 


Happy New Year! I wish you all a healthy and prosperous 2014, with the new year full of love and laughter. For my column this month, I am excited to share an excerpt adapted from an essay from my forthcoming book:


High in Heels–I’m Tripping!

A shoe memoir of humor essays


The Status Symbol

Maybe I became obsessed with shoes because it took me so long to get my first pair.

When I was just a few months old, my parents began to notice that I was not developing normally. It took them that long. They noticed with some concern that I hadn’t yet started to crawl or become mobile at the usual ages and stages that babies begin doing these things. After taking me to several doctors, and many x-rays later, it turned out that I had not developed any hip sockets. So I spent the next two years of my life in a body cast that went from under my armpits down to my toes, with my legs rotated out at the hips. It was apparently during this time, in my body cast confinement, that I became absolutely obsessed with people walking, and according to my mother, my very first word was “walk.” I can only assume that it’s safe to say that since I was so obviously fascinated by people walking, I would also be fascinated by the cute little things that they wore on their feet when they did this: the shoes!

I was around 3 years old before my body cast came off and I could begin learning to walk, and that’s when I got my first pair of shoes. It’s strange that I don’t remember them, or, in fact, remember ever even seeing a photo of them, for it surely must have been a momentous occasion. I am certain, though, that this event in my life did have an effect on me; it created a deep-rooted and lasting obsession with shoes. And, although I don’t remember my actual first pair of shoes, I do remember the first pair of shoes that I became obsessed with.

When I was swinging in a special swing made for me in the living room of our house, I became fascinated by a pair of bookends that sat on the highest shelf right next to my mother’s bowling trophy. It was a pair of my older brother’s baby shoes, and my mother had had them bronzed and made into a pair of bookends. When my cast came off almost three years later, they were the first things I went for. That is when I first realized that shoes are so much more than something you wear on your feet to walk in, more than just a utilitarian piece of your functional daily uniform. At just 3 years old, I realized that shoes were a status symbol. And my older brother clearly held top ranking.

Shoes can be symbols of important events in life, obviously, or they wouldn’t bronze them and display them on pedestals to be admired like works of art. They are a kind of reward; they represent an achievement, a milestone. That is what they have represented to me ever since I laid eyes on the bronzed pair. That’s why I buy myself a new pair every time I successfully make it through another week.

So, after years of trying to find a pair of bronze shoes, I finally decided that if I couldn’t find a pair of full-grown, adult-sized bronze shoes, I would just have to have a pair of my favorite ones bronzed. But I am not turning them into bookends. I am wearing mine.

Wearing these shoes is proof that I have achieved something, even if it is only the fact that I can walk in them, or stand for four hours in 6 1/2” heels—that is something. And now I finally have the bronze shoes to prove it.


Photographer: Billy Brown; Photo Assistant: Kenny Walters; Hair Styling: Shelby McDonald; Makeup: Lindsay Garrett; Wardrobe Stylist: Tracy James (Chic Made Simple)

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