Just for the record, I happened to be wearing safety shorts under that dress.
It turned out to be a wise choice.
Imagine wearing shoes that don't fit, shoes so old they're nearly falling apart, shoes that are meant for the opposite sex. Now imagine spending a day in them.
As part art project, part social experiment, Aislinn Thomas decided last November that she'd try taking the phrase "put yourself in someone else's shoes" literally.
Since then, the University of Guelph art student has borrowed shoes from friends, family members and complete strangers, wearing them for a day (or as long as is comfortable) in an attempt to learn about herself and the people around her. While she admitted that it's difficult to know someone by just wearing their shoes, she said she's surprised by how much she's learned since she began.
"I thought (the project) would be . . . doomed because I didn't think there was any way that I could get that kind of a sense of a person from just wearing their shoes," she said. "And I don't (get that sense), necessarily, but I have learned a lot of other things." For instance, Thomas said she's been touched by the generosity people have shown when she explains the project.
"Even strangers have been really generous with me, because shoes are kind of an intimate thing in a way," she said. "Strangers on the street, even in winter - in blowing snow - will take their shoes off and exchange shoes with me."
Of course, not everyone has been so forthcoming. When she first conceived of the notion and pitched it to friends, Thomas said reactions varied.
"The first person I asked seemed a bit hesitant," she recalled. "Some people are really excited about the idea right away. Other people warm up to it."
Thomas established a blog, "In Your Shoes," to share the stories associated with the shoes with a broader audience. One man was so taken with the idea that he actually mailed her his shoes all the way from Pennsylvania. She said she's been surprised and humbled by the response and attention her project has garnered.
"People lend me shoes that have been all over the world, or have seen them through really trying experiences," she said. "(And) I'm thinking, I'm riding my bicycle, is this enough? Am I doing these shoes justice?"
Thomas estimates that she's borrowed about 50 pairs of shoes since she started in November. She has no end in sight for the project, choosing instead to stop "when it sort of comes to its natural conclusion." For now, she said she's not done experimenting.
"I'd like to keep going with it, because I feel like there's still stuff I can learn from it."
To read the stories Thomas has gathered, visit her blog at http://adayinyourshoes.blogspot.com.
(You can also read this story at: http://www.guelphtribune.ca/news/article/139845)