Saturday, March 14, 2015

Oh damn, she has really nice taste: "Shoes of Saudi Arabia"

pink Nikes Shoes of Saudi Arabia Pop Culture Middle East blog
Sarrah is a 24 year old IT professional from Mecca.
Sarrah has been taking piano lessons from me since the summer of last year. She was gracious enough to let me interview her and to be my interpreter for the day. My plan was to hit up the mall, where I would typically see Saudi women outside of my compound. Before we started, we sat down at a cafe first for her interview.
What are your favourite pair of shoes and why?
My pink Nikes, because... I don't know! They were my first running shoes that I bought after I really got into working out a lot. I had running shoes before, but I really wanted these ones. I wore them all the time to work out. At first I just used them to work out, but then I started wearing them everywhere, to the mall or whatever.

Do you wear them because they're comfortable?
Yeah they're really comfortable and I really wanted them in that colour specifically. Every time I would go to places, they would have a different colour and they would say, "We have the blue ones or the purple ones," but I would say no. Even thought I don't have a lot of pink stuff, I wanted them in that colour!
Because I don't know! It says... It has that attitude of, I'm sporty, but I'm still a girl.
So pink's not your favourite colour?
No no.
But it makes you stand out a bit.
I guess so yeah.

How do they make you feel?
I guess what I was talking about before. I guess they make me feel sporty, I guess that's how I feel about myself. I think I like them the most, they're girly and I see myself as a little bit girly, but at the same time I really like to be active, sporty and fit, so that's probably why.

What do you do in your shoes? And think of all the pairs that you own. Think of what shoes you use to do different activities.
Well I have formal shoes for work, which I probably don't wear outside of work. I guess those are my dress shoes. Outside of work I just like to be comfortable. I would wear those pink Nikes, Tom's, Converse. Just something I'm comfortable in. After work or in the evenings... The only time I would wear heels is for parties or weddings.
That's pretty common. I'm finding that women do what they have to do, they just wear their shoes, you know? There's not really any impediment. Mostly everyone wants to be comfortable.
Yeah even my dress shoes for work are comfortable.
Yeah because you're walking around all day. Or sitting around all day, I don't know what you do.
That's actually right, I am sitting around all day!

How do you think about them in relation to your overall outfit? Your abaya?
So if I'm just going out casually I don't really care in relation to my abaya. If I'm going to the mall I want to wear something comfortable. But then again I think everything goes with the abaya, maybe it's just me. But if I'm going out then actually I would think about my outfit, I'm going to be taking off my abaya anyways. So it has to suit what I'm wearing underneath.
It's a little different than what you were saying before about your sweater, where you can't wear one on top of your abaya because it doesn't match. You instead just wear layers underneath your abaya. I guess because the shoes are more of an everyday thing, whereas the sweater you almost never need. 

How do you think others will see you or judge you by the shoes you wear?
Um OK so you know the pink shoes? One time my sister and my auntie wanted to go to the mall and walk around and get a couple things and then have coffee. So I just put on my pink shoes because I was tired and my sister said, "Oh my God no I don't want to be seen walking around with you wearing these!" And I was like, I don't care! So I started to walk around obnoxiously like, I'm wearing pink shoes, deal with it! I don't care what people think, but I do care that my shoes do look good with my outfit. I have to look presentable for work, for formal gatherings, but it's not in the sense that I care what people think.
(Like many young Saudis, Sarrah received a government scholarship to study in the US.) In the States did you wear your pink shoes?
I didn't have them then, but my style was different in the States. The weather is a factor and another thing is, there was less of a need to dress up. Here I have to be formal at work, weddings. I don't have any of that in the US. I didn't need my heels. Most of the time I wore shoes I found comfortable, they were casual and looked nice.
Like boots?
Yeah all boots. I had no reason to wear my dress shoes.
I guess there wasn't someone getting married every other weekend. 
Yeah, yeah.

How do you see or judge others by their shoes?
Umm I've never really thought of that. I mean if I see someone with a really nice pair of shoes I think, "Oh damn, she has really nice taste." Or maybe she has expensive taste. If I see someone who buys expensive running shoes, OK that person maybe cares more about sports or working out than if someone's wearing sneakers at the gym. So I guess maybe in that sense.

Do you make sure that you wear a different pair of shoes every time you go out in public?
No. Comfort first always. I always have a couple shoes that I wear the most. My Tom's, I have two different colours of them, I wore them until they ripped, literally. And then I throw them out and I buy something else. It's just a variation of two or three.

What do you want your shoes to say about you?
Um I don't know.
Like if someone were to see you and didn't know you.. I mean what you wear is part of your personality. What do you think the message is, that you're sending to people?
I think that I'm sending the message of comfort, style. That's on an everyday basis. But at work I do care a lot that my shoes are formal. I'm sure that there are comfortable, more... I don't know what you'd call it... More comfortable works shoes that I could wear, but I want them to be elegant and to match my outfit. I guess I give off a different message depending on the situation. I guess if I'm talking about my everyday shoes I'm a casual, comfortable, sporty person.

That's funny because from our limited interaction I wouldn't say that you were sporty. I guess that's because I associate sporty with Sporty Spice, with her arm band and tattoos, but I can see from the way that you dress with your sports jacket and pants...
Another thing is a lot of times I would come straight from work to lessons so that probably gave off one kind of personality as opposed to the times you saw me at the cafe in the compound where my outfit and attitude is different.
See I think that the way I dress is comfortable. If you think you dress comfortable then I must be a lazy blob on the floor.
That's another thing, you know when you were talking about how in the US the types of shoes I would wear... I would say that they're comfortable, while trying to be stylish, but all of my American friends or even strangers would comment that I'm fashionable. Compared to them, it's not comfortable but stylish, but compared to here I'm not as stylish.

That's very common.
They're so overdressed here!
I'd say they're very brand conscious, it seems that there's always somebody there to say something.
But they're also on an extreme level. They wear designer label. They're on that level. Loubotins. Would you ever see a person who's not a celebrity wear those kind of shoes in the US? Another thing is, the Christian Dior sneakers are in fashion now and they're really ugly, but girls here buy them because they're designer. So even when they buy their sneakers, they have to be Christian Dior.

So do you buy your shoes here or outside of Saudi?
It depends. When I go to the US, I really like to go shopping at outlet malls. Before I came back from school and even when I visited my sister at her graduation, I bought a couple. I like to find the different kind of styles than what you'd find here.

No comments:

Post a Comment