|Jummana and Zainab are both 16 year old students from Qatif.|
Sarrah and I leave our cafe and go looking for a couple more women to interview before she has to meet her friends. We go into an empty restaurant and see three girls sitting down together at a table. Sarrah asks them in Arabic if we can talk to them and two of them say yes.
Zainab: Sports shoes because they are comfortable.
Jummana: In general I like high heels rather than sports shoes.
Jummana: Because I'm short!
So we have two different sisters here!
Do you wear your favourite shoes in public? Why or why not?
Jummana: I wouldn't wear high heels in public because they're not efficient. I just wear them at gatherings.
Zainab: I like sports shoes everywhere.
How do your favourite pair of shoes make you feel?
Jummana: I feel tall!
Zainab: I don't feel tired, I don't get tired quickly because I'm comfortable.
What do you do in your shoes? Do you go to school? Go shopping? Meet friends?
Jummana: I go with my sports shoes to everywhere, school. All of my shoes are sports shoes, it doesn't matter where.
Zainab: I like high heels, not because I wear them all the time but because they look prettier and that kind of thing, but I'll wear comfortable shoes if I need to.
How do you think about your shoes in relation to your outfit and to your abaya?
Zainab: With the abaya I don't care, it doesn't matter if I wear anything. But with my outfit I pay attention to the details, what shoes go with what dress...
Jummana: All of my shoes are black or blue so it doesn't matter.
Why are they all black or blue?
I like it.
Are those your favourite colours?
How do you think people will see or judge you by the shoes you wear?
Zainab: Bright colours give off a strong personality or a more forward, bold personality, not like Jummana who only wears black and blue! She's calmer and...
Jummana: I don't think people can say anything about a person from their shoes.
Do you make sure that you wear a different pair of shoes every time you go out?
Zainab: I don't change them daily, I'll wear one pair of shoes per week.
Jummana: I wear whatever I like.
What do you want your shoes to say about you?
Zainab: If I wore something that was in fashion or stylish, then I would want people to know that I was fashionable and stylish.
Jummana: Because I don't judge people by their shoes, I don't care what my shoes say about me.
With that, we leave them with their friend and go out of the restaurant. Sarrah goes to join her friends and I take a taxi back to the compound.
This interview makes me think about what it was like to be back in high school. These two are the youngest participants I've interviewed and their answers are not so different than what many of my classmates' or mine would have been back then. I certainly wore heels to school in grade 10 because I was trying out new things, seeing if this was the kind of style I could adopt. Even though it didn't stick, many girls my age did the same - trying on different shoes and clothes and styles, to see if this was the person they would grow into being.
The more we got into the interview the more confident Zainab became, as she began to answer the questions first before her friend. Jummana chose to answer in English, so it was certainly harder for her to express herself, but you could almost detect a hint of animosity or competition from her towards her friend. Zainab told me later that Jummana is like her sister and while I never had one, the same thing definitely happened (and still does!) between my brother and I. Many of my participants have been women in their early to mid 20s so I welcomed the change and the memories this interview brought.