Submitted by RJ Formanek
“I can fit in, but I am not the same. Let me be me, and I will make you proud of that decision, because when you allow me to be myself, I can help change the world.”
“Why Red Shoes?”
That is a question I often get, as originator of the concept of red shoes for FASD.
Why did I choose to wear red shoes, and what do they signify to me?
That is not exactly an easy question to answer in a short time, but please let me attempt to do that here.
The first thing that comes to mind is the style of shoe. It’s a throwback to when I was a child, when we wore canvas running shoes. Years before space age materials and air bladders, there was the canvas runner. Way back when, they came in two colours, black or white. Red ones were an amazing thing.
So, the style is a throwback to an earlier time, when things were much simpler, a childhood time of new experiences and growth, of hope and of course running faster than I’d ever gone before. Those shoes were a type of freedom of movement, comfortable and light. They were fast shoes.
The colour red; fire, blood the colour of the heart.
Red is a colour to notice, often used to denote danger, or impart an important message.
Red is flashy. Red is hot. Red is a not a quiet colour; red is full of energy and noise.
These were the thoughts in my mind as I looked and found the ‘perfect’ red shoes, memories of a time of freedom, both of thought and of mind, remembering the hope of childhood.
You see, my red shoes were always a very personal statement, one intended only for me to understand.
To me, they denoted that I was in fact different than my peers, I had known and felt that nearly as long as I can remember… that I was different. That often I would stand out, for various reasons. I knew that.
It’s not something that caused me grief or sadness most of the time. For some unknown reason, I felt a certain ‘strength’ that grew as I became more and more of an outlier in my own social circles.
Standing out is not always a negative thing, and while it can be the loneliest feeling for some people, I was able to find ways to show people that I did in fact think and act differently. I was not ashamed.
It was a natural thing for me to grow my hair long and to dress in ways that spoke of my own freedom of thought and action; that the societal norms did not fit me, nor did I often fit them.
It was always important that I was able to convey a message through how I dressed or looked.
That is the ‘historical perspective’, and how I came to find red shoes as a personal symbol of the type of person I am, and wanted to be. Not bound by others’ ideas or concepts, but free to learn about life and all it had to offer on my own terms, in my own time, no matter what society in general thought.
Click here for the full blog post by RJ. Formanek.
RJ. Formanek is an advocate and educator working to improve supports for people with FASD. For more information, visit www.redshoesrock.com.