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Is there more to life than shoes? Well, obviously – even if you take shoes as a metaphor for clothes and fashion in general – I think it’s safe to say that our lives do not revolve around what we wear. Except perhaps, for clothes-designers and ‘dedicated followers of fashion’. Yet More To Life Than Shoes is the title of a national network for women who are interested in the serious aspects of life and who want to achieve meaningful goals. A bit stereotypical, don’t you think? The assumption is that women are the ones who, without peer support, may turn to footwear for comfort. Also a bit obscure. When I told a friend that I was going to attend a group of this name, he quipped that, of course there was more to life than shoes – boots, trainers, sandals…
So, maybe the name is not the best. But what about the club itself? It claims to help young women to identify and meet their aspirations. In their words, they’re about “getting inspired and making it happen” (www.moretolifethanshoes.com). It is a nationwide network, but Lancaster is the first university to bring the group to students, where members meet once a month, paying £2 each time. I decided to give it a go.
The fifth meeting of the academic year took place in the comfy, spacious Furness Senior Common Room, and the group leader was friendly and welcoming. A promising start. We waited for everyone to turn up – everyone being around 10 people. A not so promising start. There was a mix of freshers, second year undergraduates and postgraduates.
We took part in various activities, including one where we had to think of an event which had changed our lives. One girl told us that while she was studying for her GCSEs, her mother had become ill and had to move back to her home country. Her father was always working and her brothers were at university, which meant that she was practically living alone for almost a year. So she had to grow up much faster than she had expected. This was an inspiring story, but I don’t think I would feel comfortable telling a group of people I’ve only just met about my personal life. That’s what close friends and family are for. But maybe that’s just me.
At the end of the session, which took about an hour and a half, we had to set ourselves an action plan. I joined the gym at the beginning of the academic year but I don’t go as much as I should, so my action plan, with the help of other group members, was to go more often. Not much of a plan. Why do I need More To Life Than Shoes to help me do this? I could just take a minute by myself and think about what needs to be done to reach my goals, while saving time and money. In any case, my real goals in life are more important than going to the gym regularly. I thought that More To Life Than Shoes would be more proactive in helping me achieve these goals. But it just didn’t seem to have that push. However, perhaps it’s not fair to make a judgement after only one meeting, and while I didn’t find it helpful, others seemed to, so its value might depend on the type of person you are.
Of course there is more to life than shoes, but you shouldn’t take life too seriously. It’s good to have goals and ambitions, but you also need time to relax and have fun. Fashion, frivolity and extravagance help to make life more enjoyable, and sometimes we all need some retail therapy.