All women love shoes. Or at least, that is the common belief. Many women do not love shoes, or are neutral on the subject, but that particular cliche is not going anywhere anytime soon. Hell will likely freeze over before human society lets go of women and shoes. Part of it can be attributed to a level of necessary reality– historically, and even today, the more complicated nature of women’s fashion tends to require more shoe styles than menswear does. However, the bigger reason is that cliche carries on is that, after a few centuries, shoes have become highly symbolic.

A girl gaining a serious interest in shoes is usually seen as her forming her own sense of style and, thus, identity as a woman. This is further emphasized if the shoes are high heels. Heels are an exclusively adult style, so a girl getting her first pair often regards this as a major milestone in growing up. CLC take this viewpoint in “High Heels”.

See, here’s the secret to looking hot
Look at me, everything looks different
with just a pair of heels (When I say)

CLC view heels as a magic potion, one that instantly makes them prettier and more glamorous. Of course, shoes cannot actually do that, but the confidence they gain is very real. By wearing grown-up shoes, CLC now feel more like grown-up women; more capable and more sure of their place in the world.

Of course, the flipside of heels as a sign of emotional maturity is heels as a sign of sexual maturity. Not for nothing are stilettos often and accurately referred to as “fuck-me heels”. This is the perspective taken by Brave Girls in “High Heels”. Here, they are weapons of seduction.

High heels, look at me
I wore them ‘cause you said you liked them
Sexy high heels, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet
Pick one, tonight is for you

They gain a new confidence, but also a new boldness by wearing stilettos. They give the Brave Girls the courage to make the first move on their boyfriend and assume a sexually aggressive demeanor. However, the self-assurance gained does not limit itself to boyfriend-luring.

A girl who does what she wants
and says what she wants
I’m gonna live like that, I won’t be
self-conscious, I’ll be strong, yeah

High heels turn from items designed to please their boyfriends into something that pleases themselves and, as a result, the Brave Girls themselves more assertive women all around. The external validation they originally sought transformed into an internal sense of pride and power, one that they emphasize by wearing heels.

That sense of power is not limited to just heels. For many women, their shoes are a vital part of their image. They help ensure you are seen the way you want to be seen, as IU does in “New Shoes”.

I’m nervous, aikoo
Tiny whirlpools in my heart
A chilly, sweet wind makes me excited
Tall stairs, narrow alley, I’m going anywhere
Wearing new shoes that fit my heart perfect

To IU, her shoes are a form of armor. She risks being late for a date to make sure she has the perfect pair, because having the right shoes helps her feel more ready. Notably, her shoes are not heels, but red enamel flats. Yet, they still give IU the boost she needs to overcome her nerves, as those are the shoes that match her mood and make her feel good. Her new shoes aren’t a passing fancy, but self-confidence made tangible, which is what most women are really looking for in the shoe store.

Of course, some women really do just love shoes. Mamamoo‘s “Freakin’ Shoes” is the embodiment of the stereotype that ladies are powerless in the face of truly kicking footwear.

Baby come marry me
Freakin shoes x3
Come marry me
Freakin shoes x3
Freakin ma man
Can I try them on these freakin shoes?
Soon they will be mine! Ma love shoes
Won’t you be ma freakin shoes

Mamamoo loves these shoes. They are in love with these shoes. They want to marry these shoes. These shoes are the embodiment of all happiness. Except they are not; Mamamoo are merely engaging in some serious retail therapy. The true impetus behind the shoe lust is loneliness and depression after a long dry spell. Mamamoo are tired and run-down, and the shoes give them a spark of life. Sometimes, indulging in a material passion really can help you cope with the rough parts of life.

Girls and shoes are one of those pairs that shall never be torn asunder. There is too much weight behind them, both cultural and internal, for women to put abandon shoes, practical needs aside. For better or worse, shoes mean things to women, and those meanings have become firmly entrenched in society. And boys, the next time you wonder if women really need that many shoes– yes. Yes, we do.

(Lyrics via ColorCodedLyrics, images via Cube Entertainment, Brave Entertainment, KakaoM, RBW)