After a friend shared this article with me the other night, I sat and reflected, as I was able to relate to it on many different levels. Kathryn Laudadio lost her life to suicide after an ongoing battle with anorexia, depression, and bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, her demons out rivaled her rational thoughts.
Sure, my heart went out to her close family and friends who are still struggling from her loss. But, the two most significant aspects of Kathryn’s story that kept recurring in my mind were her personal psychological battle and her confidence and passion for shoes.
Throughout my life, I have had a reputation for owning an exuberant amount of shoes, mostly athletic ones. Because of my soccer background and success on the field, I felt most confident in a sporty pair. Whether it was Nike Air Max, Shox, or Free’s, I had the newest pair, chose the brightest colors, and knew the names of every brand that existed. My first job ever was even working at Running Fit, a running shoe store, in Michigan at the age of 16.
Growing up, I remember going to the mall and shopping with my mom on many occasions. I would fill up a fitting room with jeans, tops, sweaters, dresses, and more. All items that excited me, and only hoped would look as good on me as they did on display. However, the majority of the time, I would leave the stores empty-handed. The jeans were too tight in the legs, the top didn’t fit quite right in my arms, the sweaters made me look heavy, and the other pants were just so extraordinarily long that the style would have disappeared after alterations.
I knew I wasn’t fat, per se, but I was short, athletic, and had the typical soccer thighs. This figure was not the model body for trendy jeans or pants. So after seeing the way the clothes looked on the mannequins, I, obviously, was highly discouraged after trying them on and gazing at myself in the trifold mirror.
Then, feeling disappointed and dispirited about myself and my body, we eventually made our way back to the shoe department. Without doubt, I would spot a fun, trendy, and colorful pair of shoes. My mom always encouraged me to try them on, and instantly, my confidence and spirit returned. Of course they fit me, and of course they looked good on me, and of course they made me happy, so of course I needed another pair of shoes!
I smile thinking that shoes helped Kathryn “cope.” I am ecstatic that her legacy will live on and her shoes will be put to good use. Starting July 27, they will be on sale at Fashion Project, and proceeds will benefit Project HEAL, an organization that raises funds for people who suffer from eating disorders but can’t afford treatment.
I, too, have always turned to shoes for confidence, glow, and personality. Even in my darkest days, shoes always seemed to help distract myself from negative body image issues. I admired my feet — a gift I was given to establish my identity as a competitive, driven, and high-achieving soccer player. I, forever, will be thankful for my set of feet and will continue to dress them in shoes that make me cheerful.