The Wonders of Whimsy by Nicole Noel

Irregular Choice Disney Shoes

This is a guest post by Irregular Choice loyalist and Ashbury Skies customer, Nicole Noel

The Wonders Of Whimsy

What do we do when times seem so dark that we cannot find light? We wear shoes with bunny character heels, and the word LOVE lighting up in neon because love is a verb, not a noun, and we have to find ways to walk the walk that we talk.

True to Irregular Choice

I have been collecting Irregular Choice shoes since 2016. There are few websites that carry Irregular Choice in the United States, and even less brick and mortar stores where you can see and try on the shoes. Finding pink elephants is easier. Ashbury Skies has been my go to site be-cause they offer free shipping for orders over $50, have fast delivery, and a good return policy. Sometimes they have good sales. But Irregular Choice shoes are pricey. Not as pricey as Fluevogs, but nonetheless they are never below $75 a pair, unless you find a rare unicorn used pair on one of the several Facebook Irregular Choice groups, but then there is usually shipping fees from the UK to contend with. That said, is collecting Irregular Choice shoes worth the dime? Every penny and more- especially whenever someone tells me that my whimsical shoes make them smile, and they become conversation starters. In these times we need all the smiles from warmth and whimsy we can find. Not from positivity which says there are no problems in the world, like rampant materialism, end stage capitalism, global warming, but spiritual warmth. In every creation story or scientific theory, love and light are invariably where the universe begins. The spirit defines the object, not the other way around. Hence, the wonders of whimsy.

Princess conflict

However, when I first heard about Irregular Choice’s “Princess collection” I was skeptical. Calling someone a “princess” has become a particularly nasty insult. When I was a child, what I found appealing about the princesses in fairy stories was not an identity constructed from inherited wealth, titles, or prince charming. What intrigued me were the ways princesses could be heroines, title characters, with the fiercest of kindness and loyalties. Though I agree with Frances Hodges Burnett’s claim that every girl deserves to be treated like a princess, I still have struggled with the term’s associations “you’re SUCH a princess” is something few like to hear. Yet have Disney’s princesses have created a toxic culture around gender? Have they encouraged girls to be materialistic damsels in distress, striving for whiteness? What if we shift the lens into which we see these stories, and become more inclusive to how *every* girl truly is a princess, a heroine? Evil to him who evil thinks. Hence, are the Evil Queen, Maleficent, and Ursula more anti-heroines instead of villains? Ultimately, how do Disney’s “Princesses” and “Villains” teach us that celebrating and cul-tivating ones inner power and purpose are what makes a heroine, whether she is an “evil” Queen, or princess?

A distraction from the madness

A few days before the launch, one Irregular Choice follower in the UK on instagram commented, “despite the times being beyond terrifying…my joy for Friday is getting me through.” With the shoes itself, I did not know what to expect, until I saw the shoes in a sneak peak in early July.

Early morning wake up call

I set my alarm for 3 am on July 26th to get into the online cue for Irregular Choice, but when 4am hit (noon UK time), Ashbury Skies had listings on their site without any wait time.

It's all about the  details

I ordered the shoes on Friday morning, and by Saturday the shoes had arrived.
Before I unwrapped these Seven’s Company heels from the Princess themed tissue, I noticed a little card that said they were handmade and works of art. Indeed! I am skeptical about character heels for several reasons- they are usually too difficult to walk in. The heel for Seven’s Company is slightly wider than most character heels and are easier to walk in.

Mulan conflict

Sometimes character heels make a visual statement that I am uncomfortable with. As much as I love the Mulan heels, I do not know how I feel about myself as an off-white Hispanic woman walking on top of one of the most bad-assed heroines in Chinese culture. Nonetheless, character heels can make an empowering statement- like the Alice heels and the power of imagination. I did not buy the Mulan heels because I am so over the moon about the Snow White collection that I ordered the Seven’s Company character heels, and, in an after thought, I also ordered the Evil Queen shoes because the only “crown” or tiara we see in this Princess collection is on the anti-heroic Evil Queen. Muhuhaha.

Snow White's expression of compassion

The character heel in the Seven’s Company heel is everything, the heel is Snow White with her forest friends. I like that *this* is what Irregular Choice is focusing on- Snow White being kind to animals, not Snow White in the glass coffin, or being kissed by Prince Charming, or cleaning the house of the Seven Dwarves, or running away in fear. Compassion begins when innocence ends. Snow White’s face on the heel has a knowing smile of compassion- She has escaped terror and the huntsman, but still can find compassion.

This is how we rise

The wonders of the whimsy of fairytales reminds us that embracing the feminine, embracing compassion, is to embrace spirit, is to embrace love. This is how we rise.

Empowering symbolism

The details in The Fairest of Them All bag and boots, An Apple A Day shoes, and tights are equally empowering. On the Apple A Day shoes, it is Snow White’s unafraid and compassion-ate face who takes the apple from the desperate and withered hands of the Evil Queen in disguise as the hag. While I agree with Anne Sexton’s argument about every Snow White becomes the Evil Queen, and as I’m turning 45 in a month, I will nonetheless force myself to laugh lest I be obliged to weep. On the boots and the tights foot is the knowing grin of the Evil Queen and the other is the guileless smile of Snow White- yes we are invariably both Snow White and The Evil Queen. But none of these shoes or boots are the iron shoes, or forms of punishing beauty, they are boots in bright colors with a four inch glittery block heel, and two beautiful faces that remind us to laugh at the constructs of age and gender.

Finding the light

Sometimes I do not know how to continue.  The world breaks me. As I conclude writing these words, there has been another mass shooting, this time in Northern California an hour away from where I live. A little boy named Stephen Romero was one of the victims. His family has described him as a happy child.  Photos of him are all over the internet grinning widely while wearing a t-shirt that boasted, “the Birthday Dude.”  I will never forget his sweet face. yet I straggle along and face each day the best I can. I’ve broken my pocketbook with this collection. But the pieces I have bought are part of my self care, as well as pieces I will keep forever as a way to remember and communicate how to keep light when there seems like no light to create from.

Nicole is a San Francisco High School teacher and Irregular Choice collector

Snow White shoe collection Irregular Choice Disney Princess Snow White Collection





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