When I was ten years old, I started noticing the shoes boys wore in my class. They wore a mixture of Jordan 3s and 4s and I was envious. I rushed home to ask my dad to buy me a pair, but he refused, claiming they were a boy’s shoe and didn’t suit me. So instead of wearing those shoes, I started compiling a list of sneakers I wanted to buy when I grew up. It wasn’t until I was twenty years old when I finally bought my first pair of Jordan’s. They were a used pair of Jordan 5s in the fire red colorway. I was so geeked to have them. I remember cleaning them and just holding them while sitting on my bedroom floor; admiring the shoe’s design, memorizing every crease on the toe box, or how there was more heel drag on the left shoe than the right. Despite the shoe’s imperfections, I loved them. I finally got to mark a pair of shoes off my list.
As I joined sneaker forums to find more shoes I soon realized how male-dominated the sneaker scene was. I felt out of place in every sneaker consignment and luxury shop I entered. I was routinely ignored while my male counterparts were greeted and assisted by shop employees. The male employees treated me like I was a ghost, almost like I didn’t exist, and would brush me aside as they rushed to assist Travis Scott wannabes. I thought I was doing something wrong, and every time I did catch one of the shop employee’s attention, I would immediately apologize for bothering them even though it’s their job to assist me.
I went to a sneaker boutique in Costa Mesa for a pair of Vans only sold in boutique sneaker stores. They didn’t have my size, so I asked to buy the display shoe since it was just a half size smaller than what I wear, but they refused to sell it to me because “It’s a display shoe, so we rarely sell them.” They said this while another employee was selling a pair of display CDG Converse to a male customer. When I pointed that out, the employee dismissed me and put the shoe back on display. Being rejected like that was the last straw; I was fed up, and I was getting my shoe no matter what. I went back to the store three times in the same day, talking to different shop employees to see if one of the employees would sell them to me, and they did. When he rang me up, the employee asked, “Is this for an event or something? Is that why you want them so badly?” “No,” was the answer. I bought a pair of shoes I can’t even wear comfortably because I simply loved them. I didn’t need a grand answer to why I was so persistent. It wasn’t my fault they didn’t take me seriously and dismissed me when I first asked. After that day, I stopped caring about how these shop employees treated me. I was done apologizing for simply taking up space in these stores. I wasn’t going to allow male employees to disregard me just because I didn’t look like their typical customer. All I cared about was getting the shoes I wanted, and if that meant advocating for myself in these male-dominated spaces, then so be it.
Since almost day 1, all I wanted was to be a part of the sneaker community. I wanted a place where I felt I belonged. Where I could talk about what OG Jordan 1 colorways I wanted to be retroed or what sneaker silhouettes are best to pair with baggy jeans. I’m no “sneakerhead,” I don’t have the money to stunt a vast collection, but I love sneakers, and I have every right to be in the same spaces as those who do. There wasn’t a place for me in “their” community, but I made a space for myself and any woman who wants to join. I stopped paying mind to the men, to the boys, who would call me a poser while they wore sneakers with Stock X verified tags dangling from their shoe and the male shop employees treating me like I don’t exist in their stores. All I care about is fulfilling my dream to attain all the sneakers I’ve wanted since I was ten. I’m on a hunt for my shoes, and no boy will get in my way.