Whether you sport a pair of Nikes, Jimmy Choos, or ugly old Crocs, everybody reading this list owns a pair of shoes. Footwear plays an important part in our lives, whether it’s keeping our toes safe, making us look cool, or helping us seem just a little bit taller. And as one of mankind’s oldest inventions, shoes have had plenty of time to change our lives and take their toll on our bodies.
Bill Nye Saved Ballerinas’ Feet
Bill Nye is one of the most popular scientists on the planet. He’s popped up in the news lately thanks to a series of public debates, but when he’s not dancing with the stars or posing with Jay-Z, Nye keeps himself busy by, oddly enough, inventing ballet slippers.Nye is very concerned about ballerina feet. After filming an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy at the Pacific Northwest Ballet, he noticed something disturbing. A lot of the ballerinas were wearing bloody shoes. Bill realized when the dancers perform en pointe, gravity pushes down on their bodies while the floor pushes back up. These combined forces wreck dancers’ feet, so Nye decided to invent a better ballet slipper. Named the “Toe Shoe,” Nye’s slipper comes with a specially-designed box that protects the toes while supporting the soles, saving ballet dancers from some really nasty injuries.
What’s a chef without an apron, a doctor without a stethoscope, a prostitute without platform shoes? Footwear has always been an important part of a hooker’s ensemble. In Japan, royal concubines tottered around elevated getas, and courtesans in Renaissance-era Venice accompanied noblemen while balancing on 75-centimeter (30 inch) heels. However, perhaps the strangest pair of seductive sandals came from Ancient Greece, where everything was legal and prostitutes paid taxes.Back when the gods hung out on Mt. Olympus, the lowest of the lowly hookers were known as “pornai” (care to guess which modern-day word derives from that?). Many of the pornai were slaves, stolen from areas like Thrace and modern-day Turkey. Considered barbarians because they couldn’t speak Greek, the pornai worked the streets, hustling on the dusty, unpaved roads. While these dirt paths were probably murder in the rain, they were perfect for free advertising. The pornai wore studded sandals that imprinted phrases like “follow me” in the sandy streets, leaving a trail for any prospective john. And not a lot has changed since the days of Zeus. Inspired by these ancient shoes, a group called The Aphrodite Project has created a special pair of heels that come with a siren for scaring off attackers and a GPS tracker in case the wearer disappears.