Sunday, July 03, 2011

Sunday Rant on Flip-Flops and Baby Strollers

Here's my Sunday rant on two "extreme living" trends:

1. Extreme Flimsy Footwear: Once upon a time, flip-flops were cheap, rubber thongs that you bought at the drug store and only wore in the summer when you went to the beach or washed your car, or maybe wore in the locker room.  Now flip-flops have become almost year-round, everyday footwear that I see everywhere: in airports, shopping malls, downtown DC, on the DC Metro, in restaurants, at ball games, etc.  You'll even see them at the White House on an official visit with the President of the United States (see picture above, and news report here on the "flip-flop scandal" at the White House in 2005; so I guess I'm a little "late to the party" on this foot fashion controversy).

Update: "Hot weather is finally here, but with it, painful foot conditions. A common culprit? Those bbiquitous, thin flip-flops.  They're colorful, cheap, convenient and trendy. But those who specialize in treating foot problems say they're terrible for feet because they offer neither support nor protection against trauma.  They're also dangerous to wear while driving because they can get stuck under the gas pedal or the brake.

Dr. Joseph Stern, a Lower Mainland podiatrist who is president of the Canadian Podiatric Medical Association, said flip-flops should only be worn for short periods, "like from the house to the pool." (Vancouver Sun).


2. Extreme Over-sized Monster Strollers. Once upon a time, baby strollers were flimsy and lightweight with small wheels.   Today, baby strollers have "gone Hummer" with huge wheels, heavy-duty construction, multiple storage compartments, with options like sidecars, sound systems, navigation, air conditioning, and outhouses.  OK, I made up the part about the options, but the stroller pictured above illustrates the typical over-sized Monster Hummer stroller that has invaded Washington, D.C. in large numbers, especially in my neighborhood near the National Zoo - and they create havoc on crowded Metro trains, elevators and the escalators.  Total "excess" in my opinion.

Suggestion: Could we maybe go a little less flimsy on our footwear, and a little more flimsy on our baby strollers?

28 Comments:

At 7/03/2011 9:32 AM, Blogger Tahoe said...

hahahaha ... thank you for a morning chuckle. I see or have similar perspectives and for a couple of reasons. on the flip flops - a time and a place folks - pretty simple. There is always some time and place constraints to anything we do, wear, or say - it's called being civilized. The stroller - our kids are going luxury lifestyle from the crib on up - do we ever wonder where the bigger better stronger consumer mentality is cultivated? Mark - love your blog - appreciate your work very much! Happy Independence Day to all of you!

 
At 7/03/2011 9:51 AM, Blogger The High Priest said...

So is the suggestion here that we should spend more money to have nice superficial things (shoes) and less money on things that matter (children)?

 
At 7/03/2011 10:00 AM, Blogger Fred Dent said...

Our son was born in 1992. My wife had to have the highest-end stroller available for him. I remember the sticker shock of the price. $300. It was a pain to use.
A few years later our daughter was born. We were at Disneyland without a stroller and ran to Walmart to get one. The price was less than $20. It was simple and worked.

 
At 7/03/2011 10:39 AM, Blogger Cabodog said...

Flip-flops are the least of our worries when it comes to today's "fashion" trends, some of which are blatantly offensive.

Kudos to Southwest Airlines for refusing boarding per this article: http://www.salient-news.com/2011/06/refusal-to-pull-up-pants-on-plane-leads-to-arrest/

 
At 7/03/2011 11:02 AM, Blogger Buce said...

What a strange post. Aren't flip-flops and fancy strollers the very essence of market liberalism--differentiated, individual segmented tastes, with no need to explain or justify? As distinct from, say, a nanny state that issues each of us a pair of brown shoes? Or, if you really want to get those girls out of their flipflops, wouldn't the sensible course be simply to offer to buy them?

 
At 7/03/2011 11:21 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

You need a sturdy piece of equipment to roll through the muck of The Swamp, Mark.

 
At 7/03/2011 11:32 AM, Blogger Gene Hayward said...

I teach high school and occassionally go on a rant with my students about the "Flip-Flop" generation. They most ALWAYS agree. How many times (at school or at the mall, wherever) have you had to stop for a student crossing the street at a snails pace because it is not possilbe to walk fast in most "flip-flops". As open as you might be, I guarantee you find yourself mumbling "hurry the heck up!". You know its true! It prompts a lazy gait and a lazy attitude "at the margin"---I am not saying it is a cultural problem and we are doomed. But you have to admit, it promotes a laid-back attitude when it may not be appropriate. I think "kids today" increasing have a harder time distinguishing between the two...

 
At 7/03/2011 11:38 AM, Blogger Emil said...

Bruce,

"What a strange post. Aren't flip-flops and fancy strollers the very essence of market liberalism"

"Market liberalism" says more or less that the government should not intervene in what people buy, it doesn't say that we have to like what they buy. There is a difference between expressing a taste and between calling for something to be forbidden by law

 
At 7/03/2011 1:15 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"especially near the National Zoo where I live"

I hope I'm reading this correctly. :)

 
At 7/03/2011 1:17 PM, Blogger MaggotAtBroad&Wall said...

Sorry, but "consumer sovereignty" reigns supreme.

It doesn't mean that you have to personally like their choices, but finicky consumers ultimately decide which footwear and which strollers survie in the marketplace. Currently, they want tricked out "Hummer" strollers. But who knows what will be fasionable in the future?

For example, look at almost any picture of a city street around 1910, and virtually EVERY single head, male or female, will have a hat on top of it. Here's an example:

http://www.shorpy.com/node/10738?size=_original

How would you like to be a derby manufacturer today?

 
At 7/03/2011 2:11 PM, Blogger AIG said...

I'm actually glad people are moving more towards wearing whatever is comfortable for them. If only offices started doing that sooner (they will gradually), and get rid of silly dress codes.

Anyway, they're the lacrosse team! You'r lucky they didn't show up in sweat pants! I can't say I've ever seen a lacrosse team girl wear anything other than sweat pants year round.

As for baby strollers, I remember my stroller back in communist E.Europe. It was essentially a wooden frame like a lawn chair, with fabric covering, and 2 (not 4) small wheels. I think that stroller must have been in my family for about 20 years, and served multiple generations of cousins.

 
At 7/03/2011 2:20 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"It prompts a lazy gait and a lazy attitude "at the margin"

I don't think so. Its just about comfort. Why be uncomfortable in order to "look good"?

I remember a while back, I was at a small manufacturing firm, and I commented to the shop manager why none of the workers had stools to sit on (they were in one station all day). He said "I'm old fashioned. If you're not tired by the end of the day, you haven't done your job!". I went over his head and got them all stools.

Its kind of the same thing here; there's no relation between being comfortable and doing your job.

Now when meeting the president, ok maybe you can sacrifice a couple of hours of your comfort.

 
At 7/03/2011 2:39 PM, Blogger Highgamma said...

Emil said:
"'Market liberalism' says more or less that the government should not intervene in what people buy, it doesn't say that we have to like what they buy. There is a difference between expressing a taste and between calling for something to be forbidden by law"

And people have every right to tell you what to do with your "taste". Rants are just that, rants. People should be able to behave however they feel and if the President is offended, he doesn't have to take a picture with them.

 
At 7/03/2011 2:47 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Ron H:

I think you are.

"especially near the National Zoo, where I live."

The above sentence fragment would indicate residence in the National Zoo.

However, Dr. Perry left out the comma.

BTW, last night I was chasing a cat with a broom in my underwear on the back porch. The feline was stealing food from my canine's bowl.

 
At 7/03/2011 2:53 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Anyway, I gotta say, Dr. Perry is oddly off on this post. Flip-flops are wonderful, and I never cared for cramped footwear, especially in a hot and muggy city like DC. It may take a few decades more, but perhaps we can rid ourselves entirely of insane clothing norms (ties, wingtips, and suits intended to display we do not do manual labor) for something that makes sense, for comfort and climate.


Did you know that prior to Westernization, most of the women in South America and SE Asia (and Japan in summertime) went topless?

So what kind of wimp actually prefers traditional Western clothing? Not me!!!

Dr. Parry, you owe us a retraction.

As for baby strollers, the market rules. I think a lot of women use them to hold purses, shopping bags, change of gym clothes etc.

 
At 7/03/2011 3:15 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"He said "I'm old fashioned. If you're not tired by the end of the day, you haven't done your job!". I went over his head and got them all stools."

Gee, I would think that if an employer wanted workers to be tired, it would be from doing productive work. If just making them tired is the goal, he could achieve it much sooner by requiring them to stand on one leg while they worked.

 
At 7/03/2011 3:20 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"As for baby strollers, the market rules. I think a lot of women use them to hold purses, shopping bags, change of gym clothes etc."

...and on rare occasions, babies.

 
At 7/03/2011 5:48 PM, Blogger Emil said...

Highgamma

"And people have every right to tell you what to do with your "taste". Rants are just that, rants. People should be able to behave however they feel and if the President is offended, he doesn't have to take a picture with them."

I think that was more or less my point... Although, I should also (barring inflicting physical pain on someone) be allowed to behave however I feel like against those who behave however they feel..

 
At 7/03/2011 5:54 PM, Blogger James E. Miller said...

I wear flip flops pretty much 24/7 in the summer. I don't really see the problem. There are a lot worse things like overweight people wearing way-too-revealing clothes.

And I agree with many posters in that society's slow adoption of more comfortable clothing in public is a great thing. There was nothing better than going to the dining hall in college after a heavy night of drinking in sweat pants and a wife beater and not worrying about what everyone else thought because it was a fashion norm for weekends.

 
At 7/03/2011 6:48 PM, Blogger Max said...

I wish I could upvote some of the comments. I will add my voice to those who learned about the pragmatism of smaller strollers.

We used to have a large stroller, and it was nice to have everything at hand all the time. But when my wife took our newborn on a flight for her grandmother's funeral, she (and later I) learned how nice it is to fit in small spaces, to have extra room in the car's trunk, and to not lug around a huge piece of equipment in the off chance that we might need its extra features. We don't do much offroading with our stroller, but to the extent that we drag it through the sand at the beach, or on dirt paths, the lighter stroller beats the larger wheels on a heavier stroller any time.

 
At 7/03/2011 7:59 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Another issue with flip-flops is that they can cause foot problems because of the lack of support, see update in post.

 
At 7/03/2011 11:16 PM, Blogger Steve D said...

Mark, I find it surprising that you'd oppose something so obviously market driven. Have you even talked with people who are buying these?

We own a double BOB Revolution (the prince of strollers). Got it as a group gift at a baby shower. It rides smoother than my car, carries both kids and their bags, and handles anything we try to do. We've gone hiking with it, long trips, and airlines.

Suffice to say that we're thrilled with it, and as the guy who loads and unloads it, it's totally worth the occasional headache.

 
At 7/04/2011 12:21 AM, Blogger Innovation rules said...

I admit to buying an overbuilt stroller. The flimsy one broke in less than a month.

Besides, there's a 5 mile dirt path around the lake in the local park, complete with hills and roots and bridges. My son loves to go with me as I run up the hills and coast on the flat areas.

Sometimes he even sleeps:)

 
At 7/04/2011 11:40 AM, Blogger STICKY SANDALS said...

I think it would be fun for all the girls to wear topless sticky sandals: http://stickysandals.com

 
At 7/04/2011 2:25 PM, Blogger Innovation rules said...

Is the argument that flip-flops cause foot problems problematic?

Perhaps it is binding feet in constrictive footwear for decades that causes the issues when they are finally freed.

It is arguable that feet are in general 2 sizes smaller than they otherwise would be and very much weaker, generally causing any number of leg and back problems.

 
At 7/04/2011 6:26 PM, Blogger Gregory (Greg) P Turco said...

Lighten up. It's summer.

 
At 7/10/2011 4:58 AM, Blogger Kid Various said...

I have to totally agree with your post. I've been living outside the U.S. for a number of years and I was stunned at the seeming social acceptability of wearing flip flops everywhere.

Flip flops are acceptable within 1,000 feet of a large body of water or shower. Otherwise, put on a pair of freaking shoes.

Seriously, people going out to the mall in flip flops, going to restaurants in flip flops, picking up their Nobel Prize in flip flops...

 
At 7/14/2011 12:12 AM, Blogger misterjosh said...

As long as the ridiculous TSA is in charge, I'm gonna wear flip flops when I fly. Every time I travel, I spend several minutes on planning how to streamline my security experience.

 

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