Pink Shoes: The Legend Continues

Thanks to Kay Webb Harrison, I have more pink shoes news from Hampton Roads, Virginia. In a follow up article published in the Virginian-Pilot yesterday, editor Joyce Hoffmann took a look at the scandal du footwear, and talked to The Owner of Those Hot Pink Shoes, Candice Knilans, as well as the photographer who shot the image. And you know me – I’m a total sucker for behind-the-scenes info.

She “wanted to look dazzling,” according to the report, for her husband, who was deployed to Iraq six months after they were married. For those who questioned whether the shoes matched the dress, alas, no, it seems not. But she did have pink sunglasses to match, and she wanted the color to “distinguish her in the crowd at pier side.”

The photographer, Rich-Joseph Facun, didn’t think he had a great picture when he took the shots of Knilans, but the Pilot photo director thought the picture illustrated “[a]ll the joy of the day.” While other photo editors “complaints about the insinuations of sexuality in the shoe color and the crossed ankles” the photo ran anyway.

And yup, the complaints rolled in. Detractors were a minority, and they objected to the sexuality in the image as predicted.
Some insisted that a more innocent picture, that of a 5 year old waiting for his father, should have been the front-page above the fold image to portay the sailors’ homecoming. Yet again, I am struck by the desexualization and the preference for “wholesome or patriotic” images, which underscore a preference for chaste innocence when it comes to portrayals of military figures.

But the majority applauded, and the public editor, who is also an associate professor of English at Old Dominion, wrote:

…many readers were reveling in that giddy anticipation that accompanies the long-awaited arrival of a loved one.

With that moment came a flash of insight. Our military neighbors deserve to be celebrated for their sacrifices – sacrifices the rest of us seldom share.

For that awareness, we are indebted to Candice Knilans and her love of pink.

I wonder if Ms. Knilans is now a bit hyperaware of her choice of footwear when she leaves the house.

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  1. 1
    Gennita Low says:

    I’m glad so many got the real emotional message of that photo, rather than judge a woman’s choice of shoe color.  That people would actually come right out and condemn someone for wearing a bright pair of high heels while welcoming her loved one home boggles my mind.  I feel that sometimes those who complain forget that most of the those coming home are very young men with very young spouses/girlfriends, and none of them probably were thinking of anything else but seeing each other again after a long absence.

  2. 2
    ev says:

    I have lost count of how many times my hubby and I finally caught up with each other- with one or both of us usually wearing combat boots. Now there’s desexualization for you.

    Unfortunatly this is still a puritanical society when it comes to sex and being out in the open about it. I like to think the detractors are just plain lousy at their own sex lives and rather than make that apparant take it out on someone else. F-em!!

  3. 3

    Thanks for posting the article!  I haven’t had a chance to read yesterday’s paper yet.  These two quotes both anger and amuse me:

    JulieAnn Singleton-Smith, a Virginia Beach journalism teacher, found the photo “extremely offensive” and concluded, “Sex may sell, but it shouldn’t sell out our returning heroes.”

    “Next time,” wrote Carolyn Bushey of Virginia Beach, “put the smutty pictures inside the paper…. I would have preferred to have seen some wholesome or patriotic family pictures instead.”

    A pair of shoes are “extremely offensive” and “smutty”?  Seriously?  What decade is this?

    I think Ms. Singleton-Smith and Ms. Bushey would be extremely offended to know what kind of smutty behavior my husband and I are going to engage in upon his return from deployment.  I’ll be sure to make a good, wholesome meal first, though.  Hee hee.

    I think Mr. Facun is an amazing photographer who succeeded in capturing the spirit and emotions of homecoming.

  4. 4
    Kerry says:

    I’m still boggled about the sexuality sturm and drang—I mean yeah, she’s got nice legs and a pair of fuck me pumps, but geez louise there’s more smut in a picture of a Hooters waitress.

  5. 5
    KariBelle says:

    Yet again, I am struck by the desexualization and the preference for “wholesome or patriotic” images, which underscore a preference for chaste innocence when it comes to portrayals of military figures.

    I have lived most of my life next door to a major military base and have many friends who have been deployed or have had spouses who were deployed for long stretches of time. I guess that is why I can think of few things more “patriotic” than a wife anxiously awaiting the return of her husband with open umm…arms.  I mean for cripes sake!  The sexuality in the image was implied.  It is not like they have a picture of those hot pink pump clad legs wrapped around the husband’s waist!  (But how hot would that be?) Stuffy people annoy me.

  6. 6
    Cyranetta says:

    I’m trying very hard, but I CANNOT enter the mindset of someone who would see that picture as “smut.” If pink shoes and crossed ankles send up alarm flares, a trip to the grocery store must be a moral slalom run with all those suggestive colors and shapes. Such cultural hypersensitivity must make for an exhausting way of life.

    Tom Lehrer strikes again: “When correctly viewed, everything is lewd.”

  7. 7
    Rachel R. says:

    If pink shoes and crossed ankles send up alarm flares, a trip to the grocery store must be a moral slalom run with all those suggestive colors and shapes.

    I’m now picturing a slew of angry letters about eggplant…

  8. 8
    Kim says:

    It is not like they have a picture of those hot pink pump clad legs wrapped around the husband’s waist

    Now that would have been an awesome picture!!  It would make a good book cover too.
    That Singleton-whatever, sounds like and elitist snob, however Candice sounds like someone you could be BFF’s with.  I loved the picture.

  9. 9

    Nice follow up article! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  10. 10
    Suze says:

    I’m now picturing a slew of angry letters about eggplant…

    Especially those suggestive, long, purple Japanese ones.  Mmmm, purple phallic vegetables…

  11. 11
    SB Sarah says:

    Am I the only one who has a sudden hankering for a pair of hot pink shoes?

    Yeah?

    Goody. More for me.

  12. 12
    Nora Roberts says:

    ~Candice sounds like someone you could be BFF’s with. ~

    Doesn’t she?

    Count me in on baffled by pink shoes= offensive or smut.

    I’d buy a pair of pink shoes myself in solidarity, but it’s just not my color. I do, however, own a terrific pair of red patent leather peep-toe silettos. Next time I wear them, I’m wearing them for Candance.

  13. 13
    Celeber says:

    It is too bad some people can take a positive thing and turn it into an ugly negative.
    I love the follow up article, thanks!

  14. 14
    AgTigress says:

    Curiouser and curiouser!  The newspaper article is fascinating.

    To me, hot pink most emphatically does NOT spell ‘sex’, and nor do crossed ankles.  Hot pink is a naively obvious and girly colour that has connotations of youth and pleasure, but not of eroticism; of prettiness rather than glamour.  In my perceptions, erotically charged colours are those that are rarely appropriate on children, notably black, deep purple and dark reds.  Hot pink looks fine on a 4-year-old girl.  In fact, it usually looks better on a 4-year-old than on an adult woman.  The style of the shoes is very grown-up, of course, though not specifically sexy, but the colour is brashly juvenile, and rather charmingly unsophisticated for that reason – and it is eye-catching, which was the intention.  I did not read the accusations of ‘trashiness’ as referring to sexuality at all, but to social class and fashion sense.  I hate the bare legs, as you all now know, and I am less than charmed by the tattoo, but those judgements are definitely culturally and generationally conditioned, so we can set them aside.

    Pink shoes are smutty?  I really, really do not understand this.  Skirts up to here and necklines down to there may sometimes be vulgar, but shoes?  It is all even more complex than I thought – and I already thought that the layers of meaning and possibilities of interpretation were extensive.  I simply do not understand (some) Americans, and I don’t suppose I ever shall.  But one thing that is significant here is that the sharply contradictory perceptions of the semiotics are not confined to foreign observers like myself,  but are taking place within the US community too.

    Oh, and I have to say it again – it’s a brilliant photograph!  ;)

  15. 15
    Chicklet says:

    “Next time,” wrote Carolyn Bushey of Virginia Beach, “put the smutty pictures inside the paper…. I would have preferred to have seen some wholesome or patriotic family pictures instead.”

    Why, because only parents are in the armed forces? Spouses without children are invisible? It’s impossible to be patriotic *and* sexually desire your spouse? I’m at a loss for words; all I’ve got is wordless indignation. CHICKLET SMASH.

  16. 16
    Cecille says:

    I would have preferred to have seen some wholesome or patriotic family pictures instead.

    That just amused me. Coming from a complete outsider’s point of view with my own cultural conditioning and views, seeing a ‘patriotic’ picture probably wouldn’t have touched me in the same way. ‘Wholesome’ or ‘patriotic’ are words that come with implications of particular values and views, which not necessarily everyone can agree to or relate to. To me, what looks ‘wholesome’ or ‘patriotic’ is probably something very different to what Ms Bushey imagines.

    But waiting for a loved one? Perhaps not in the same way, but I suppose that everyone has at some time or another waited for someone they love. So it is something I can relate to and feel for. Therefore on a very personal level the photographer has achieved something quite touching in making me relate to the woman in the pink heels. The photo reminded me of humanity across the lines of divide and of the things we all have in common, which for me, makes the beauty of the picture. Regardless of what views I hold, I sincerely hope for Ms Knilans that she’ll always have happy occasions to get those pink heels out.

  17. 17
    Phyllis L says:

    When I saw the picture in the V-P, I immediately thought of it as a great cover for some chick lit.  I’ve been amazed at all the letters that have poured in since.  The comment about the 5 year old waiting for his dad is actually a reference to a picture the same photographer took at a previous homecoming, that garnered him some awards.  The photography curator at the Chrysler Museum was recently quoted as saying he thought the photo was as iconic as the WWII one of the sailor kissing the woman in Times Square.

    What’s really amusing is that Carrier has been showing on PBS and there’s a whole scene where the crew is being lectured about remembering to look their loved one in the eyes and not let her think all you want is sex as soon as you get off the ship!  No one’s written in about that.

  18. 18
    Chanel19 says:

    If the military are supposed to present “family values” and wholesomeness, can someone please explain why Brockmann and other write such successful novels (who characters have very active sex lives) and seem to sell them with success to the American market.

    Hell, I remember one homecoming where a friend wore a basque under her raincoat.  They didn’t make it out of the garage.

  19. 19
    Mary Stella says:

    I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that the picture offended people.  I looked at her legs and shoes and thought, “Damn.  If only I had legs that good I’d buy shoes in that color and wear them at every opportunity.”  Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration since I live and work in the land of perennial sandals.  I do, however, own Crocs in a lovely pearly white/turquoise combination.  Nobody has ever accused me of sluttiness when I wear them, however.

    It appears that the woman dressed up for her returning husband.  He’s been looking at khaki and camo-fabric for months.  His lady waiting for him in terrific pinks shoes had to be a welcome sight indeed.

    Good for her!

  20. 20

    Personally, I loved the picture.  Wouldn’t wear the shoes, but still loved it. 

    Drives me nuts how some people can take something so simple, and so beautiful ~ two people reuniting ~ and make it into a big mess.

  21. 21
    Star3661 says:

    I live in the middle of Virginia Beach, not far from Oceana Naval Air Station, and only a few miles down the road from the Norfolk Naval Base. My father was a chief in the Navy during Vietnam. My husband was a commander in the Navy, and now as a reservist has been to Baghdad twice in the past three years. I’ve stood on the piers, waiting for many ships, in my lifetime, both as a daughter and as a wife and mother. My only thought when I saw that photo on the front page of the Pilot was “You go, girl! And give that man of yours a hell of a welcome home tonight!”

  22. 22
    snarkhunter says:

    The summer before last, I found these absolutely *ridiculous* pink strappy shoes: 4” stiletto heel, and the straps had green and yellow flowers on them. I absolutely adore them, and, as I said, they’re absurd. I can only imagine that the people who find Candice’s shoes “smutty” would take one look at me in my silly strappy shoes with their come-fuck-me heel and immediately start digging up some tar and feathers.

    I am developing a theory about “smut” from this and from the debacle that ensued over this (POTENTIALLY NSFW) image at Cute Overload. (It’s a tiny kitten snuggled up to its human mommy’s breast inside her tank-top. You can’t see any nipple, but the lady in question is amply endowed.) Rather like the whole issue over these shoes, the people who responded to the picture were divided between “cool/cute/awww” and “OMG SMUT!! MY EYES! MY PRECIOUS, VIRGIN EYES! WHAT ABOUT THE CHIIIILLLLDREEEEEN???!!!!”

    The common thread seems to be not just the attire (pink stilettos on a young woman with lovely ankles/scoop-necked tank top on a woman with prominent breasts) but on that person’s *right* to wear the attire. In other words, the better your “assets,” the more you should hide them. It seems to me that this is one of the few places where radical (I am not using the term in its philosophical sense, but rather as a catch-all) feminists and ultra conservatives agree. Candice is either destroying feminism by making military wives look … like they like pink? Or she’s harming our troops with her selfish desire to … look pretty for her husband. Tank-top lady is catering to the patriarchy by wearing a low-cut tank top when she has more than a B-cup on her chest, or she’s a slutty slut out to steal your man with her bazoombas and her…kitten.

    In short (too late), neither picture would have been problematic in the same way if the parts of the women in question that you could see would have been unattractive. They still would’ve been problematic, but not “smut.” Instead it would’ve been “ugh. You don’t have the body for those shoes/that shirt/that kitten.”

  23. 23
    Gennita Low says:

    Now I want to get an ankle tattoo ;-). And pink suits me, yay me.  I’ll go shopping for a pair of pretty pink with you, SB Sarah.

  24. 24

    Here’s the thing I can’t get about the negative comments—which have thankfully been in the minority—do these people actually want more of a sacrifice from this couple? They just sacrificed 6 months of their life together, now they should sacrifice their own particular reunion scene because it’s too sexaul or rather not wholesome enough? I love the photo and the sentiment displayed. And it simply burns me that people want to rain on that particular display of happiness. However, those folks do seem to be in the minority so…. Anyway, I’m glad for the follow up article, and the continuing good will toward this young couple. I hope that every soldier, male and female, can come home to such a joyous welcome, in any manner their loved ones choose to display their joy… and yes, relief.

  25. 25
    Brandi says:

    Here’s the thing I can’t get about the negative comments—which have thankfully been in the minority—do these people actually want more of a sacrifice from this couple?

    They want them to be noble, chaste, and patriotic.
    Or dead, so Their Sacrifice Can Be Mourned By the Right-Thinking (but oh no, don’t show the body bags).

    God forbid they should do things like be sexual, or throw loud parties, or demand improved post-war care…

  26. 26
    Anne says:

    I say the women in the area should all rush out and buy pink shoes.  Ask for donations if needed.  The dissenters can eat dirt.  Yes, I said it.  Dirt.  Eat.

  27. 27
    Sana-chan says:

    Dude… where the hell do these people think all those cute little patriotic 5 year olds come from?

  28. 28
    Leslie says:

    Drives me nuts how some people can take something so simple, and so beautiful ~ two people reuniting ~ and make it into a big mess.

    That’s exactly what it’s about.  Loved ones reuniting.  DH is retired navy so I have done the waiting on the pier and yes I wanted to look nice for him.  I say good for Candice for wanting the same.

  29. 29

    I hate the bare legs, as you all now know, and I am less than charmed by the tattoo, but those judgements are definitely culturally and generationally conditioned, so we can set them aside.

    Oh wow. I’m coming in to this late—I didn’t read the comment on the first post, just looked at the cute picture—but I thought I was the only woman in the world who has a major issue with bare legs. Thank you! I’m not alone!

    And what I don’t get is, in a “simpler, less raunchy (or whatevr)” time, it was taken for granted that when wives met their sailor husbands after months away, they were eager for more than just getting the shutters painted (yeah, everything I thought of sounded like a euphemism.) Somewhere I have a book called “LIFE Goes to War”; it’s a compendium of LIFE magazine’s WWII coverage. I’d say 90% of the photos relating to home visits or life away from the family or whatever are married couples kissing to say goodbye/welcome home. And some of them are pretty passionate, if memory serves.

    You’d think they took a picture of Candice’s undies hanging off the lamp, for Pete’s sake. They’re just shoes.

  30. 30
    Emmy says:

    I was in the Navy for 7 years, and married a sailor as well.

    Lemme tell ya what this photographer DIDN’T take pics of, which he very well could have, since he was surrounded by it and obviously had the right angle: all the wives standing around in short skirts with no underwear on.

    It’s all well and good to support your country, but when your spouse has been gone for 6-15 months, the first thing you do when you get them in an enclosed space is oof. Repeatedly.

    Why is that wrong?

    free59? LOL!

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