Listen, let me just state for the record that I harbor no illusions about the world’s opinion of Uggs and their knockoff counterparts. People see the fuzzy-on-the-inside, camel-like-on-the-outside footwear as ugly, lazy, indicative of a lack of fashion creativity and indeed, a lack of all-around life ambition. The shoes suggest a willingness to sleep until 11:00 a.m., to slink around in oversized sunglasses while slurping from a giant iced coffee and texting inanities to Paris Hilton.
I get it.
But I don’t care.
You see, Uggs and Uggs knockoffs are about more than what meets the eye.
To give you a little back story on my own association with the offending footwear: I didn’t go out looking for a pair of knockoff Uggs. My mother sent them to me as part of a care package a few years ago, thinking, I believe, that they were slippers. (I say that because a certain amount of shock registered in her voice when I later told her that I was wearing them outside the house.) Anyway, I didn’t know what to make of being the somewhat proud, somewhat ashamed owner of a pair of Uggs knockoffs — I certainly didn’t intend to become one of those stereotypical L.A. bobblehead girls who wears them with shorts, or skinny jeans, or leggings, or anything, really, anything at all.
So I started wearing them around the house. The were comfortable, I found. They were warm (Angelenos get cold easily), and cozy, and actually more plush than my real slippers.
And they had soles. So one day, I thought, well, I’m just running to 7-11. I’ll just keep them on. Just this once.
And you know what? Wearing them out in public was like eating a Cadbury Egg for no reason whatsoever. It was indulgent. But it wasn’t until I looked in the mirror that I realized this was going to be more than a onetime thing — because I liked the way they looked.
There, I said it. I like the way I look in my Uggs knockoffs. They’re no Louboutins — no one is going to accuse my fuzzy footwear of being fashion forward. But the exaggerated silhouette that they create does a favor to my proportions. Wearing overly large boots does the same thing to the figure that a mermaid dress does, and the very opposite of what’s created with tapered jeans. It produces almost cartoon-ish curves.
Which brings me to my next point: more important than the effect the shoes have on my overall look is the fact that they are, delightfully, funny. Nobody who wears Uggs or Uggs knockoffs takes them particularly seriously. Because they’re ridiculous. They’re enormous, and they’re faux-fur-lined boots, for God’s sake, and we live in North America. I grew up in Boston and I never once saw the need to wear faux-fur-lined boots. But like Snooki — who is basically the human embodiment of an Ugg boot — Uggs are a caricature. They’re so exaggerated as to be a commentary on extreme and unnatural body ideals, on our access to and heavy reliance on comfort, on the slovenliness of so many Americans juxtaposed with the fashion obsession of a select few.
In other words, Uggs are performance art.
So not only am I not afraid to wear them, I delight in wearing them. I delight in walking around the city knowing that not only are my feet are comfortable and cushioned, but that I’m imparting some critical cultural messages that are no doubt being pondered this very moment by people who saw me walking around earlier today! Or that possibly, my choice of footwear is simply enough to cause reactions in people who either despise or adore it. For all I know, that’s what Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie have been doing all these years, too. Shit. Anything is possible.