Fun feet for FOP

All photos by Tim LaRose

I get a lot of attention for my shoes. I like shoes for a few reasons. Shoes can really pull together an outfit, or they can be a statement in and of themselves. Another thing I like – as a male lawyer, there can be limited opportunities to personalise an outfit, but shoes is one thing you can do a bit differently. Even something like wearing a nice pair of navy brogues when all other guys are in black or brown shoes – it doesn’t make a really loud statement, but just individualises your outfit a little bit. Another handy thing – if you have a few extra cheat days, and everything else is getting snugger, your shoes will still fit!

On top of these, my shoes fulfil another, more important role for me and my overall frame of mind. When I go out into the world, I allow myself to be put under great scrutiny. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had people looking at me whatever I do and whenever I go anywhere. I know objectively that I am not ‘normal’; that I move very differently; that I move a lot slower and extremely awkwardly compared to others. It can be weird sometimes for me to think about, because as much as the bone caused by FOP progresses and changes all the time, the FOP itself has been a constant for me. It can also be hard, generally. As I’m sure many people would attest, we oftentimes don’t like to be stared at if we’re just going about doing our own thing and minding our own business. On the other hand, we’re human; we’re naturally curious when we see something new or unexpected and our first reaction is to stare as our brains try to make sense of it.

For me, when I am doing my thing, and slowly and awkwardly shuffling through my life wearing these interesting and different shoes, I’m telling myself that people aren’t looking at me because of my FOP but because of my shoes. This brings the staring back onto my terms. In this way, shoes are like my armour for getting through life. 

The truth is, most of us have things about ourselves that we are insecure about, and we engage certain protective mechanisms when we go out into the world so that we can put our best version of ourself out there and not focus on what we are, perhaps, less confident about.

For some, like me, it might be an item of clothing or jewellery that we wear for people to focus on. For others, maybe it’s their witty and loud personality, and when they are at home alone they are perfectly happy being quiet. For others, maybe it’s unusual or ever changing hairstyles they use to distinguish themselves. In my experience, there’s usually this sort of message going through our heads:

“If people are focusing on my shoes/jokes/hair or something else, they won’t look as closely at x, which really bothers me”

The point is, we are not perfect, and it’s ok to admit that. Having insecurities doesn’t make us weak, or pathetic, or vain – it makes us human. And whatever defence mechanisms we have to help us deal with those insecurities and make us feel comfortable are part of our instinctive reaction, as people, to these sorts of problems. By doing these things to help us deal with what we would otherwise worry about and focus our attention on, that allows us to consciously focus much more of our energy on what we need to do – like our jobs. If I spent my energy worrying that everyone was staring at me because of FOP, I’d never leave my bedroom. This is one of my coping mechanisms, and it works for me.

What’s your armour? Do you have one? Do you need one?

27 thoughts on “Fun feet for FOP

  1. I so love your shoe choices Ollie……. but they will never distract me enough from really looking at the wonderful person wearing them.
    Loving your words, loving your honesty, loving your humanity.

    Thank you

  2. Wow. This is a great read. Those final questions are thought provoking and just a wee bit uncomfortable. I’ll be pondering on those for quite some time. Much love to you, Ollie.

    1. Thanks Suzanne. It can be hard, as they become second nature to us after awhile, so we don’t always take the time to stop and really think about it. Let me know what you come up with! Lots of love

  3. I enjoyed that very much, Ollie, and look forward to your next blog. Food for thought. I thank you for your forgiveness and understanding of people who unknowingly or knowingly stare. I love the way you put yourself in othe people’s shoes as well as your own very flash shoes.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read, and thank you for your comment Penny. Hope you are keeping well in these crazy times!

  4. Eloquent and elegant as always! You are so right and I loved reading your perspective, people are all different but we are so much the same and sometimes the harshest critic is ourselves – you have always and will always be enough for me! Love you lots and really really love those gold numbers! Xxx

    1. Thanks so much Di! I agree, we can definitely be most critical about ourselves. Missing you heaps, and sending you lots of love xxx

  5. Spot on Ollie! Fantastic blog and you are such an awesome friend and a super shape dresser. Always love your shoes, definitely your signature statement! Sending you much love 💕 I am so incredibly proud of you!

    1. Thanks so much Jeannie! It’s definitely helped having such awesome role models like yourself. Sending lots of love, and hope you’re keeping well!

  6. You are a wonderful Ambassador for FOP Awareness Day.
    You have taken those sparking & shiny shoes to a new height. 🌟 Cheers

  7. Love your approach to life we’re getting to know more about inspiring you whilst you teach us how to walk alongside our FOP family

  8. Reading your blog tonight Ollie I feel quite humbled by your telling it like it is for you each and every day- everybody should read your words. The photos of your spectacular shoes and your words around how they make you feel and help define you resonated with me because I have always felt that shoes can lift any outfit from the everyday to something wonderful- a simple cotton dress can be transformed with classic leather Italian sandals- maybe my shoes give me confidence to face the day sometimes but, at almost 60, I no longer worry what others think- thankyou for sharing your experiences and those amazing shoes ❤️

    1. Thanks so much for reading and for your comment Wendy! I totally understand, sometimes putting on something special just gives you that little extra lift to face the world.

  9. Thank you for your article Ollie it was truly inspiring. My grandson Jarvis also is a FOP person and he is trying to cope with many obstacles he faces in his life. Like you Ollie Jarvis is a special human being so full of hope and enthusiasm. I thank you Ollie that you are such a guiding light for him.

    1. You are most welcome Tamara! Thank you for reading and for your comment. Hope Jarvis is doing well

  10. Beautifully written, l love all your shiny shoes however people aren’t looking at them they are looking because they can see the beautiful aura surrounding you and they just want a piece of that! Keep on blogging Liz xx

  11. So eloquently and aptly put Ollie. I am in awe of your amazing shoe collection but looking at them is secondary to focusing on you. You may think you look awkward but I only ever see you as you and the beautiful soul (no pun meant!) that goes with that. Thanks for your most informative blog.

    1. Thank you for reading Nicky, and for your lovely comment! Hope you and the family are keeping well at the moment.

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