Oh, ho. I really don’t want anyone to say this to me. It is a derogatory remark that is meant to tell me I better ‘fess up to a shortcoming. Let’s say my math skills should be improved, but I think all is good, and maybe I am even bragging a bit about how good my math skills are. Then, someone, calls me on my bluff, and when I can’t produce, that person tells me to admit it, I don’t really understand the math problem — if the shoe fits, wear it.
Or maybe, I make an excuse to my personal trainer why I am always late, but my personal trainer knows better, he knows that I am less than motivated. I need to admit it as he tells me, “if the shoe fits, wear it.”
But, where in the world did this term come from?
Way back, 1593 or so, the expression started as “if the cap fits” wear it, which referred to a fool’s cap. And you know how the fool was referred to in history. A jokester, a person who likes to tell jokes. The jester in a king’s court. (image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org)
Looking up words and their origins, cap also is derived from cloak, which then became cape, which then became cap. Ah. But that was before the derogatory meaning. It meant simply if the cloak (cape) fits, wear it. Then came the fool, the fool’s cap, and then the dunce cap, which is definitely derogatory.
Then, came Cinderella.
The story of Cinderella starts years and years ago. Originally, Cinderella was titled Cenerentola and it was an Italian folk tale which was published in 1634 by Giambattiste Basile in the collection II Pentamerone.
The tale was introduced to Europe and America in 1773, and the “if the cap fits” was changed to “if the shoe fits”
Introduce Walt Disney and his wonderful imagination, and now Cenerentola is widely known as Cinderella and the prince scours the region for the woman who fits into the shoe.
It is a good tale with a happy ending.
So, back to “if the shoe fits, wear it” — it is simply saying, if the shoe fits, admit it. Own up to it. It is my shoe, it is my characteristic and I just might as well admit it. “It is my shoe, and I will wear it.”
Until next week…