Saskatchewan

Online mock-shoe store outlines personal struggle of finding shoes in a two gender world

Evie Ruddy worked with the National Film Board for Un/Tied.

Evie Ruddy worked with the National Film Board for 'Un/Tied'

Saskatchewan's Evie Ruddy worked with the National Film Board, created a website that looks like a shoe store to show their path through finding themself. (Un/Tied/Website)

When Evie Ruddy goes looking for clothing, they often find that one side of a store is women's clothing and the other is men's.

"I don't identify as male or female. So right off the hop I have a challenge," Ruddy said. "Then in addition to that I prefer the men's side. An added challenge to that is that all of those clothes don't come in my size because I'm quite small."

Ruddy is five feet tall and wears shoes that are women's size six. They said the fashion industry seems to only make clothes based on the size of a regular man.

Ruddy's life experience finding items that fit are the subject of a recent project with the National Film Board of Canada. 

Un/Tied is a website that tells Ruddy's life story through nine shoes they wanted to wear. It starts with having to choose men or women, as Ruddy does when they go online. 

Evie Ruddy's site begins by asking people to choose men or women before highlighting their personal story with the labels. (Un/Tied Website)

"We wanted to invite people who might not otherwise engage with a story told by a gender nonconforming person," Ruddy said. "It's not like a trick but it's a creative way to get people to engage with the story."

Once someone chooses, they're taken to a screen with the nine pairs of shoes. 

"Some of them I've worn, some of them I've wanted to wear," Ruddy said. "Each pair of shoes comes with a story about my life and having to navigate this gender binary in the fashion industry."

Un/Tied started as a way to go through their life, now Evie Ruddy has released the site publicly with the National Film Board. (Un/Tied/Website)

Ruddy said their parents supported them growing up. 

"My parents treated me like a girl, however they were very open," Ruddy said. "We did traditional boys things. And those restrictions weren't placed on me within my family.

Ruddy said they were never told how to dress or cut their hair.

"They've actually been wonderful in just letting me express myself the way I feel I need to," they said.

Ruddy does go to the women's side of fashion on occasion, they said, but there's fewer choices. 

When I find something that actually fits me and I look in the mirror and I see myself being reflected the way that I think of myself, that feels fantastic.​​​​​​- Evie Ruddy

Ruddy said the first time they felt like themself was shopping for a wedding. It was one of the first times Ruddy tried men's clothing and found a slim, extra small vest. 

"There was no looking back after that. I just loved the way I felt," Ruddy said. "I felt confident, I felt comfortable. It's me."

Evie Ruddy's story ends with a final shoe called 'the evie.' (Un/Tied Website)

Ruddy said they hope people looking at Un/Tied gain an understanding of what it might be like when a person is gender nonconforming.  

"I hope that the fashion industry also rethinks why it is that they make clothes for men and they cut clothes a certain way for women," Ruddy said. "And why not rethink gender and that there are multiple genders, not just two."

Ruddy hopes to see more stores carry smaller and larger sizes, along with gender neutral clothing, because there's a market for nonconforming people. 

"It feels amazing when I'm able to find a shirt that I really want to wear," Ruddy said. 

"When I find something that actually fits me and I look in the mirror and I see myself being reflected the way that I think of myself, that feels fantastic."

About the Author

Heidi Atter

AP/Journalist

Heidi Atter is a Journalist working in Regina. She started with CBC Saskatchewan after a successful internship and has a passion for character-driven stories. Heidi has worked as a reporter, web writer, associate producer and show director so far, and has worked in Edmonton, the Wainwright Military Base, and in Adazi, Latvia. Story ideas? Email heidi.atter@cbc.ca

With files from Joelle Seal and The Morning Edition