Cowboy boots? 'No thanks, they're bad for my back,' says Texas governor
Governor Rick Perry faces mockery over new "West Coast metrosexual" look as he hangs up his boots for good
Published 04/07/2014 | 23:21
They are the epitome of swaggering Texan culture and were the macho political emblem of Rick Perry when he ran for US president in 2012.
But now the Texan governor has prompted dismay and derision in his home state after he revealed that he has stopped wearing cowboy boots because they are bad for his back.
The conservative Republican once appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine wearing customised high-heeled boots emblazoned with the Texas battle cry, "Come and Take It".
And he signed a state resolution designating cowboy boots as the official footwear of Texas in honour of their role "in the mythic romance of the Lone Star State".
But he has now said that he can no longer wear his boots as they exacerbate the back problems that plagued his presidential campaign.
The explanation for his gubernatorial footwear shuffle has raised eyebrows among those Texans who believe that men are men and should not complain about their boots or backs.
His fellow Republican Jerry Patterson, the state land commissioner, issued a particularly withering verdict by Texan standards.
"I lament the fact that our governor could now pass for a West Coast metrosexual and has embarrassed us all with his sartorial change of direction," he noted, calling the bad back explanation "a feeble excuse".
Some Texas political pundits suspect that the switch to traditional shoes is less for health reasons and more part an effort to soften his Wild West image as he considers another White House run in 2016.
They note that the politician who was mocked on the campaign trail in 2012 for his verbal stumbles has also started to wear the sort of dark thick-rimmed spectacles popular with fashion-conscious urbanites and intellectuals.
His veteran boot maker meanwhile has made clear that he is also unimpressed with the news and offered a solution.
"I'll just lower the heel," said Rocky Carroll, 75, who has crafted boots for seven president, including Mr Perry's predecessor as Texan governor, George W Bush, and countless dignitaries, including the Queen. "I do that all the time. I do work for orthopaedic doctors. I'll fix them all for him."