Shoes have been a powerful, unifying symbol for #MillionsMissing since the first global protest in 2016. Demonstrations across the world have displayed rows of shoes to represent what people are missing from their lives due to myalgic encephalomyelitis. The haunting image of rows of shoes symbolizing the effect of this disease on people’s lives continues to be told through its portrayal in the Unrest documentary.
There have been many variations of the shoe display. One person in the Netherlands put out a small arrangement in front of her home. There was a simple display to accompany a small rally in Massachusetts. Sydney used flip flops on the beach. Melbourne created an impressive display of shoes on the lawn in front of the Victoria State Library.
If you are unable to attend a demonstration, we encourage anyone to host their own “visibility action,” which can be as simple as putting out a pair of shoes with a tag explaining what you are missing from your life, or holding one of our posters with a message, or creating your own.
If you would like to send your shoes to a demonstration, here is the list of locations accepting shoes.
Tips for displaying shoes
If you plan to use shoes in your demonstration this year, here are a few tips:
Have a plan for collecting and removing the shoes.
- You can ask people to bring a few pairs of shoes to represent people with ME, and then encourage them to take them home at the end of the event.
- You can ask people to send you shoes. Be clear about what you will do with the shoes afterwards. We recommend donating the shoes to a charity afterwards.
- Print this tag to attach to the shoe to tell a story about the person.