‘There’s Only So Much You Can Do,’ Says Aunt Who Bought a Pair of Toms in 2011

Fighting against the injustices inflicted by countless interconnected oppressive systems can be exhausting and overwhelming, especially for activists on the front lines, which apparently includes your Aunt Susan, who bought a pair of Toms shoes back in 2011.


“For every pair you buy, they donate another to someone in need,” she said, interrupting your discussion on eviction moratoriums. “What else can ya do, really?”


When you asked her if she wanted to continue giving back to communities deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent devastating hurricanes, a shadow passed over her face.


“I would love for the world to be a better place, but there’s only so much one human being can take on, like buying a pair of espadrilles you don’t even especially like because it’s for a good cause,” said Aunt Susan while pulling out her iPad to show you her 10-year-old receipt from Toms that she had apparently starred in her Hotmail inbox for this exact purpose.


“There’s always something going on in the world,” said Susan, who donated to a Gofundme once. “Can’t fix everything.”


In an effort to make everyday contributions seem more manageable, you suggested consistent mutual aid donations, but Aunt Susan was indignant toward this suggestion.


“Consistent? I wear these shoes every damn day. Every year I have to explain to the parish why I’m wearing these ugly shoes to Christmas Mass. I know I’m spreading the word about a good cause, but it’s really starting to get to me,” she said. “I still have to live a normal life.”

You decided not to mention that Toms had ended their “one for one” model and calmly reminded her that there were other, non-Toms-related ways to engage.


“I think I’ve atoned for my privilege plenty by buying and wearing these charity shoes,” she said. “I’m very conscious of social issues, but how much can fit on one person’s plate?”



“Sometimes I’ll buy Smartwater at the airport because I think they’re doing something good with Jennifer Aniston,” Susan added. “I don’t know. I can’t keep up.”


Everyone has their limits, especially Aunt Susan, who just can’t see what else she could do to help.