Rumors and speculation have been swirling for months about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ footwear. Over the past week, they broke through to widespread attention—including Donald Trump’s. Monday afternoon on Truth Social, Trump posted images of DeSantis’ customary cowboy boots with speculation about DeSantis wearing “hidden heels.”
It’s a statement of fact to say that DeSantis wears cowboy boots, which themselves add at least a couple of inches of height in a socially approved, masculine way. A photo of DeSantis on the Florida governor’s website shows daylight between the sole of his boot and the ground, so this is a meaningful heel to begin with.
DeSantis isn’t known for wearing cowboy or western styles in general, and his boots—beyond the overall shape, heel, and some subtle stitching over the top of his foot—aren’t ostentatiously cowboy in aesthetic. They’re the cowboy boots of plausible deniability: If you don’t look closely at them, they can pass for a black dress shoe that wouldn’t be expected to have a substantial heel (unlike George Costanza’s Timberlands).
If you point to the heel of the governor’s boots as a ploy to add height, the response can be that you are a snob to question the traditional masculine aesthetic of the cowboy boot. Of course, DeSantis didn’t organically start wearing cowboy boots out of personal preference. According to a June profile of Florida first lady Casey DeSantis in The Washington Post:
She knew the cowboy boots he should wear, even though, at first, he complained that they hurt his feet, until a staffer suggested he buy dress shoes instead, at which point he said, “Casey got them for me,” and that was the end of the conversation about the cowboy boots.
But the question now being raised on social media, including by Trump, isn’t whether DeSantis is wearing a cowboy boot with a couple inches of heel, as plenty of men do. The question is what’s going on inside those boots:
The toes of DeSantis’ boots curl up in a way that people’s toes generally do not. A shoe might curl that way, though, if there were a couple inches of empty space in the toe and the weight of the foot was farther back. The angle of DeSantis’ legs often looks a little off:
Defector’s Chris Thompson compared the apparent length of DeSantis’ leg above and below the knee, finding that DeSantis either has legs of fascinatingly unusual proportions or is doing something to artificially lengthen his lower leg.
Now, why Donald Trump, a man who is himself rumored to wear at least a modest lift in his shoe and who obviously lied about his height and weight when he turned himself in to Georgia authorities, is focused on DeSantis’ footwear is another question. Apparently no amount of turmoil in the world (Ukraine, Israel) or the Republican Party (House speaker drama) or his own life (he had to turn himself in to Georgia authorities, and that was just one of the four sets of criminal indictments he faces) can distract Trump from the politics of personal insult.
The real question is whether a desire to taunt DeSantis over what’s going on inside those boots would be enough to lure Trump to the stage for the next Republican presidential debate.
Editor’s note: Lead image changed.