or at least recycle them.
I really know that there are more pressing social matters than fashion and gender, but somehow I always think of these not so pressing issues first. In fact, I think about them all the time. Which proves how shallow I am (and further proof lies in the fact that I start and finish every single post with I, me, and my). But then maybe these obsessions are only showing my belief that even big issues are made out of a thousand small ones.
So. I have been thinking about fashion again. On one hand this is part of my midlife crisis and the attempt of re-inventing myself, on the other hand fashion is something I used to be very interested in which I then dumped because I thought a) it was too shallow, b) I didn’t have money for clothes anyway, and c) I thought I was too old for fashion. That was ten years ago, by the way, and I have a half written post about that in a notebook. But todays topic are high heels.
When I got pregnant my feet got bigger. That happens to a lot of women. I thought this would be permanent and so I threw away half a dozen pairs of shoes. Some of them I liked a lot, like the shoes I got married in. So I needed new shoes. Since I had thrown away my black pumps and everybody needs black pumps (well, everybody who is female) I then thought about buying new ones. Then I thought again. Because every time I was about to go out, all dressed up and standing in front of the mirror I put on my black pumps and loved the way I looked. And then, nine times out of ten, I’d think about the necessary way to the train station or an evening of standing around holding a glass of wine in one hand, and then I would step out of the pumps and look for my black flats. So I didn’t buy black pumps. I bought black flat Mary Janes.
But now I have a) become more fashion conscious again which you can easily spot by the fact that I have given up on the backpack and now schlepp a big purse around that makes my shoulder ache, and b) my feet have returned to their pre-pregnancy size, and c) I have found four pairs of my old shoes that I had totally forgotten in the basement. So now I am the proud owner of black pumps again. With a 2-inch-heel. And they are Mary Janes of course. Also I have nice little black dress sandals. Also with a little heel. I love the way I look in these. Especially the way my legs look in these. What I don’t like is the way said legs and feet feel when I have worn them for any amount of time. Like last week I felt fancy, and also I was wearing a beige-brown skirt with a brown top and my comfortable sandals are red… I wore the black sandals to preschool. All in all I walked for about twenty minutes. I had three blisters and my hips, knees and back ached. Hm.
I looked at shoe shop windows. Almost every shoe has a heel. A lot of them have stiletto heels. There even are mules with stiletto heels. Hm. Have you ever tried to walk in shoes like these? I have. You have to think about your feet and walking all the time. One careless move leaves you injured on the floor.
I looked at women’s feet: flip flops, sneakers, more flip flops. Hm.
A couple of months ago I bought my first ever copy of “Vogue”. Almost every woman pictured in there wore extremely high heels. I look at the pictures at the Satorialist. I love the blog but nearly all women in the pictures wear high heels, very high heels. I have yet to see a man wearing heels.
Last winter I went into a shoe store and said, “I’d like to buy some nice shoes to wear with a dress or skirt but without a heel, please.” The sales woman showed me a pair. “No ballet flats, please.” Another one. “I don’t want a heel, please.” She, “But that’s not much of a heel.” I, “It’s 2 1/2 inches. If I wear those my back will hurt.” And then she began to rant about todays young women who always wear sneakers and then their feet become all wide and they never will be able to go to the prom in something else than sneakers, and how wearing heels of different heels is good for you. I left the store and haven’t bought a pair of shoes there since.
What I really like is the argument that your feet are getting wide by wearing Birkenstocks or sneakers. See, my feet are very narrow. I have trouble finding shoes that are narrow enough. Even though I haven’t worn anything besides sneakers, Birkenstocks and flat heels for the past five years. And then I thought, “How would a man react if a sales person told him that he should wear heels because this is good for his back?” And how can something be good for my back if it makes it hurt? And, would you let your child wear stilettos? Any heel? Shoes that might make him or her trip? Shoes that are totally rigid? What? You wouldn’t? Why then do you do this to yourself?
Last week my husband and I went to the big city. We walked along the river and I, obsessed with shoes of course, looked at the feet of everyone we passed (and at their bags but that’s another story). Amongst myriads of flip flops (which are not really shoes) I saw a couple before me. She went barefoot with her black stiletto heels in hand. Later we passed them again where there were more people and she again wore her shoes. I remembered the agony of walking in heels. Once I walked for two or three hours in stiletto heels. My feet hurt for days.
My mother crippled her feet with heels. She used to wear nothing but high heels. When she tried to walk barefoot her feet hurt because her tendons or muscles were shortened. Her big toes had been pressed inwards for so many years that she had to have them operated on. Since the operation, by the way, she wears very comfortable and flat shoes too.
So why do we do this to ourselves? Because we want to look pretty. And pretty shoes are hard to find when you look for flats. Comfortable shoes are often quite ugly. Just yesterday as I was walking around in my comfortable sandals the only other women wearing shoes like mine were about 65 or older. That seems to be the usual age for comfort becoming more important than looks. But I think that it must be possible to make shoes that are both comfortable and pretty. Fashion isn’t god-made. It is made by people. That high heels make a woman pretty is a stupid dogma that we have the power to dismantle. If women are asking for shoes that one can walk in, the industry will make them eventually.
Why this is a gender issue? Okay. Imagine a man wearing high heels walking down the stairs at a restaurant. Walking over gravel in the garden. Haha. Well, why isn’t this funny when a woman does it?
So I’m starting a revolution: the high heel boycott. Maybe I’ll even walk into shoe shops and ask for pretty and comfortable flats to wear to a wedding. Anyone in?