I fucking hate high heels.
Yes, I understand that they elongate the leg, and plump up the calf muscle and make your booty pop, and I’ve always been told my legs are my best feature. After all, when you’re a 34A you get used to how the male eye tends to drift downwards in the hopes of finding something a little more exciting. So I love short skirts and I’m not above working what I’ve got. But I absolutely will not wear high heels. And while you ladies are free to choose your choice, I don’t think you should either.
Consider the following, courtesy of my beloved hometown newspaper: “Today, despite mounting evidence of the damage ill-fitting shoes can cause, women squeeze their toes to fit into oh-so-popular pointed-toe shoes. Wearing heels causes your foot to slide forward, “redistributing your weight, creating unnatural pressure points and throwing your body’s natural alignment out of whack,” according to the Mayo Clinic. High heels have “been linked to overworked or injured leg muscles, osteoarthritis of the knee and low back pain,” continues Mayo. “You also risk ankle injuries if you lose your balance and fall off your high heels.”
Yet we fetishize them non-stop. Thank you very fucking much, Carrie Bradshaw. There were many, many times I wanted to throw a (cute yet comfy) Chuck Taylor at my TV during SATC. Can’t buy your apartment because you spent it all on shoes? You’re a dumbass! Can’t get out of the taxi because you can’t walk a block in your heels? You’re pathetic!
And don’t get me started about men and heels. I have an ex-boyfriend who spent a fair amount of time and energy encouraging me to wear expensive, lofty high heels, even offering to buy them for me. Now, had his request been because he was all freaky-deaky about shoes, we could have come to a happy arrangement. I would have cheerfully pranced around in our bedroom in heels and worn them during sex and talked dirty about them. I’m nothing if not game in the kink department. But no, dear readers, he actually wanted me to wear them for hours on end, i.e. take the subway into Manhattan—standing up! a half hour each way!—so we could go to dinner and then for a romantic walk in Central Park. He, of course, would be wearing some nice flat leather dress shoes with cashmere blend socks.
I wasn’t up for it—that long standing and walking in high heels would leave my feet hurting for hours. But he persisted, and got petulant when I kept refusing. That’s when I got really, really angry and wound up giving him a size 8 piece of my mind.
It is not okay for us to be pressured into wearing anything that hurts, especially when it will cause long-term, serious damage to our bodies. Even more infuriating, there is no equivalent for men. Sure, a tie might feel a bit constricting, but even the most dedicated menswear enthusiast never required surgery because of extended necktie use.
And high heels put me at risk. I can’t run in them. I can’t fight in them. I am a runner and second-degree brownbelt in karate, so I’m especially sensitive to things that restrict movement. If you’re hobbled by smooth-bottomed, spike-heeled shoes, you’re in trouble. You can’t cross the street quickly. You have to be extra, extra careful on stairs and pavement. And if someone wants to mug you (or worse) good luck trying to fight back or run away. Heels prevent freedom of movement and make me vulnerable—two things the patriarchy has been inflicting on women for millennia.
For centuries men and women both wore high heels, mainly to gain a couple inches’ stature. But these days only women are pressured into ruining their bodies and suffering gracefully in order to live up to a beauty standard where the pain is as much self-inflicted as sexist pig-inflicted.
So fuck you, Manolo and Jimmy and Christian Loboutin. Fuck you women’s magazines, and Candace Bushnell and fashion industry for glamorizing something so damaging and making me feel like I can’t be beautiful unless I’m willing to suck it up and suffer. And yes, fuck you to all the men out there who tell me how much they love high heels without ever having to spend a single day in my shoes.