Why I’m not Giving up my Heels

A few days ago a friend of mine posted online her resolution never to wear high heels again. Now, in the event she happens to read this, I want to make it clear I’m not critiquing her post or her resolution. If she doesn’t want to wear high heels, I don’t think she should wear them. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with expressing her feelings publicly. It’s just that her post got me thinking about high heels in general, and more to the point, the arguments I’ve heard against them in other places. And then I got annoyed.

Let’s start by acknowledging I love my high heels and I’m not giving them up and a huge chunk of this post is nothing but self-justification. I like the way I look in high heels, I like the way I feel in high heels. I won’t be shamed into changing that.

Argument 1: They will damage my feet.

Yeah… I was a pointe dancer for seven years and now I’m a rope walker. There is nothing high heels will do to my feet that hasn’t already been done.

Argument 2: They are uncomfortable.

Well yes, some are. So are some flats. So really it’s not a matter of high heels or flats, it’s a matter of getting the right heels or flats. And a lot of times it’s also a matter of putting the right padding or insoles inside of them. Some of this is also a matter of anatomy: I have small, narrow feet with semi-high arches and toes that taper at the ends. Honestly, most heels fit me better than most sneakers. To find athletic shoes that fit I would generally have to special order narrow width shoes (since almost no stores stock narrow widths anymore). Why am I going to sink that kind of money into something that doesn’t even look good?

Argument 3: They are another tool through which men objectify women, giving them unnatural shapes and restricting their movement.

Yeah… okay. If you say so. I’m not saying there’s no truth to this one, but it really hasn’t been my experience. In fact, as previously mentioned in another post, most of the men in my life fuss at me for wearing heels. Either they’re intellectuals who are trying to earn feminist cred by making all of these arguments or they’re bothered by the fact that when I wear heels it makes me taller than them. It seems high heels makes me an object that men find more intimidating. That doesn’t bother me. I also don’t find they restrict my movement—again though, this is a matter of getting the right heels. My first pair of high heels was a pair of high heeled tap shoes; I learned to dance in heels before I learned to walk in them. If I can do wings and pull backs in heels, I can move about on a day-to-day basis in them.

Argument 4: They make women more vulnerable, making it harder for them to run away from attackers.

Okay… let me start by saying this makes me uncomfortable, because it seems a very small step from saying a woman makes herself more vulnerable to rape if she wears a short skirt. No, it’s not the same, because no one’s saying women get attacked because of the heels, but… yeah. I would also like to point out that Dana Scully proved years ago that you can run just fine in heels. Again, it depends on the specifics of the shoe and how well it fits. Having fallen on my ass in a parking lot yesterday when I was wearing flats, I’m acutely aware of the fact that I’m clutzy in any kind of footwear. But if your shoes fit well enough that they aren’t going to wobble underneath you, running’s not a big issue. I run on the balls of my feet anyway, so what’s going on back in the heels doesn’t matter much. Again, if you feel vulnerable wearing heels, don’t wear them. But I refuse to allow my footwear to be dictated by fear. And let’s not forget the offensive capabilities of high heels. Have you ever been kicked in the shins by someone wearing high heels? I have (okay, I kicked myself. My clutziness knows no limit). Seriously, who needs mace.

Adventures in Shoe Repair

I’ve always worn cheap shoes.  As a child, my mother didn’t see any point in spending money to buy shoes we were going to grow out of anyway.  In fact, a lot of my shoes were hand me downs from my sister.  (For a long time I did have to pay extra for the super narrow widths, but fortunately years of pointe dancing widened my feet out enough to allow for wearing most normal shoes).  Even as an adult, no matter how much my friends insisted to me it was worth investing in nicer shoes, I never bought into it.  There are a couple of reasons:

No matter how much they swore to me nicer shoes were more comfortable, my personal experience is that they aren’t.

Also, I love shoes.  And at $10 a pair I can have lots of shoes whereas for $80 I could only have a couple pairs.

No matter how much they tell me said nice shoes will last longer, the few times I’ve purchased a nice pair (on sale, of course) I manage to scuff them badly the first or second time out the house in them.  This is why I can’t have nice things.  Add to that, years of pointe dancing and tap dancing gave me over developed muscles in the balls of my feet.  So while the idea of buying nice shoes and getting them resoled was appealing in principle, I wore out the tops long before the bottoms.  So it didn’t work for me.

Well, years have gone by and I’ve lost some of my muscle tone.  I’m still not buying shoes for more than $40 (and if I pay $40 for them they’re going to have to be boots; I try to keep things in the $20-30 range), but I’m not wearing out the tops.  Now the most common problem I have is snapping the tips off the heels.  I blame it on too much walking around on brick.  (It seems no matter where I move, I cannot get away from brick sidewalks!)  It’s probably worth adding at this point the fact that I’m a really good bargain shopper.  At least a quarter of my shoe collection came from thrift stores and I happen to know a place that has buy 1 get 2 free sales several times a year.

So this week I had my first experience with shoe repair.  The thing which finally pushed me into it was I have this fabulous pair or red, knee-high suede boots.  With somewhat spikey heels, one of which lost its tip a couple years back.  Now I love these shoes, and haven’t been able to part with them, but I’ve only worn them a couple times in the past two years because they make my legs uneven and the circumcised heel makes an awful sound on concrete.  But I only paid $16 for them in the first place, so repairing them seemed so silly!

I finally decided to be silly and took them to the shoe repair place around the corner (along with a pair of $30 ankle boots).  I figured I’d never find boots like that for that price again, so I’d just bite the bullet.  What an amazing experience!  First you have to understand that not only was the tip of the heel snapped off, the suede was all peeled back on the heel, exposing the white plastic and metal core underneath.  When the man behind the counter looked at them with a frown, I said, “I realize there’s probably nothing you can do about that.” He scoffed and motioned to the man working in the corner and said, “This guy’s an artist.  You’d be amazed.” Intrigued (and probably bored) the Sicilian-American cobbler came over to look and in a matter of seconds and pulled and twisted the suede back into place so you could never tell it had been ripped.  Yes, I was amazed.

They told me I could wait—it would only take about fifteen minutes to get both shoes done.  This meant I could sit there and listen to some very colorful language, not to mention some delightful banter: “What’d you do?  Walk from Alaska in these shoes?” “No.  Just Virginia.”  And in the end my shoes were not just repaired, they were beautiful.  They took the time to brush them and re-dye parts of the black ankle boots that were scuffed.  My shoes are like new!

And it was only $14/pair, plus they gave me a discount just for being a redhead (no one tell them the truth!)

So I officially give the shoe bargainer stamp of approval to shoe repair.  And, as another friend pointed out, it’s also the eco-friendly option.

Wobbly Shoes

I’m in the market for a new pair of sneakers.  My current pair are pretty slick on the bottom and grass stained on the top.  I mentioned this to someone this week and they started in on how I have to get those new Reeboks with the “balance balls to help your butt!”

Eh?

Okay, first of all, yeah, my butt’s nothing to write home about, but it’s not like I need to be reminded of the fact so, thanks a lot.

Second, balance balls?  I’m going to assume we’re not talking about the chair-sized rubber ball I sometimes use to exercise.

So, since I used to like Reeboks, I thought I’d try to figure out what the heck this person had been talking about.  As it happened, I caught an ad on TV before I had a chance to google this.

You have GOT to be kidding me.

So, these shoes?  Apparently they’re not flat on the bottom.  They have rounded lumps you have to balance on.  The theory is that as you struggle to keep your balance on these bizarre devices, you work extra muscles (apparently in your ass).

I swear I’m going to try these on just to see if I have to sign a waiver to do it, because that sounds like a lawsuit in the making.  I mean, usually the goal with sneakers is to try to find shoes that won’t screw with your balance.  Even when we women go for those insane high-heels the ultimate goal really isn’t to throw ourselves off balance (it’s an unfortunate side effect which we’re just as happy to avoid).  When you’re talking about comfy shoes that you actually do things in like walking and jogging?  Seriously, that’s not just ill advised, it’s potentially dangerous.

I fall enough independently.  And if fighting to maintain one’s balance was the path to a nice ass, I should look like bloody J-Lo.  Although possibly the part where I continually land flat on my ass is destroying any progress….

I think I’ll just go back to my usual plain ol’ sneakers that don’t accelerate me falling down.

And I’ll live with my butt just like is.