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.