WARNING: This product may cause optical illusions resulting in delusions of feminine grandeur. Side effects have been known to mislead the public in relation to height and physical vigor. Extended use can result in podiatric deformities including corns, hammertoes, bunions and blisters, as well as back pain. This product may also lead to psychological co-dependency.
I was that girl. The one who could care less about whether or not my feet liked the idea of trolling around all day in elevated, toe-numbing footwear. All that mattered was that I looked cute—vanity trumping any concern I may have had for my own physical health or well-being. I bragged about being able to run considerable distances in them, and took to wearing them in casual settings in which I’d appear conspicuously overdressed. It got to the point where the only pair of flats I owned were my workout sneakers. In my heels I felt womanly, sophisticated, and above all, sexually appealing to the opposite sex. Without them, I felt slightly homely and boyish, albeit significantly comfortable.
It wasn’t until I began to adopt a more inherent approach to style—one that was indicative of my own insular tastes instead of something dictated by mainstream pop culture—that I began to realize how really out of touch I was, no matter how “in” I appeared. In fact, I, like many other women, was subconsciously tied to a hollow ideal of beauty, a standard that was not only limiting, but counterintuitive, causing more harm than good. Soon something in me saw the true beauty in all that was opposite of what was being purported as universally appealing. At that point high heels seemed excessive, restrictive and hyper-feminine; a product of pervasive media and male-induced conditioning.
Nowadays, the highest pair of heels I own are a modest, kitten-heeled bootie, and even those are worn on rare occasions. I find myself naturally gravitating towards shoes that are closer to the earth, in both a literal and metaphorical sense. I feel as though I’ve shed a crutch, and have come to rely on the things that aren’t as visible from the outside. But it seems to me that the more I see celebrities and models in ridiculously, sky-high heels, the more we are distancing ourselves from something that is indescribably substantial. That which screams sex is being perpetuated as preferential whereas beauty that is subtle and subverse is confined to the realm of unconventional.
There are some feminists who argue that high heels were designed to make women helpless and vulnerable, solidifying males as protectors of the slowly staggering women. This may or may not be true, but when you pay attention to the messages, it’s hard not find some validity in this claim.