We’re not all blessed with the aptitude for curving our feet into the artificial S pose, the talent of balancing the tips of our heels onto a slither of a wedge. It’s not every young woman’s calling, yet the majority of us respond to society’s appeal for the long, lustrous sexy legs attained by the elevated shoe.
I can’t walk in heels… I just can’t. Save for the times I’m slightly inebriated, which for some reason whisks with it the magical capability of maintaining the composure of my usually testy feet. Or if the shoe features a thick wedge and a front platform. But for the most part, I’m the waddling penguin who seems to have grabbed a pair of shoes from her mother’s closet.
So when a male friend commented that, someday, I’d have to learn to love the heel (“That’s what all women wear in the workplace”) my eyes rolled upwards and I let out a heavy, disheartened sigh.
Really, where does a man who never faces the challenge of pulling the pencil skirt over ‘child bearing hips’ and who, last time I checked, saunters comfortably into work, feet clad in the one inch, thick, large heels that don’t even count as heels, possibly begin to think he has a say in what type of shoe a woman should wear? When did society decide pain is beauty and that foot binding is cruel but heel wearing is acceptable, required? Why is it that I am expected to don heels on a night out and soak pained feet in a bath of warm water the morning after?
And why is it that I still wish I could pull off the four-inch pumps laying in my closet because I happen to love the look they leave me with?
I hold the 1500s responsible – the barely five-foot, 14-year-old Catherine de Medici, to be precise. To compensate for her lack in height (and apparently self- esteem), little Medici fashioned a pair of heels for her wedding day, in an attempt to temporarily grow two inches. (I would be perfectly comfortable, mind you, if heels had stopped at the two-inch mark. Now those I can strut about in.) Medici’s heels revolutionized generations of women’s shoe closets to come, from the iconic Marilyn Monroe’s The Seven Year Itch stilettos to Gaga’s modern shoes-gone-art.
Regardless of what my male friend believes; I’ll forever be the employee in the cute flats, hidden among the wedge enhanced, 5’8 women of my workplace. But every once in a while, I’ll also be the one waddling along, giving into society’s pressure to curve up on the balancing act we call ‘wearing high heels.’ Just look for the penguin with the sexy long legs.