From Our Readers

I Refuse To Wear Heels

Magpie of Maryjanes, Dictator of d’Orsays, Stiletto Queen, wearer of all things high-heeled; these monikers no longer describe me and are a thing of my past. I look back on my pump wearing days and I cringe in pain and disbelief that I once found them just as comfortable as tennis shoes. Youth makes us dumb at times. If you are reading this now, I’m probably wearing metallic flats and loving it while you suffer in heels.

My life in heels started at the age of 12 with a pair of purple suede clogs. They were dope. My older sister was in high school at the time, so I had direct knowledge of the big girl fashion trends and I brought them to middle school with me. Those purple clogs made me a pint-sized trailblazer and sent me towards my shoe destiny. My heels evolved with the trends over time. My generation wore the half-ankle boot, chunky platforms, high heel tennis shoe and the high heel jelly. My shunning of all things flat became apparent with my refusal to wear Birkenstocks. Birkenstocks worn with colored socks were all the rage, but I avoided them like James Franco did his Academy Award hosting duties. This foresight for avoidance was short-lived, as I would succumb to the great colored UGG boot hysteria of 2004. That’s a different story for a different time though.

I loved wearing heels. I loved being super freaking tall; taller than most men even. Come on up to my level, fella. Ha, you can’t! At 5’7, I’m considered tall-ish, but wearing heels took me into giant lady territory. I towered over shorter people so much that they seemed like my little pets. I felt like a super model. Heels instantly dressed up every outfit: jeans, skirts, dresses, the capri pant trend of ‘99. I found them comfortable too. I never had any back pain, no toe crunching or sliding. I felt completely at ease in heels. I looked at photos of models taking spills in their giant runway shoes and thought, “that would never happen to me.” If you could build it, I could walk in it. My greatest triumph in heels happened when I wore stiletto slingbacks to my college graduation. They had a killer vamp; I’m all about a good vamp on a shoe. Did I mention that my graduation was held on a grass lawn? Yes, that’s right, I leaned forward the whole time and never created so much as a divot in the grass. That’s how adept at wearing heels I once was.

Ladies young and old would often compliment my shoes and add that they wished they could still wear heels. I asked, “why can’t you wear them?” The ladies recounted stories of back pain and general misery; of crooked toes and fallen arches. They cautioned that one day I too, would no longer be able to wear heels. These ominous warnings hung over me for years. I wanted to wear heels forever. Who wouldn’t want to wear them? Heels give you a sexy bounce when you walk and they make you feel like Anna Wintour in the front row of something. Heels are fabulous!

I cannot pinpoint the exact day it happened, but there came a time when I could no longer stomach putting heels on. I attribute this to the natural aging process that we all go through, except for Helen Mirren. Aging takes much from us: time, energy, calcium stores and even the ability to wear heels. Every time my heels hit the ground, I did not feel sprightly anymore. Instead, I felt the shock wave of heels-to-pavement reverberate up my spine and shake my bones. I had bunions all of a sudden and they would enrage when placed in pumps. I found myself slipping on floors like a fledgling toddler instead of striding along with my usual grace. There came a time when I looked at the stilettos, stacked heels, pumps and kittens in my closet and the thought of putting them on, walking in them and existing in them all day made me angry. It happened; I was the girl who wore flats now.

Flats were great. I always thought they would make me look short (yes, tall-ish girls worry about being short). I felt much better in flats. My bunions, Fred and Monty, did not get angered anymore. I could run faster, advert obstacles with ease, and look stylish while doing it. After a while, I embraced wedges, but I wasn’t used to the height anymore. I thought, “holy crap, I’m a giant!” I feared that the town people would run away from me screaming, so I stuck with flats.

According to Avery Jessup, “flats are for quitters.” That’s okay, I quit. Flats are the more comfortable and practical choice for me. We cannot know the exact date that the zombie apocalypse will strike, pop culture dictates that it will happen, but I will be wearing flats when it does. In flats (preferably ones with good traction), I will be able to run away from the zombie hoards, easily leaving Kelly Ripa in my dust because she continues to don the impractical heel. Of course, if I’m unfortunate enough to become a zombie (maybe they caught me or that virus infected me in the first wave?), flats will still serve me because a zombie in heels cannot catch anyone and is easily tripped. Flats will work in both scenarios.

Today, I exclaim, “I refuse to wear heels!” They are uncomfortable and there is actually no practical application for them. I still admire a pretty pump, but as art. My old heels sit in my closet, largely forgotten and insulted. They sometimes make it out for mostly-sitting-occasions, but even then they piss me off.

Ladies, I will bestow the wisdom to you that was given to me once. There will come a day when you no longer wish to wear heels because they will hurt like a mother%*$. I was once a non-believer like you, but trust me when I say that this day will arrive. We will never be like Carrie Bradshaw. Flats forever!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on heels. Do you hate them? Love them? Hate them, but wear them anyway? Do you wear shoes at all or are you more of the Jack Johnson-always-barefoot-type? Lemme know.

You can follow Tanya L. on Twitter.

Feature image via.

  • Kaye Anna

    I definitely wouldn’t consider myself too old at tender age of 25 but I DO NOT wear heels. I dislike them with a passion and quit them faster than you can say Manolo Blahniks when I was 19. I don’t like the idea of walking with my feet contorted in some fashion, I’m not gonna lie having people see you as a mature confident woman is a bit trickier in ballet flats but I’m sticking to my guns.

  • Wolf Wolfkin

    I do not wear heels. I have in fact never worn heels in my life. They never looked that comfortable to me at all! I have been known to go for a square heeled boot, but never more than two inches. Here’s why; I am short. like 5’3″ short, and because of this while I was growing up I always had to point my toes to touch the floor in school. This resulted in a shortened achilles at a very young age. I can not fathom wearing an uncomfortable shoe that makes this painful affliction worse in the name of anything. Give me a solid cross trainer anyday.

  • Kristina Swallow

    I HATE wearing heels. They are so unbelievably uncomfortable and I just don’t wear them. I have no idea why I’m expected to, but I think my mum is genuinely disappointed when I emerge ready to go out either in flats or a pair of boots. I have a very low pain threshold, so I just don’t want to put myself through any of it unnecessarily.

  • Dana Maria

    I often reminisce about the shoes I wore in high school (I can still picture my favorite pair– Kenneth Cole, black leather, strappy, 4 inch heel) and think how. on. Earth. did. I. wear. these?? I used to RUN in them when I was late for class. I had to throw them out not because they were uncomfortable, but because I wore them to DEATH.

    Now I am the queen of flats and wear all the granny/hippie granola brands: Birkenstock, Dr. Scholl’s, Ugg, etc. They may not look so hot, but I’m too damn comfy to care. I try on heels now and walk like a newborn giraffe. I will never go back to ’em! FLATS FO LYFE

  • Kim Damman

    It’s true you seem to be taken more seriously wearing heels in a business setting. Which is ridiculous. I’d rather rely on my intellect to reflect my maturity.
    Never wearing them.

  • Mizzy Hanson

    When I was in college, I wore a *rad* pair of black high-heeled boots – walking every day to and from class – 10 or 15 miles a day. That was over 10 years ago and I have not worn heels more than 2 or 3 times since then. I wear old-lady black sneakers to work and wear Sanuuks at home. My high-heeled-boot-wearing-days are over and NEVER to be repeated. Comfort before fashion now! To you younger ladies: DON”T MESS UP YOUR BACK! Flats are cute too!

  • Lacey Holtgreven Marquette

    Before having my son I always wore heels, I loved them and I was more comfortable in them than a pair of tennis shoes. I had the same attitude, not understanding what people meant when they would complain about the pain of heels and saying that one day I wouldn’t be able to have them. Then the day came when my husband was worried about me tripping and hurting the baby, and my feet were swollen so I made the switch to flats and ever since it is like a switch was flipped. Heels are no longer comfortable, they seem to hit every pressure point as I walk – no matter how comfy they seem at first – and I just count down the seconds until I can take them off. I will wear them for those “mostly sitting occasions”.

  • Jill D. Robinson

    Flats are for quitters…That’s ok, “I quit”, is priceless.

  • Emily Rose Joseph

    I am six feet tall. I never wear heels, out of respect to normal sized people. I have one beautiful pair of black pumps, but they never get used. Sometimes I do wish I could wear them more often, but then I read articles like this…

  • Johanna Sch

    I’m 6’1”, so I generally do make the town people run away in fear, and that’s without heels! On the rare occasion (think graduation, prom, weddings) that I do wear heels, I am always happy to take them off again as soon as I can – not because they’re uncomfortable, but because they completely mess up my center of gravity, and I feel really unbalanced in them. I do envy short ladies with rockin’ heels, though. But I guess you can’t have everything!

  • Alaina Whiteman

    I’m 22, and prefer wedges over heels. Although when going to meetings with clients, I throw on a pair of pumps and tough it out. I’m already starting to feel uneasy in pumps, but wedges I could run around in all day. Flats actually bother my back after a while. And I’m ignoring the slight bunion on my right foot. Ignorance is bliss…for now.

  • Holly Kooi

    I always enjoy the idea of heels but chicken out and go with flats (ex: my wedding). When I do wear heels, I’m the girl who needs someone by her side in case there’s a sidewalk crack attack. As for business wear, probably just depends on the job one has. Heels are safer at a desk job type profession than at a up-and-down all day job. When I was a wedding coordinator, I’d always tell the newbie coordinators to wear flats on wedding days, yet they’d always show up rockin’ heels. By the time the reception rolled around, those poor girls were walking around as if the ground was lava and they were trying to avoid touching it. Choose your shoes wisely! (and always choose flats!)

    • Callie Marie

      “Sidewalk crack attack” Love this! Might have to use it when I have my normal gravity checks on flat ground! :)

  • Deanna Dever

    Definitely a flats girl. I’ll wear heels once in a while, but I’ll always have backup flats just in case (dancing, travelling through Boston–cobblestones aren’t really compatible with heels)

  • Jennifer Hill

    Definitely a flats girl! I could never really pull off heels. Too painful.

  • Karen Taylor

    I wear heels, flats, wedges, sometimes even cowgirl boots (real cowgirl boots, not Hollywood boots). I wear whatever suits the situation, there is no need to go overboard on any single style. I’m happy, my feet are happy, and I don’t have any bunions to talk to each other!

  • Nathalie Galde

    This is a FACT. Heels are not meant to be worn for longer than an hour and a half.

  • Letícia Soares

    sure, there are definetely some occasions that ask for heels, but I HATE them. I’m a flats girl! there’s no way I’ll wear heels when I don’t actually have to.

  • Joan Oloff

    As a foot doctor, I loved reading about you thoughts and experience with heels. I grew up in the retail shoe business and always expected they would go out of style. The reality is they never will, so I’ve decided to build a better mouse trap. Soon, I’ll be launching m own line of heels, which will shift the center of gravity and off-load the ball of the foot. My goal was to build a shoe that would allow Cinderella to stay at the ball and dance all night long! I reject the notion that women have to be in pain to look good!

  • Erynn Fiscus

    i like heels as long as they’re not TOO tall. don’t get me wrong, i admire the beautiful shoes that many a designer comes up with. and i give props to women who aren’t afraid to wear a fierce shoe. but i like keeping it simple and comfortable….especially if there’s dancing involved.

  • Marina Press

    Great story! I’m also 5’7″ but I refuse to wear heels mainly because I hate feeling like a giant. There are times when I end up walking around in booties that skyrocket me into supermodel territory but I don’t always enjoy towering over people. Also – there’s that notion that heels make you look thinner. That’s absolutely bogus, I think. They just make your feet look ugly naked.

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