Why I stopped wearing high heels
According to the Wall Street Journal, the high heel might be dead. Well, not DEAD-dead, nothing in fashion is ever really dead. But recently, flats have replaced the six-inch stiletto everyone was rocking a few years back, and the high-end footwear industry is responding. (Even Christian Louboutin is making sneakers now.)
What WSJ is saying is high heels seem like they’re kind of dead for the time being because, as they put it: “Running shoes, Birkenstocks, Teva-type hiking sandals and Adidas-style slides were among the low shoes with a high profile during recent spring fashion shows on the runway—and in the audience.”
If this is true, temporarily true at least, I am in luck because I am REALLY bad at wearing high heels. And platforms and wedges. If a shoe gives me more than an inch or two of height, I’m in trouble like whoa.
I got my first pair of high shoes my sophomore year of high school. They were Steve Madden platform sandals, with dark jean straps, and a sandalwood colored base. They were so beautiful I thought they belonged in the Louvre. They were also four inches of platform and virtually impossible to walk in. I was late to class in these platforms. I wobbled so hard in these shoes it was a miracle I didn’t break my ankle every day of that school year. Every once in a while I caught a glance, via my peripheral vision, of a pack of rando girls laughing at my attempt to walk in these shoes.
Weirdly enough, I never blamed the shoes. I always blamed myself. “If only I was the kind of girl who could walk like a normal person while wearing high shoes,” I would silently say as I also silently kicked myself. What I never really thought was “These shoes are RIDICULOUS. Of course I can’t walk in them. Human feet were not designed to teeter in contraptions that take us several inches off the ground, that was never, like, part of the evolution of human biology.”
I tried high shoes a few more times, but it wasn’t until college that I retired high shoes from the regular rotation. This was in part because my hike to class could sometimes be 3/4 of a mile, and I challenge anyone who’s not a regularly working runway model to navigate that route in heels. Also, I took a costume history class in which I learned that if you want a character to appear powerless, you give that character a wobbly base. “Wait, but that’s exactly what I do when I wear high heels,” I thought to myself. “I give myself a wobbly base. Does that mean I’m costuming myself to be a powerless character?”
Of course, wearing heels doesn’t mean you’re powerless, but I will say that flats have been good for my body image. They’ve helped me accept the height I am and the way my body looks when it’s not propped up on stilts. They allow me to just look more like myself, and ultimately, I’m more comfortable—especially physically—because of it.
It’s also interesting to see how guys feel all the time. They walk around with a solid base. They can run away from something if they need to. They’re not on a self-imposed foot-stage. While sometimes it’s really fun to be on that stage, I realized, I don’t need to be on it all the time to feel good about myself.
Post-college, few of my jobs have required me to wear heels, and I rarely self-impose the footwear, with the exceptions of weddings and fancy birthday parties. Even when I wear heels, I’m never, like, thrilled about this life choice. I like looking at my legs for all of five seconds in my full-length mirror before I go out for the night, and then the heels sitch is all downhill from there. My feet hurt all night and I’m constantly galumphing down the street to catch up to my husband who is moving much faster than me because his legs are way longer and also he isn’t wearing crazy-town shoes. I’m never like “Good job self, for sucking it up and wearing heels, A for the day!” at the end of a heels outing. No, I’m much more like “NEVER AGAAAAAIIIIIIIIN.” Like I said, I’m not very good at wearing heels.
Look, if you kill at the heels game, all the props in the world to you. I don’t know how you do it, I may or may not secretly think you’re an extraterrestrial with bioengineered legs who was brought to Earth to plot the enslavement of the human race, but still, I’m really happy for you that you are good at wearing heels and you like doing it. Everyone should wear what makes them feel great about themselves.
But for all of us that straight up hate that heels life, fingers crossed tight that comfortable flats stay in style for a good long while to come. Not that anyone should be a slave to fashion, but it’s always nice when the times support our life choices.