Monday, March 27, 2006

HHH is for High Heel Hater?

Somebody accused me of hating high heels, a hatred motivated by my recent diagnosis. However, I'm far from being a black and white issue sort of person. I don't hate high heels per se. In fact, I think many are quite beautiful, and I even kept a few pairs in my wardrobe (after getting rid of about 6 pairs recently). Why, since I've expressed my general disapproval of maiming one's feet deliberately? Well, because 2 of the pairs I've kept are just too beautiful to be thrown out, and on certain occasions (limo + night at the opera + limo back) I can imagine wearing them, and the other 2 or 3 are in fact incredibly comfortable, due to the fact that one is a Taryn Rose (more on this wonderful brand later) and the others are between 2 and 2 1/2", a height almost acceptable with a certain type of heel construction.

In general, I agree with the fabulous Erin at A dress a day that no matter what one wears, it's ok with me as long as it's apparent that they put some THOUGHT into it and made an effort to express themselves through it. So, yeah, if stilettos are who you are, sure, go ahead...

Still, every single day I will spot women in 3+" spike heels, holding on precariously to their balance, while their knees are locked into awkward positions as they're trying to inch their way acros the pavement. I see them walking slowly, in a somewhat undignified way--legs shaped as a horseshoe, stopping frequently in front of a window or other, grimacing from time to time, or sometimes a perpetual frown etched between their brows. I see sweet girls on dates inching along in their 4" stilettoes, 3-4 band-aids perking up on their heels on underneath the vamp. At times somewhat plump women (who, you know, must suffer even more) sex up with a pair of dangerously high and slim heels, trying to balance their suffering by an exaggerated sway of their ample hips. I see petite women who, a la Carrie Bradshaw, try to achieve stature by putting on a 4-incher, and they move fast, as fast as they can, for they know they can't stand the pain any longer and they must get there quickly or die.

I find it hard to believe that stilettos express who these women are. Rather, they express what they want to be, or, rather, what a patriarchal society wants them to be.

Women who "can" wear high spike heels on a regular basis simply have a higher tolerance to pain than those who "can't." They might also have more fragile egos. While I certainly wouldn't seek to ban such heels from usage, I think I see them used inappropriately far too often. We're not at the Oscars, for Chrissake, when we go shopping or having coffee with a friend or to school, or even to work. Fashion is meant to make us look beautiful, and we can't be beautiful if we're not comfortable in our skin (a woman comfortable with herself is infinitely sexier than one riddled with insecurities)--and those stilettoes aren't going to do anything for your comfort.

Of course, this widespread use of the stiletto in what I think are inappropriate contexts comes from the idea that stilettos make us sexier (you know, make our butts protrude 25% more, our breasts perkier, and our sillhouette more "feminine"), which in turn is based on the idea that women must achieve sexiness at whatever cost. It's no longer crippling corsets, it's crippling heels--and that's fine, as long as we're desirable to the opposite sex. As long as, in other words, we're tools of the patriarchy.

I'll pick up this thread in another post.


At 7:50 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

"we can't be beautiful if we're not comfortable in our skin"

Great post and profoundly important topic. Nothing is less elegant than not being able to move or function, or the grimace of pain being caused by what you are wearing.

At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your post. Heels have a time and a place (the red carpet, the bedroom, standing still looking elegant a cocktail party) but pain, awkwardness, claw-like toes, blisters and band aids do not make women look beautiful!

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