Why high heels?

Hello everyone!

I have been woefully late in writing anything lately, which is probably due to a combination of factors — some of them including writer’s block, and all of them relating to the fact that this is the end of the semester, and my academic life took a turn for the excitingly-rapid-fire-worst.

I’m ready to accept the fact that this weekend is going to be a doozy. But before I embrace those organic molecules and inject them into the very fiber of my being, let’s talk a little bit about fashion. More specifically, painful fashion. Because we all know that it’s out there, running rampant in every clothing and shoe department in every shopping center. So, what I’m wondering is…

Why do we wear high heels?

Why have women constantly been relegated to painful fashion? I’m going beyond the traditional scope of corsets and foot-binding (though I know we are all just dying to look at pictures of invisible waistlines and mutilated feet). I’m talking about a very personal, daily struggle for many women — our choice of shoes. Why do I get the sense that women have to do a lot of painful things to even keep up with the most current fashion trends?

Me, I don't really get it.

Me, I don’t really get it.

Christian Louboutin, the fashion designer who helped return the stiletto to popularity, once said:

I hate the idea of natural. For example, I prefer gardens to wild nature…High heels are a complete invention – an extravagance. They’re far from natural, but it’s the impracticality that I adore. I prefer the useless to the useful, the sophisticated to the natural.”

Yup. Definitely less useful.

Yup. Definitely less useful.

Useless? Hates the idea of natural? Hm. I don’t know, that doesn’t really jive with me.

There are a lot of things that I would like to say about this topic, especially since this type of fashion is even “useless” to one of it’s own creators. Foot-binding was a very obvious detriment to women, since it left them absolutely incapacitated and unable to contribute much  due to a lack of mobility. To me, the same argument can be made for high heels; they are a shoe that lacks a fundamental function of any shoe, and that is the ability to travel, and that does not seem to benefit women and the expectations they are meant to have for their bodies. Is attractiveness linked to the seeming handicap? Are women deemed more attractive the less they are able to do in their clothes?

Walking with danger

Walking with danger

But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Perhaps my concerns with the health of women’s bodies and feet in particular are unfounded. I will admit that I am not a connoisseur of heels, so I definitely come from a distinctly biased corner. So this week, I actually would like to hear from you, my readers.

What is your experience with high heels, and how does it impact how you feel about yourself? Have you ever thought of them as a hindrance, or a benefit, and why?

This time I would like to hear your perspective, so send me a comment on this site, and we’ll try this whole cyber-conversation thing out!

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6 thoughts on “Why high heels?

  1. Anne Langdon says:

    Nothing like a good pair of high heels that pulls an outfit together, not gonna lie my confidence is boosted 100% with the perfect heels. Can’t forget the added bonus that a heel does wonderous things to anyone’s legs. If I am self conscious about my legs in flats, even the slightest heel changes my mind! In that “just turned a teenager phase” I did even wear heels that killed my feet, (not the best move). There’s a time and a place to wear the perfect, yet uncomfortable shoes. However, I would like to note, to where heels is not always uncomfortable vs fashionable, the best heels both look great and are comfy!
    On a side note, really interesting comparison that some “really attractive” or at least fashion trends of clothing often impedes women’s mobility. There is a lot if truth to that! I wonder if boys not wearing a belt impeded their mobility? Alas, I digress. I’m interested in what others have to say!

  2. Deanna Pellerano says:

    I detest heels. They are so hard to walk in, and it is very difficult for me to keep my balance in them. I cannot stand the clacking sound they make when I walk in them nor the fact that they make it difficult to pedal the piano in performances. I do own a few pairs though, but I try to avoid them.

  3. Deanna Pellerano says:

    However, I will say that it is not just heels that hurt your feet. I still have scars from a pair of flats I wore a couple of months ago

  4. ogue says:

    I agree with Deanna about the pain of flats, but I don’t have such a hate for heels. I don’t wear them much anymore, but in highschool I had to wear them all the time on the days I had step team practice (dressing up was a requirement). I enjoyed learning to be mobile even in heels. Leaping up stairs felt like a greater accomplishment. Also, I think wearing heels helped me learn to be confident. Typically, towering over people in heels would make me feel self-conscious and make me want to shrink, but those feelings eased as I continued. Heels have taught me not to hide.

  5. Emily Hauge says:

    Well my family can say affirmatively that if I had the opportunity and the means, I would get every girly, fashion trend there is–just to try it! Personally, I agree with the way heels make my legs look good, and a nice pair of 1 or 1-1/2 inch heels are not too bad. But my feet can’t take high heels for very long! And props to anyone who can walk in 4, 5 inch heels, because I think my ankles would snap!!
    (Besides, my boyfriend is only about 3 inches taller than me, so there’s an excuse not to wear heels!!)

  6. I’ve always seen high heels as a novelty in clothing, an article whose complicated appearance and difficulty wearing brings attention to its purpose as a symbol for the wearer rather than just covering a part of the body. I used to think of high heels as symbols ranging from sexual appeal (glass-clear heels) to professionalism, but that’s too varied and sounds silly. To me, they seem to be symbols for femininity, whether this is a good thing or not.

    I belong to a Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow-cast group in which men in drag often perform in front of an audience. Every show there is always one guy who struggles to walk around in high heels, and everybody seems to treat his struggle as a sort of initiation passage into his drag queen-ness. Observing this behavior, I get the feeling that this is the key component in the making of a drag queen; despite all the makeup, wigs and dresses, what completes a queen is her high heels and the way she walks around in them. Just as drag queens, at least to me, are a novel and comical portrayal of femininity by men, high heels seem to be the same. I always just feel that I can’t take high heels seriously; they seem to lampoon the feminine. I don’t think I can say that for the women that wear them, though…

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