Women and Heels


There is much debate over when high heels were first invented, but rumor has it that during the fifteenth century, Mongolian horsemen grew tired of their feet slipping out of their stirrups and created boots with a heel to remedy the problem. Women quickly approved of the heels, for no female wanted to see her man lying on the ground in a heap while his horse danced a jig around his head. Unfortunately, one night, a Mongolian horseman changed everything when he slipped off his boots, rubbed his sore feet, and said to his wife, “I think you’d look great in these. Try them on … just for fun.” She did and the rest is history.

Since that fateful day, women and heels have nurtured a love/hate relationship like no other. Women have been known to enter their closets and kiss their beloved pair of red pumps when they know no one is looking. In sharp contrast, women have also been known to take off a pair of stilettos after a long night on the dance floor and whisper to each shoe, “I hate you with all my heart.”

At one time women dusted, vacuumed, and cooked dinner in high heels. But with the arrival of the feminist revolution, women soon realized there was no way they could burn bras and protest in the streets while stumbling around in stilettos and promptly shunned them for a lower heel. Sales of Band-Aids plummeted. Podiatrists nearly went out of business. A few years later, shoe designer Manolo Blahnik made a splash in the world of fashion with his gorgeous high heels. Women everywhere couldn’t race to the trash can fast enough with their kitten heel pumps. A new high heel revolution was born.

Today, women wear high heels for a variety of reasons, none of which are because they are comfortable. We wear high heels because we want to look taller. We wear high heels because we think they make our legs look longer, our chests bigger, and our buttocks smaller. As we all stagger around like drunken sailors on stilts staggering about on the deck of a ship in the middle of a tropical storm, we secretly hope that someone—somewhere—happens to notice that our legs look longer, our chests look bigger, and our buttocks smaller. More importantly, we really hope they don’t hear us muttering as we rush to find somewhere to sit down and take off our shoes, “Ow … Ouch … these freakin’ heels are killing my feet.”

One Sunday when I was a teenager, I donned new high heels just before I began walking the ten blocks to church. Things went great for the first nine blocks, but as the sounds of the ringing church bells grew louder, I abruptly rolled my ankle and landed on the sidewalk in a heap of gawky klutziness. I lay helpless on the cement—my high heels still somehow adhered to my feet, but twisted in such a way that the bottom of the shoe now rested on the top of my foot. A few cars slowed. One stopped and the driver yelled out the window, “Are you okay?” Embarrassed beyond belief, I shakily nodded as I held my feet up and said proudly, “Don’t you just love my shoes?”

There will always be debate whether high heels empower women or not. The great thing is that we are all unique creatures who have choices. Women are free spirits who sometimes just want to feel as beautiful on the outside as they feel on the inside. And I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.


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