For the Love of High Heels
As I watch a fellow student teeter down the stairs in the campus center, her normally flamboyant bounce is no where to be seen as she tensely grips the guardrail. She lowers herself delicately down, each step carefully calculated. Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot- and she makes it to the bottom without mishap. The culprits encumbering her normally wild grace are easily discerned; her shoes. Her feet are wrapped up in four inch- plus a one inch platform to make for a total of five inches- fire engine red heels. They're strappy sandals that lace half way up her calves with a silk ribbon and have effectively made walking an ordeal. Why do we do this? Well darling, because "Shoes are hot!" (Benstock & Ferriss p1)
That's right, shoes are hot, and the hottest ones of all are high heels. They're collected, worn, and loved by women across the globe. They're everywhere. They run rampant in books, calendars, photographs, album and movie covers, dangling in miniature precious metal versions from earlobes and chains, and let's not forget the most important place- women's closets.
Shoes are no longer something one simply wears on their feet, but a passion, a hobby, one's personal statement, a source of authority, sexual independence and joy. They're a constant obsession in pop culture, endlessly talked about and fetishized in television, movies, song lyrics, and seem to be worn without fail by glamorous celebrities no matter the occasion. The most notorious of the shoe loving pop culture media is of the smash HBO series Sex in the City, in which shoes are one it's main themes.
Physically high heel shoes, and specifically the stiletto, are the source of much debate. More and more studies are emerging with resounding voices saying that shoes are physically detrimental. Foot doctors say that continual use of high heels with narrow toe space can actually lead to foot deformities. A clinical professor of orthopedics, Michael J. Coughlin says, "The deformities that often develop after years of wearing high-fashion pumps are similar to foot problems that were formerly seen in Chinese women whose feet had been bound." (Okie in Benstock and Ferriss) Additionally, long time wear of high heels is also being linked to knee arthritis in women, and most recently, back problems.
While health issues may be the immediate issue of high heel detractors, another is mobility. Whether the nine inch heels preferred by strippers or three inch "kitten heels" being worn by teenage girls, they reduce mobility and physical ease to varying degrees. Anyone who has ever worn a pair of stilettos knows the dangers that can ensue- everything from side walk grating, stairs, slick floors, anything faster than a leisure pace, any distance longer than a ten minute stroll, to the impossibility of crossing a lawn without sinking and being left to yank leg while balancing on the ball of the other sinking foot. Caroline Cox, author of the...