Heel the World

Women Walking Across the Street Wearing Spike Heels by James Burke

I work at a public library so the people I run into on a daily basis are by no means there to impress anybody. They’re there to pick up the copy of The Hunger Games that they waited two months for and be on their way. 


So, I was especially taken aback today when I saw a ridiculous girl in ridiculous shoes walking up the cobblestone, inclined breezeway that makes up our building’s entrance. Trudging uphill. Like a horse who’s seen better days. Often, women like this make me narrow my eyes in envy and I hate them for being able to masterfully pull off a pencil skirt and tucked-in blouse. This one, however, I smugly scoffed at. Partly because the August heat can make me mean-spirited and partly because pencil skirts and tucked-in blouses just don’t look all that good when they’re hunched over as a symptom of shoes that, let’s be honest, weren’t meant for walking on in real life. Stilettos in the library. Stop it right now.


I see her type other places, too. Downtown, at corners, standing with a group of her peers.  Others like her. Uptight, coffee in hand, prayer on lips. Men laughing. Men whose sensible business shoes have actually managed to get more comfortable in this, the modern workforce. Insoles have been invented. Breathing technology has been added to leather. Shock resistance to soles. If only this were true for the standard issue shoe for stylish women professionals these days.

Women entered the workforce in droves in the 80s, complete with sensible pumps (which we still complained about) and tennis shoes in our bags. Sure, these sneakers were horrifying when paired with pantyhose and dress suits, but we knew that it was just craziness to walk around all day in heels.  The 90s were a lost age of flip flops, Dr. Martens and clogs. Then, something went amiss in the past decade with professional wear for young women and the heel not only returned, but with a vengeance. Like an evil twin version of itself. With fangs that, instead of ferociously facing out, attack from the inside onto the wearer.


Sure, some women can pull off the 16-hour stiletto wear (I mean, I personally think they’re lying to themselves and us all) and to them, I tip my hat. To the others ready to give up the charade, I have a plea.


I beg you now, corner girls clutching your lattes for dear life: simply give the heels a rest. I promise your ensemble will look just as thrilling with a lesser heel. A wedge. A (silence, please) flat. We’ve come this far. Do not hold us back because of the cute factor. Yes, everything you’ve learned on tv and in fashion magazines says I’m wrong and I was only half serious when I promised you’ll look as amazing as ever without your heels, but this next point you cannot argue with. WHO honestly CARES?  Are you really going to lose friends over your shoe choices? No. What about your work image? Your boss will probably appreciate a more focused, less pain-ridden employee. There are just so many other ways to make yourself look and feel fabulous that don’t require physical pain. I like red lipstick. I implore you to discover your own or else risk looking like a giraffe recently shot by a tranquilizer gun.  Who am I to give this advice? I’m a 5’2” gal that probably should be wearing heels to elongate my form and all that nonsense, but I don’t. Because it’s insane. Poke fun all you want, but you can ask anyone, as much as I complain about everything, I’ve never complained about my feet hurting.

Image courtesy of Art.com