Monday, May 21, 2012

Stilettos or flats - no compromise?

A Facebook friend posted a link to an essay in Saturday's Globe and Mail, titled Kick My High-Heel Habit? I'd rather you stab me with a stiletto. I wouldn't have read it otherwise. I would have seen the title and skipped over it, thinking that this was not something I'd like to read. But, since Kathe posted it, I read it - and then promptly wished I hadn't. Don't get me wrong - I'm happy that Kathe posted it and I'm glad I read it, but I wish I had not. I don't know if that makes any sense.

I wish I hadn't read it because stilettos annoy me. Platform shoes annoy me. Things that women do to their body to make themselves more attractive (or so they think) can cause serious and permanent harm, yet they feel that they must, or else they are not worthy. Worthy of what?

There is undeniable proof that wearing stilettos and four-inch heels is harmful. The stilettos put too much weight on two parts of the foot, a single spot on the heel and the toes. The high heels force your feet into unnatural and unhealthy positions, they throw your body out of balance, forcing tendons, ligaments and muscles to take on roles they aren't meant to. And, there is the accident factor. The twisting of ankles, the falling off the  platforms or heels - that has to count for something.

Have you seen the feet of celebrities who wear these types of shoes all the time? They're ugly. They're tough and veiny and misshapen. I recall an interview, long ago, of a celebrity who claimed she had to wear these shoes all the time because they were the only thing in which she felt comfortable. Of course that's the case. She altered the shape and function of her legs so that she cannot wear shorter heels. Of course shorter heels, or going barefoot, are uncomfortable.

And then, there's "the walk." Women can't walk in very high heels. They do a tiny step forward as they balance on their shoes, pushing themselves forward. A normal stride brings your body forward with your step. A tiny high-heel step doesn't allow for that as it doesn't bring the body forward. Your body stays behind and you must push it forward.

The British Columbia Podiatric Medical Association lists these conditions as women's foot health problems. It's obvious, that for a large number of them, women are causing these problems themselves:

Achilles tendinitis: inflammation of the Achilles tendon, the link between the calf muscle and heel bone. Those who wear high heels regularly can expect to acquire shortened tendons; switching to low heels for strenuous physical activity without appropriate warm-up exercises creates an ideal scenario for achilles tendinitis.
Bunions: misaligned big toe joints, which become swollen and tender. Bunions tend to be hereditary; however, biomechanical imbalances and shoes that are too narrow in the forefoot and toe may aggravate them.
Hammertoe: a condition in which the toe is contracted in a claw-like position. Although the condition usually stems from muscle imbalance, it is often aggravated by ill-fitting shoes, socks or hosiery that cramp the toes.
Metatarsalgia: general pain in the ball of the foot. It is often caused by wearing high heels.
Neuromas: enlarged, benign growths of nerves, most commonly between the third and fourth toes. They may stem, in part, from ill-fitting shoes, resulting in pain, burning, tingling or numbness between the toes and in the ball of the foot.
Plantar fasciitis: inflammation of the long band of connective tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot; a main cause of pain at the rear of the foot. This condition is sometimes caused by shoes that cramp the feet, especially in the arch area.
Pump bump (Haglund's deformity): a bone enlargement at the back of the heel bone, in the area where the Achilles tendon attaches to the bone. The deformity generally is the result of faulty biomechanics causing increased motion of the heel bone against the shoe counter.

In my mind, there is nothing wrong with wearing these types of shoes sometimes - as dress up - an evening out, a special event. But to wear shoes like this all the time? Why?

Do you disagree with me? What is the highest heel you will wear? I am most comfortable at a 1 inch heel. I've worn a bit higher, but I end up hurting all over when I do that.


Kathe Lieber said...

Great post, Marijke! So glad you picked up on my posting from the Globe & Mail.

Quite apart from the physiology, I've never understood the psychology (or the economics) of high heels.

It saddens me that in 2012, women still feel they need to deform themselves and harm their bodies to conform to some externally imposed concept of "beauty."

Karen said...

It's not only stilettos. It's shaving/dyeing/cinching to fit whatever definition of beauty is "in."

The sad thing about stilettos is that there are few girls, or women, who wear them gracefully. We did a show last year where the girls were courtesans,, trained to be sexy -- but they walked like football players. They clomp in their heels -- and don't achieve what they think they look like.

I'll keep wearing my flats, thank you!

Kate @ Teaching What Is Good said...

I stopped wearing heels of any kind when I started having babies...pregnancy and heels do NOT go together. But then I decided I much preferred being barefoot, so I've spent most of the past 25 years being barefoot (and with 8 children, I've spent a lot of that time pregnant as well).

My sisters have all had several foot surgeries due to their wearing very high heels. So I concur with your post!!

(from Blogathon)