On Saturday I went to synagogue in my typical attire of skirt, blouse and high heels.  As I was dropping off my daughter at her group activity, one woman I had never met before remarked: “How do you wear such high heels?”  Having been asked that question hundreds of times, I just came back with my standard retort : “Oh, I was born in high heels.”  The irony about all of this is that Fashion Week is going on around the corner and you can’t help but bump into hundreds of fashionistas in the highest (and coolest looking) heels imaginable!

While I’m used to the question, I still get a bit pissed when asked it.  Do people really care how I can physically maneuver in high heels or is there something else behind the comment?  I never turn around and ask them, how do you walk in those flats, which are actually detrimental to your feet (take it from me, I ruined my plantar fascia thanks to wearing ballet flats in the mid 90’s when they were all the rage).

Tight girdles, piercings, hair frying bleach, burning hair irons or just crazy high-priced skin care products are just some of the items we subject ourselves to in the name of beauty.  But there’s no question that high heels hold some special status as the ultimate in subjugating accessories.  Deborah Rhode’s Beauty Bias has no imagery on its cover EXCEPT a picture of a single high heel shoe.

What’s going on here?

Sure, I couldn’t run a marathon in high heels, but I can walk pretty damn fast in them.  So you can’t argue they’re chaining me down.  You could say they pinch your feet and therefore put you in pain.  But I just make sure to buy ones that are comfortable.

I think it’s the transformative power of high heels that ultimately explains the antipathy they sometimes generate.  And high heels are certainly powerful.  As one woman said to me this weekend, “Before I put on my heels I feel like a blob – short and fat.  But when I slip them on, I feel strong and beautiful.”  And like many powerful things in our society, e.g., money, we often hate and love them at the same time.

I say it’s time to get over it.  Whether you wear them or not, let’s welcome the power of the high heel!

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