‘Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world’ – Marilyn Monroe
‘A woman with good shoes is never ugly’ – Coco Chanel
‘i would hate for someone to look at my shoes and say, ‘Oh my God! That looks so comfortable!’ – Christian Louboutin
‘Too many women think shoes are unimportant, but the real proof of an elegant woman is what is on her feet.’ – Christian Dior
‘I can’t concentrate in flats’ – Victoria Beckham
When I participated in Sinful Sunday for the first time, just before I turned 30, I wore stilettos for the first time in my life, and I loved them. I couldn’t walk in them, but god, I wanted to be able to. If I didn’t like heels, I’d have a much simpler relationship with them, one that would roughly equate to can’t wear them, doesn’t want to wear them.
I want to wear them.
That’s why I wore them in that photo: it was supposed to reflect me as I’d like to be seen, and I’d like to be seen as the kind of girl who wears heels.
Even though I think, rationally, that every one of those quotes above is bullshit.
It’s not that disability gives me the ability to not care about what I wear on my feet – that’s not a privilege disability buys you. At job interviews, weddings, formal dinners, I’m expected to look as elegant as the next woman. And yes, you can pull off elegance in flats, but they’re often not an option either – I can’t keep ballet pumps (or any court shoe) without a strap on my feet, so I rely on Mary Janes being in fashion each and every time I need to buy shoes for a formal event. Guess what? They’re not. And even when they are, I’ve grown to dislike them. They make me feel frumpy. They remind me that my body, not my mind, dictates the footwear I can and can’t wear.
I’m not the only one, of course. Every time the subject of shoes comes up on Twitter, a whole host of women commiserate with me because they can’t wear heels either. The reasons are myriad: arthritis, balance issues, hemiplegia, cerebral palsy …
It makes me feel less alone, but it also makes me pretty damn angry. Inspirational quotes are fine –they have, I’m sure, their place in life. But there is something about the way they describe some kind of everywoman – one who lives for shoes, kittens, handbags, chocolate and prosecco – that makes me angry. I can choose whether or not to define myself through most of those things, but believe me, when it comes to shoes, I, and many others, can’t.
I guess what I’m saying is please think twice before you use a woman’s choice of footwear to judge her more intangible qualities. Wearing heels shouldn’t be a marker of being elegant, grown-up, sexy, kickass, or anything else. To suggest otherwise just gives women like me another thing to beat themselves up with for not being feminine enough.
Wearing heels is indicative of two things:
- the ability to wear high heels
- the desire to wear high heels
It really shouldn’t be a marker of anything else. But, if you see a pair of cute, nude, mid-heel, elegant courts with a strap and maybe some embellishment, before the wedding I have to go to in May, please do let me know.