High heels/Low heels/No heels: How Do The Ladies Do It?

May 25, 2014 | 3:11 PM

I always hear a little starting gun go off in my head on Memorial Day. Well, first I hear a voice saying, "Ladies, take your marks" ... and then I hear the "bang!"   start-gun   Just what does that "bang!" announce the start of? For some, it may be a race to the beach; for others, a race to the cooler, or the garden. For me, it is the beginning of a race to liberate my aching feet from the tyranny of heels.   Barefoot-running     Ah, summer. Flip flops, sandals, sneakers … nothing. Heaven!!!!  "Why, oh why, do I suffer the other 9 months of the year," I always wonder, while scrunching sand between my toes.   Why? Because I'm vain! And I'm not alone.   Let's face it: Women have been wearing heels since, well, forever, as far as I can tell. Though research pins the trend back to the boots worn in the 9th century by Persian horseback warriors (who wore heels to keep from sliding out of their stirrups and to help them shoot straighter arrows when they stood up in their saddles), I'm sure the first thing Eve did when she was expelled from Eden was figure out where she could grab a cute pair of mules!  
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Persian men's shoes, 17th century

Somewhere along the road of time, men (excluding Prince) learned that wearing heels had some pretty severe side effects.  
Prince in heels

some Princely heels

They couldn't run as fast in them, or race up and down the stairs (with the exception of Prince) without risk of sprains or breaks. Their calves ached, they got bunions and hammer toe. Their lower backs hurt; their metatarsals collapsed. In short, men realized it was sheer folly to continue wearing them.  
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yup--- heels suck for your entire body

  Of course, when the global memo about the physical problems of wearing heels went out to the fashion industry of the world, the designers smiled and said, "Well, naturally men can't handle heels. But women are so much more talented. And they have a much higher threshold for pain. These chicks deliver babies; surely they can deal with a bunion or two!"  
Vintage Image of the "We can do it!" Rosie the Riveter Poster by
And so, we gals (and everyone else on the planet) became accustomed to the glories of high heels.
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Glory!

Luckily, as time has progressed, so have our options: ostensibly, we can still look chic (if we're clever) in lower heels and even in flats a la Audrey Hepburn.  
audrey in flats

dancing in flats

  But can we, really? Okay. So Audrey pulled off flat-chic in the film "Funny Face."  But what about live performers who aren't in a pair of cigarette pants in a scene that takes place in a basement bar?   backwards-in-high-heels1   Performers have to make some tough choices. High heels make the leg look better by accentuating the calf and creating the illusion of length. They also help the person wearing them feel sexier and more ferocious. High heels make whole outfits sing while low heels can destroy it all!  
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Cyd Cherise and Fred Astaire

 
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Gaga

 
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Posh

 
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Tina

 
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Beyonce, getting some air and landing on the balls of her feet

Of course, jumping all over a stage for a two hour show, and repeating that night after night if you're on tour can have some pretty serious repercussions. Gaga had to cancel the last leg of her tour last summer while she underwent surgery for a labrial tear to her hip (no doubt exacerbated by her shoe choices which displaces weight to the pelvis), and Mariah Carey sprained her ankle while performing in Singapore in 2010 and had to be carried off stage!   Lately, the ladies (as I like to call my favorite "Divas") have been taking matters into their own hands (or should I say, feet) and trying various solutions.  
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Miley in sneakers and Doc Martins

 
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Kelly Clarkson, barefoot--- a frequent choice for her

 
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Cyndi Lauper, making flats work THEN and NOW

I'm of two minds: low heels allow you to move better, stand more firmly, and quite frankly, sing better, but those very same low heels aren't allows very flattering. They also seem to signal old age ... or demureness ... or bad taste. I don't know… they just seem a little lame.
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Cher and Katy, not exactly helped by their sensible footwear

What do you think? Will we one day view high heels like we view cigarettes? Will they disappear like lead from paint and asbestos from insulation?     highheel warning   And for god's sake, if you have any favorite shoe makers, or favorite shoes, post 'em!!!!       Always with love,

Isabel

One thought on “High heels/Low heels/No heels: How Do The Ladies Do It?”

  1. Cecile Goldthorn     Reply

    Two of my favorites that are so cool but not high heels are: San Miguel shoes from Mexico but some can be found on ebay, next is trippen from Germany recommended by a designer of women’s clothing, Gerald Chen, on etsy at idea2lifestyle. The shoes can be found if you google in trippen shoes, expensive but so wonderful!

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