Modern Lives Number 209
IN HIGH HEELS
I first put them on I felt fantastic, invincible and very elegant.
In addition, I was tall, confident and assured. Why had I never
worn high heels before? I was like a new person, one who could do
anything. I strode up the road with confidence loving my new look.
This feeling lasted as far as the end of the road and then the pain
kicked in and suddenly things weren't looking so good.
I had to reconsider
where I wanted to go. Walks that I normally would not have thought twice
about became expeditions. I had whole conversations in my head about
whether these walks were really worthwhile. And we're talking two blocks
to the chemist here, not a three mile hike. Could I justify taking a
taxi? And as if the normal pain wasn't enough I quickly reached the
next test - cobblestones. I don't know who these were designed for,
but they are impossible to walk on wearing anything other than trainers.
My ankles were permanently in imminent danger of breaking.
I envisioned them as two twigs which could be snapped at will. Apparently
there are fewer cobbled streets in Glasgow than in Edinburgh because
the authorities lifted them or paved them over to stop the population
throwing them during riots. Edinburgh people being less prone to rioting
the cobbles are still here - unfortunately.
There was more. I couldn't run. Normally I like the feeling that I can
run away from trouble or can jaywalk across a road, doing that funny
little jog thing if a car approaches me too fast. Now I had to wait
for the green man at every set of traffic lights and pray that it wasn't
those stupid ones that expected you to cross the road in five seconds
I got to my meetings. I was fantastic. Knowing that I looked taller
gave me more confidence and I became a new person. I was a success -
until I stepped outside again. By this time the balls of my feet were
on fire. How do other women do this? How do they walk briskly along
the road? I had to saunter at a slow pace whether I was in a hurry or
not. There was no option. For me, high heels come in only one speed
In Glasgow, at the underground, a woman got out of one of the trains
and tried to thump another woman. They had a fight. I hobbled out of
the way. I felt vulnerable. If she decided to attack me I couldn't run
away. Actually never mind running, I could barely stand. If she took
a swipe at me I would have fallen over quicker than a set of ninepins.
I longed for my old comfortable scruffy boots. At least with them I
had a fighting chance.
More meetings, more success. There is little doubt that people do perceive
you differently if you dress smartly (and high heels do fit into that
category) but I'm not so convinced that the hassles that go along with
it make it worthwhile. Or maybe I just need to get used to them. Other
women in my family have long been proponents of high heels. They are
obviously members of some secret society which I will never be invited
to join. They swear that it is only a matter of time before I will find
myself striding confidently (and more importantly, comfortably) down
I went to a graduation ceremony. Normally I would be bored but instead
I found myself looking with renewed interest at the shoes the female
graduates were wearing. Like the graduates they came in all shapes and
sizes but a large majority of them were high. I was impressed. With
my new found lack of confidence there's no way I would be striding across
a stage in heels on one of the most important days of my life, yet they
all managed it. I found that I even walked differently. I walked with
my knees bent. I found it hard to keep a good posture when I was walking.
I had a brilliant one when I was standing but while walking I resembled
a constipated duck with my bottom out and my knees bent.
It made me think about what shoes we wear and when. It is a generational
thing to some extent. My mum has been wearing high heels since she was
fourteen and everyone did in her day. To her, they feel comfortable.
To me they feel like hell on earth, but then she thought my big boots
and trainers were horrible. I suppose we wear the shoes that reflect
how we feel at the time. I remember being told that interviewers always
judge on the state of a candidate's hair and shoes. Despite knowing
this I had always worn flat, comfortable shoes rather than high, stylish
ones and maybe my career (or lack of it to date) has reflected that
choice. I will continue to wear my heels partly because they are a challenge
and also because I like the way they made me feel, but I will definitely
choose when and where with more care. Short walks, no undergrounds and
always in easy reach of a taxi.
© Hazel Marshall 2001
Now for some
healthy advice about wearing high heels shoes
More real lives in Lifestyles
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