Guest Post: Shoes

'High Heels Paris' by Matla Jennifer

by Zenaida

I’ve been feeling the need to get out and meet men, so I started putting myself out there, and my first steps in preparation were to begin updating my wardrobe and dusting off my high heels. I hate them and love them. I normally wear flip flops, Sketchers, or flats. But, when going out or dressing up, I do like to wear heels on occasion.

They fit in the cultural norm of looking “sexy,” and as Wikipedia says, they change myposture requiring more upright carriage and altering the gait in what is considered a seductive fashion, accenting the muscles of my legs and butt, making my legs look longer, feet look smaller, and something I didn’t know, may improve the tone of my pelvic floor. These accessories so apparently associated with phallic symbolism and being sexy were my gateway to be more appealing to the opposite sex.

But, let us remember that Wikipedia also tells us that heels will cause foot pain, increase risk of injury, create foot deformities, decrease the wearer’s stride, and predispose one to knee problems. They are so impractical and even dangerous. I will tell you, though, I’ve had almost overwhelmingly positive responses, though I’ve had one lecture on how they ruin women’s feet, but everyone else has commented on how good I look, and how great my shoes are.

Can I still be a feminist and wear high heels? On the one hand, they seem to empower women by granting them social status and the attention of men and women alike. On the other hand, they seem to trap us into the damsel in distress model of sexuality, waiting for the knight in shining armor to rescue us from spraining an ankle in those 4” stilettos. Maybe if I buy Earth-friendly shoes?

So WHY do I wear them? I really don’t know. I walk in these shoes that look so good, and it noticeably alters the way I walk. Super annoying. I have blisters from where they rub. I paid quite a lot for these shoes, and they’re suede with the layered heel that I like. I wanted to look sexy and expensive. Feels really silly. BUT, they did get me a foot rub…


Caroline has a PhD in religion and studies Mormon women.

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10 Responses

  1. Rosie Riot says:

    I read an article (that I can’t find now) that said that wearing heels wasn’t the main cause of feet problems, but wearing the same kind of shoes too much is the problem. I think being a feminist means you can wear heels…or not. Whichever you like. I think once we start trying to define what feminists are allowed to do, we’re just oppressing each other instead of being oppressed byo thers. I like to wear heels because I think they’re pretty and I like pretty things. Also, I do like what they do to my butt and my legs and my height. I like to look in the mirror and think, “Oh! Nice.” It provides a little personal happiness.

    • spunky says:

      “I think once we start trying to define what feminists are allowed to do, we’re just oppressing each other instead of being oppressed byo thers.”


  2. Caroline says:

    Thanks, Zenaida, for this interesting post.

    I think this post touches on others we’ve had here, like the one on wearing makeup. I tend to not take a hard line on the issue about the ethics of conforming to current standards of physical beauty. I wear makeup, I dye my hair, I wear heels on occasion. Though I am sympathetic to the question that then arises: by conforming, do we make it that much harder for the next woman to not conform? Perhaps we do.

    When it comes to heels for me, personally, I take a moderate approach. I don’t wear them often. Maybe a total of 3 hours a week, if I do at all.

  3. suzann says:

    Keep it rocking! I love that you are embracing your femininity, a most worthy endeavor for a feminist.

    Years ago , Exponent 11 published an entire magazine devoted to sexuality. After reading the magazine, I remember sitting on my bed, repeating the words, “I am a sexual being, and it is good.” Walls, barriers, shame, and embarrassment over sex came tumbling down as I began embracing all of me.


  4. lyn says:

    I love my heels!! Interestingly, the more “feminist” i’ve become, the more I’ve embraced femininity. I work in an office that is business formal (suits for both men and women) and that could be very stodgy, but I love my suits and heels. I used to have only two pair of shoes: one black, one brown and I’d wear them out and buy a new pair. I still don’t have a closet-full (and likely never will), but I’ve been breaking out of my shell and buying more “fun” shoes to wear. Loving ’em!!

    Check out Kenneth Cole’s 925 line — really very comfy and lots of fun, fun styles. I recently bought his “silver fox” pump and wear them with everything.

  5. Marie says:

    I love wearing high heels because they make me feel powerful. They make me tall, have spiky weapons for heels, and when I look awesome I feel confident. I like to wear them to exams and IEP meetings and other places where I mean business.

  6. Alisa says:

    I don’t like heels, mostly because it’s hard to be very mobile in them. Driving with my heels on feels dangerous, and I like to walk a lot during my work day. Last fall I wore these cute 3- or 4-inch heel sandles to a friend’s wedding luncheon four blocks away from where I work. I figured, why drive when it’s only half a mile there, half a mile back? Well, I had to have someone drive me back to work, because in that half mile on high heels my bare feet (they had a toe thing and I couldn’t wear nylons) were totally torn up and bloody. Bad idea. I usually walk four times as much in a work day on purpose (because I have a sedentary desk job and need the exercise). Anyway, I don’t like the immobility of heels. I need to be able to move!

    But as a decoration, they can be fun. As long as decoration isn’t where I’m spending most of my time.

  7. Two of Three says:

    If you like them, wear them. If you don’t like them, don’t wear them. Rosie said it better, but I’m feeling it, too.

  8. alex w. says:

    Ah, shoes. I usually wear flats, partially because I am not particularly graceful, and partially because my boyfriend is the same height as me, which is a very, very convenient excuse even though he doesn’t mind if I’m taller than him. Sometimes heels go better, though.
    I don’t think it’s more feminist to wear one type of shoe or another, and anyone who suggests that it is perhaps needs to examine why they feel that way. (I agree with what Rosie Riot said.) I think if you wear them only for others, it’s no good. But if you wear them because you like them, go for it.
    One last thing: they do NOT have to hurt! No shoe or article of clothing is worth wearing if it hurts.

  9. I struggle to walk (non-awkwardly) in any heels that exceed 2″, so that’s kept me from buying/wearing a vast amount of heels. I really enjoy the ones I have, though.

    While I definitely don’t believe in ascribing a “feminist” or “unfeminist” label based on whether a woman is wearing high heels, I have to say that I’ll occasionally call my own feminist cred into question when I’m wearing heels (or other shoes/clothes that are pretty but bother my body in some way). It feels a tad shameful that I can recognize these beauty standards as arbitrary and sometimes even harmful, yet still abide by them. Heels are an especially interesting case in that they literally affect our ability to move around and the manner in which we move around. I can understand how they give a feeling of power to some women who wear them, but I personally haven’t had that experience.

    As a rule of thumb, I think it’s good for women to prioritize their well-being. If heels contribute to that well-being (or at least don’t detract from it), then grand; if they hurt your feet or your sense of self, just say no.

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