For years, I always gravitated towards heels. As someone who is barely 5’4, heels made the world seem brighter — and made me able to reach the higher shelves at work.
I loved heels since I knew how to walk in them in high school. One of my favourite compliments is from a great-aunt who said that I walked well in heels. It made me feel like I had accomplished something other women couldn’t master; people would ask how I could walk in heels without falling over, or hurting themselves. I would smugly joke that I’d just put one foot in front of the other, which was all I was really doing, anyways. Walking in a pair of heels isn’t the atrocity to me like it is to most women, and before my 30s I used to find them comfortable and preferred heels over flats, which hurt my feet. Standing all day, working at a shoe store, of course, in heels didn’t bother me — much. Standing all day in flats? Just as, or a little more, painful.
I’d ooh and aahh over the heels I would never be able to afford. You know the ones: Manolos, Louboutins, Jimmy Choo. I, with my 16-year old naive brain, vowed that I would be wearing at least one of these brand’s shoes by my 30s. Spoiler: I’m 32 and I own none of those and have no plans of buying them anytime soon. I’ve now moved onto lusting over some nice Tod’s. Another shoe I’ll, most likely, never be able to afford.
As I grew up, my rules around footwear became more specific. I refused to wear anything but heels to the bar, stating that I looked like a frumpy mess in flats or converse-style shoes. I’d walk (walk!) to the bar in my heels, dance for hours, then walk (seriously, did I even care about my feet?) home, only to take them off once inside the apartment. Sure, sitting down for a pee felt amazing not just because there’s something so wonderful about peeing while you’re incredibly intoxicated, but because I wouldn’t be standing. When you’re drunk, all thoughts of hovering over a dirty toilet go out the window. I wore ‘comfortable’ heels that would get me through the night, you know, 3–4 inches plus a platform. I must say, the platform does help out a little bit. Although, I don’t think I could make it across my living room in those heels that I now use as bookends.
When I first started my office job, there was no way I was going to go there in anything other than heels. Heels were for business women, powerful females who wore beautiful outfits and commanded a room. Flats were for the lower-downs, the ones who had to walk more often, delivering mail or messages. For the longest time, people thought I was at least 5’6 as I was never seen without heels. Once I started mixing in some flats, the jig was up and I couldn’t pretend I was tall-ish. I climbed the stairs to the office, doing my best to stay skinny and lose weight that I didn’t need to lose in the first place, in my heels, thinking that I was stronger. Besides, what loser would climb the stairs in runners and change into heels at her desk? What — did I think I was on a sitcom?
Fast forward a few years and I’ve still that lovely obsession with heels. They’re just so sleek, gorgeous, absolutely stunning. If only an inch or two tall, they make my feet feel good. They give me the boost of confidence needed to get things done, they still give me that powerful feeling. I’ve stopped wearing my 4-inch heels, mainly because I don’t go out to bars anymore and I’m not a stripper, but I still can’t move as fast as I can in runners, or even flats, even with a short heel. Obviously. Now, instead of shelves of heels gracing my closet, there’s a mix of loafers, oxfords, flats, and adorable runners that are appropriate for work. The shelf of heels grows smaller and smaller every year as I purpose more shoes that give me comfort.
I had always thought I’d wear heels to my wedding; even going so far as to buying a pair of gorgeous pink suede heels with a delicate gold design on the heel. But, they felt too high, too uncomfortable, too much to be wearing for the whole night. Besides, my dress would have to be altered to the length, and then what would happen if I took the heels off? Tripping over my dress at my own wedding was not on the list of things I wanted. Instead, I opted for flat mules: Badgley Mischka, brocade, and covered in jewels, of course, but flats nonetheless.
I still love their design, I still gravitate towards them in any store, yet my feet are sick of being at an angle. My knees are tired of being worn down by tiny stilts attached to my feet. I want comfort, I want support. I’ve stopped caring that I’m a short woman. So what if heels make me seem slimmer? If I’m uncomfortable for most of the day, is that worth it? I’ve finally realized that it isn’t. I don’t think I’ll ever fully break up with my heels, but we are definitely on a break. Just the kind that has you dialing their number at 2:00am, looking for that fix only your ex can scratch.