I never wear heels. I mean, never. They are banned from my wardrobe. No big deal, right?
Turns out that there is this underlying cultural norm that we American women are taught from a very young age: heels are empowering. Want to look good? Wear your heels. Want to look professional? Wear your best heels. Want to snag a fabulous husband? Better head out in your super high heels.
Never mind you can barely walk by the end of the day/night and the next day your feet feel like they were just ran over by a FedEx truck.
So you tell me, what about this empowers women? Nothing!
Here’s a nice list of the wonderful atrocities that heels do to our bodies:
- shorten calf muscles changing the anatomy of calf muscles and tendons,
- cause circulation blockage killing foot bones,
- create bunions, hammertoes, and nerve damage like my friend, the neuroma,
- result in long term back and knee damage,
- foster bony protrusions known as “pump bump,” from straps of high heels digging into the tissue around the Achilles tendon.
Thanks to my love for high heels, I developed an extremely painful Morton’s Neuroma, that can only be described as feeling like there is a marble in your sock and you are walking on needles. Sounds fun, eh?
We tried to treat it conservatively with steroid injections (also fun), but after two years, it was clear that it was getting worse. I could barely walk in sneakers. I couldn’t do my favorite activities like running and walking my dogs.
I decided to have surgery to remove the inflamed nerve from my foot. The surgery was a success and you can barely even see the scar, but nerves are tricky. I had an excruciating year-long recovery because the nerves in my foot were not so happy to part ways with their inflamed friend. I regretted ever having worn heels and still couldn’t do the things I loved to do. I would have given anything to have my life back.
I struggled with wearing flats to work and with dresses. I felt ugly and frumpy. Certainly I felt like a midget next to my husband who is 11 inches taller than me. None of my pants fit any more because they were all tailored to my 3 inch beauties lined up in my closet.
Perhaps the all time low was having to wear athletic sneakers with my work pants for the first four months after surgery. One of my clients, who is like that funny grandpa kind of guy, said to me,
“You look like a dork. Don’t come back until you can wear some decent shoes.”
Ouch. Thankfully, I think he was joking. Or was he?
I got to thinking: Why is wearing flats so hard?
Logically, wearing flats makes sense. My feet feel great at the end of the day and I can walk home every night we go out with friends without wincing every step to the metro. Intuitively, it was a battle. I wish that it was an easier journey.
At some point, it became clear to me that pain-free feet were way more important than wearing killer heels. (Pun intended.) I didn’t realize until I couldn’t wear them, that heels were a big part of my self-image. I felt confident and pretty in heels. Changing this thinking required a paradigm shift in my own vision of myself, what made me feel good, and my general self-image.
Fast forward to two years later. Oh how things have changed.
You’ll never catch me in a pair of heels and you won’t catch me crying in the corner about it either.
I am finally living pain free, and there is no heel in the world I would risk that on.
You’ll find me in the flat aisle at DSW and The Walking Store now- scoping out all the cutest flats and seeing if my orthotics fit in them. That’s right ladies- it’s not just little old biddies like Betty White wearing orthotics these days! I have multiple pairs of Dansko shoes I affectionately call, “the worlds ugliest shoes.” They are looking less ugly to me these days- amazing what a little comfort can do for perception.
My feet are comfortable, pain-free, and I feel the best I have ever felt. I can go running, hiking, walk my dogs, you name it. At work, I don’t need heels to walk into a room and know I’m going to nail a client presentation. All I need is 5 foot 2 inches of Liz-ness. Life is good. Crazy to think that 2 years ago I thought I needed 3 inch heels to feel confident, pretty and professional.
The key takeaway is this:
Self perception is one of the most powerful tools that we have in becoming who we want to be. Self perception impacts you and it impacts the way others see you. Heels don’t define you. You do.
I ask you: what is impacting your self-image these days?
This is the upgraded Liz 2.0 and she’s just getting started. I challenge you to find your inner awesomeness do the same.
- Women think high-heels, red lipstick “inappropriate” after 59 (highfashionaveragewoman.com)
- High heels can mess your feet up, you know. (fruitybeauty.typepad.com)
- More Women Are Literally Chopping Off Their Pinky Toes to Fit Into High Heels (jezebel.com)
- Leave Your Heels at Home – These Flats Are Holiday-Party-Ready (fabsugar.com)
- High Heel Problems and How to Prevent Them (dangerouslee.biz)
- The Danger In Wearing High Heels (stlouis.cbslocal.com)
- Weekend Observations: Will this Addiction Ever Cease? (beautyskew.com)
- ‘Stiletto Surgery’ alters pinky toe for better fit (foxnews.com)