“I can safely say I understand shoe obsession. But “understand” barely scratches the surface of what I mean to convey. I love shoes, adore shoes, can feel elated by shoes…the many colors, textures, shapes…well, it’s all so intoxicating. But even so, I cannot understand when a woman says she feels “empowered” by a multi-story heel.
My history with heels goes way back. My first heels, which I purchased for myself (along with a black dress) at age 13 shocked my mother and father, who insisted that heels were for women, not for children who could only just call themselves teenagers. But to me, that was exactly the point. As I stood on the edge of womanhood, I knew exactly which shoes would carry me all the way there.
As a young woman, starting her career, I never dreamed of wearing anything but heels to work. Anything else would detract from the grownup image I wanted to project. But that image came with a price. My shoes suffered torn up heels from scrapping in the sidewalk subways vents, numerous scuffs from strangers stomping on my feet, and heels that broke free and were lost forever. But, I too, bore the burden of strutting to and from work in heels with sore feet. Still, I persisted.
Years later, pregnant with my second child, I was finally done it. I raised the white flag and surrendered myself to flatland. And still, while my feet clamored for comfort and practicality, my heart yearned for the heights. I would buy heels, only to watch them languish from disuse at the closet’s bottom. Finally, I trained my eye from looking in their direction while shopping in order to avoid temptation.
And then, once I truly surrendered, the world of flats unfolded to show my its beauties. There was indeed a whole world beyond sneakers and sandals. There were ballet shoes, d’orsay flats, oxfords, boots, loafers, and yes, even sneakers and sandals. I don’t know if I began to look at flats differently or if my openness coincided with a surge in new design, but I was stunned by the array of styles. And that was when I felt “empowered” by a shoe. For the first time, not only would I love a shoe, but a shoe would love me back. For the first time, I could wear something that reflected my mood while allowing me to keep two feet firmly planted. I could go all day without worrying if my feet would start complaining. I did not have to worry about finding a cab or a parking space close enough to where I needed to be. I didn’t need to find a place to sit to get off my feet. I didn’t need to kick off my shoes and then worry about be able to get them back on again. The change had happened. I had become a flat/low heeled devotee.
See? Shoe obsession does not does not demand height. How many oxfords can a woman own? Well, how many colors combinations do they come in? While at one time I needed to look away from the heels, I now gravitated to flats, low chunky heels, wedges and platforms. I was happy. And then it happened. Like being struck by love, out of the blue, without even yearning for it. There they were: 4” heeled d’Orsay monsters, in a deep, dark, inky blue suede, so deep and so lush you could lose your heart and soul by staring into their beauty. And I did. I had to have them.
And so now I find myself like acting like a teenager trying to discover herself. I put on the shoes and practicing walking. I can’t remember needing to practice the first time I wore heels. I’m pretty sure it felt natural. But I guess the decades have shifted and redistributed the load. Also, I’m pretty sure the high heels of the day were not hitting the four inch mark.
And so a new world opens up. Or an old world reopens.