The ever-liberal Washington Post’s lifestyle sections have turned into Code Orange sections of late, their writers revving up the alarm bells about aspects of people’s lifestyles of which they disapprove. In the food section, it’s quadrupal bypass-provoking “trans-fats,” which apparently lurk in your Cheezits and other couch-potato treats. In the health section, it’s the obesity “epidemic” and UV rays. And now, on the fashion page of the Post, it’s high-heeled shoes.
Yes, Post fashion critic Robin Givahn went to the Prada Emporium in New York to look at the newest four-inch-heel fall footwear and came back with….a lecture. Here’s her hector-fest:
“The shoes are bad for a woman’s feet. They can wreak havoc on the knees, the back, the joints. High heels shift a woman’s center of gravity making her more likely to stumble. A woman cannot run in high heels, leaving her vulnerable….
“Is it some curious synaptic misfire in the cerebrum that causes so many women to give form precedence over function?”
Actually you can run in high heels, Robin. I’ve done it many a time at airports. But there’s more:
“The click-click of heels on pavement is the sound of the body taking a beating. Because of the angle of the foot and the spindly heel, each footstep sends a shock wave through the body far more powerful and destructive than if the foot were swaddled in a pair of running shoes with thick rubber soles and a level footbed.”
My word! The article goes on and on, with admiring profiles of some companies that manufacture sensible, low-heeled, round-toed, cushion-soled footwear designed for professional women with long working days. OK, that’s good, I guess.
But you know, I never got around to finishing Givahn’s article because I was distracted by–the Pradas. Dominating the page, dragging my eye like a fridge to a magnet, was a large photo of a gorgeous brown-and-yellow plaid fabric mule with brown lizard trim and a tall, tipsy heel curved like the leg of a Louis Quinze table (click here and enlarge the first photo you see). Smashing with everything from blue jeans to an elegant fall frock. So my thought wasn’t: These are a no-no because they could give my body a beating. It was: Where can I buy ’em?
Ever since Kate Millet and Germaine Greer signed their first book contracts during the late 1960s, radical feminists and their health-haranguist allies have been lecturing us women on the evils of high-heeled shoes. They’re bad for our feet. They’re politically incorrect because they turn us into sex objects. One of the silliest essays I read in the wake of the 9/11 catastrophe noted that many of the women fleeing down the stairs of the World Trade towers to escape death had taken off their high heels to do so. The author confidently–although dead-wrongly, I’m glad to say–predicted that from now on only sensible loafers would do for New York businesswomen.
Look, feminista-gals, we who wear and cherish high-heeled shoes know perfectly well that our footwear of choice has its impractical side. We wear them because, well, they’re pretty and they make us look pretty. A high heel isn’t for running sprints at the Olympics, but on the right occasion–a dinner date, a party–they flatter the female leg marvelously, giving it length and elegance. They’re sexy, and sometimes we actually enjoy being sex objects. So shut up. A few years ago, former New Republic senior editor Karen Lehrman wrote The Lipstick Proviso, in which she wondered why feminists couldn’t wear makeup and slinky skirts. I believe in the Prada Proviso. Leave me alone with my mules.
And here’s a little secret, Robin Givahn. Some of the most comfortable shoes made, ideal for city walking, are those super-sinful Manolo Blahniks. Manolos are alluring as all getout, but most have nicely low heels, albeit curved, and built-in perfect balance despite the needle toes. I’ve splurged on a pair of Manolos every now and then, and I’ve discovered that I can walk all day in them on city streets. The designer-shoe establishment isn’t so bad after all.