As someone with the largest collection of shoes west of Manila, I’ve been vowing to scream if I have to read another finger-wagging newspaper story masquerading as fashion journalism in which podiatrists and others pontificate about the evils to body and mind of wearing high heels. So pardon me — eeeeeoow! The New York Times is at it again — today. First Times reporter Lorraine Kreahling drones:
“High heels can be bad for wearers for several reasons, said Dr. Tzvi Bar-David, a doctor of podiatric medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York.
“An elevated heel lifts the foot out of its natural position and shortens the Achilles’ tendon. Such shoes also pitch the weight of the body forward disproportionately onto the ball of the foot, which in turn upsets the stabilizing mechanics of the foot.
“’High heels have a narrow area of contact and they point the toes downward, which puts the foot in an internally rotated position and makes their wearer more prone to spraining an ankle,’ Dr. Bar-David said.”
Then comes the Freudian/Marxist part of the story in which we learn that we women are brainwashed into forcing our feet into 6-inch, pointy-toed stilettos because of the dictates of the fashion industry, the capitalist establishment, the patriarchy, or whatever:
“In addition, fashionable shoes that try to convert the foot into an ideal form, with the toes narrowed or tapered to a point, often require cramming the foot into less space than it would normally occupy.”
OK, so you decide to ditch the Jimmy Choos and don a pair of comfy flip-flops. Uh-uh, warns Kreahling:
“’Flip-flops are close to horrible for the feet,’ Dr. [Lloyd] Smith [president of the American Podiatric Association] said. ’They are totally flat, soft and squishy, and offer no support and no protection,’ not to mention their penchant for causing accidents by catching on things or inviting being stepped on.”
So what’s a girl supposed to do? Stick to low-heeled, round-toed, cushioned-soled “sensible” footwear, that’s what:
“Medical experts agree that the best shoes for healthy feet mimic the foot’s natural shape, while offering support in the arch and a flexible sole underneath the toes, the way most athletic shoes do.
“’A good shoe has a relatively flat sole and something that fits the heel snugly,’ Dr. Smith said. ’There is lots of room in the toe box for the toes, and the uppers are of soft materials. Ideally laces make the shoe adjustable.’”
It all reminds me of my trips to the dentist as a child. Gray-haired Dr. Engstrom, shaking his head over my cavities, would point to the photographs in his office of his two college-age daughters, pretty blondes both, wearing smiles that revealed double rows of enormous white teeth that glittered as though they had been carved out of blocks of packed snow. “The only sugar I’ve ever let the girls eat is a little canned fruit on Sundays,” he would beam proudly. When the dentistry was done, I would head out the door for a candy bar.
Yeah, yeah, podiatrists and so-called fashion journalists, high-heeled shoes are bad for your feet and for your feminist consciousness. But woman cannot live on sneakers alone. As Kreahling writes:
“Simon Doonan, the creative director of Barneys New York [where the footwear is fab, by the way!], had a simpler explanation for women’s ability to wear the shoes they love.
“’Women have a higher pain threshold,’ he said. ’Men would not do this.’”