Spike heels as self-abuse

Kevin Cowherd

September 12, 1990|By Kevin Cowherd

ONE THING about women that puzzles men -- we could go on and on here, but let's stay focused for a moment -- is: Why do women wear such uncomfortable shoes?

Specifically, why do they continue to teeter about in painful high heels when modern science and technology have done so much to eliminate discomfort in our society (the continuing presence of Regis Philbin being an obvious exception)?

Call us out to lunch on this issue, but men don't understand how anyone can be comfortable in high heel shoes. And the truth is, no one IS comfortable wearing high heel shoes.

Oh, there's a woman in my office who claims high heel shoes don't bother her feet. But she's lying. You can tell by the look on her face. Plus when you ask her to cross her heart and say "Hope to die," she won't do it, another dead give-away.

Or else she's being paid off by the powerful women's shoe lobby, which has the kind of clout the NRA used to enjoy before people started whipping out 9mm Beretta's to settle everything from traffic disputes to who took the last drop of milk in the fridge.

Understand, I am not suggesting that women get all dressed up for work or an evening out on the town and walk around in Air Jordans or bowling shoes (although for my money, nothing is more alluring than a woman trying to pick up the 8-10 split. Unless you think that's sick. In which case, I take it back.)

No, women can certainly wear whatever they want on their feet. It's no skin off the nose of us men.

If you women want to lurch about three inches off the ground, feet screaming in agony while you live in mortal fear of sidewalk grates, cobblestone streets, mud, etc., fine. Knock yourselves out.

Just don't come to us later and whine: "Owww! My fee-eet hurt!"

Your feet hurt? YOUR FEET HURT?! OF COURSE YOUR FEET HURT!

How the hell could they not hurt? Me, I'm surprised they're not wheeling you into surgery after six hours in those things.

(This is a true story: I once watched a woman in four-inch heels whip around the dance floor for hours doing the merengue, Latin hustle and other steps too exhausting to list here. They had to carry her to her car when the band stopped playing.

(Granted, the bottle of champagne and six screwdrivers she knocked back didn't help matters. But, still. Her feet had to be killing her, too.)

Perhaps this is a good time to review the trauma suffered by a foot when it is bent into an uncomfortable angle. (This should have been covered in a basic health course back in elementary school, but I suppose it's never too late to learn.)

Now then. Consider the position the foot assumes when placed in a high heel shoe.

The toes rest comfortably on the ground. So far so good. The middle of the foot, however, assumes a hellish position in a sort of pedestrian limbo, neither completely on nor off the ground.

The heel, on the other hand, juts high into the air at an ungodly angle. About six stories high, I make it.

So you see what I'm getting at here.

The foot assumes a strained position common only to someone who is gingerly testing the frigid waters of a mountain lake. Or someone who, at the very last moment, suddenly realizes that he or she is about to step on a bear trap.

In any event, there is no way that the foot -- with its myriad blood vessels, fragile bone structure, tender ligaments and God knows what else (I'm not a doctor) -- can be comfortable in this position.

No wonder the models in the fashion magazines wear those pouty looks. I wouldn't be in such a swell mood myself if you made me stand around for hours in three-inch pumps primping for some hairy-chested photographer named Mario.

Which brings us to the obvious question: If so many women find high heel shoes to be uncomfortable, why do they wear them?

Well, that's a good question. And one that obviously requires a great deal of research to answer.

Of the two women I talked to at the coffee machine, neither gave the sort of thoughtful answer I would have liked.

One woman (not the liar) said: High heels make a woman's legs look better.

The other woman (the liar) said: My boyfriend likes me to wear them.

Oh, terrific. I suppose if her boyfriend liked her to jump off the Empire State Building, she'd do that, too.

Come to think of it, it's probably less painful than wearing heels.

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