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Get down off your high heels

February 10, 2012

I wonder who decided fashion and torture should be interchangeable — probably some man trying to curb his wife’s spending. 
 Every time I pass a college coed balanced precariously on five-inch stilettos, I feel the urge to show her my feet and warn that this is her future. Brace yourself, there is a six-inch model coming out. Is there a college somewhere for girls to learn to walk on these stilts?
 While a vocal segment of our society is occupying Wall Street and whining about capitalism, I’m preparing to picket the shoe manufacturers and demand a recall on high heels everywhere. Like cigarettes, sky-high heels should be forced to carry a warning of serious health consequences. At least they should require a helmet and ski poles.
 I should know. I wore high heels every day of my life for 40 years — the higher the better. I tottered around taking those teeny little steps, bent slightly at the waist in order to maintain my balance. If you knew me back then, you also know that I sat a lot and wore a permanent grimace on my face from the pain of it all.
 About seven years ago it became beyond painful to walk. I went to the orthopedist and he recommended orthotics — to the tune of $400. They helped for a while until my bones became permanently deformed, and my feet are now shaped like the pointy toes of the alligator pumps that were my trademark.
 Last week, the media confirmed that it’s been scientifically proven that high heels are dangerous for women’s feet. Some doctors have compared the wearing of high heels to the feudal Chinese custom of binding the feet to keep them small. This news will certainly help my campaign to stamp out high heels. I’m hoping Uggs and Reebok will come out with a sparkly “dress-up” model to sweep the nation.
 Fashion history notes that heels on shoes were a simple matter of practicality. Mongolian horsemen were among the first to discover that heels would keep their feet from sliding out of their stirrups. The Romans, both men and women, wore platform heels to keep their feet protected from the mud and sludge on the streets. Beyond making us a little taller, why do we wear them today?
 My advice for my younger sisters is to curb the wearing of your stilettos for no more than an hour or two tops. Or you’ll end up like me, sitting here with my little back book which contains only names ending in MD.

Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. She welcomes comments at

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