I am not sure when it happened.
It might have been one of the countless times I was having a horrible time out at night because my feet hurt.
Or perhaps, one of those other times I was grouchy and ready to leave early because standing /walking/dancing all day or night in high heel shoes, was the ABSOLUTE worst.
Or it might have been the many times I caught myself staring hard at the heels of a shoe I was about to wear, wondering to myself why again I was about to put feet through torture.
Maybe it was routinely watching packs of women struggle to walk in high heels, give up, and just walk bare-feet outside to get to their location.
Somewhere amidst those moments of observation, personal practicality emerged.
I pride myself on being a person dedicated to ignoring society’s dictates in favor of my wants/needs. To my chagrin, it dawned on me that despite always complaining about my feet hurting from wearing high heels, I never budged from it, it had become oddly my obligation.
Let me further explain, I am a fashion girl. In the past, I was a fashion blogger and so my love for clothes goes hand in hand with my love for a good pair of high heeled shoes. I think of shoes, I lust for shoes and I save shoes in carts I will never checkout.
Unfortunately that stopped starting to matter when my perspective shifted in favor of my fucking tired feet.
Once this thought took root in my mind, I couldn’t remember why I was so insistent on punishing my feet? The only reason I kept returning to, was that it made me look good, and it made my outfit work. It also made my legs look longer, and did I already say it made me look good?
Looking good was so important to me that I would put my feet through intolerable pain, and be at a discomfort. I looked good, but I sat down all through the night because dancing hurt too much, so walking definitely hurt too much.
I looked good but what did that really matter, if I wasn’t enjoying myself?
So i decided to take heed to my body’s demands and bravely face life as a woman who chose practicality over beauty.. *ahem*.. in the case of footwear. The beauty is pain quote is almost a daily mantra to women who enjoy looking good. And before you roll your eyes, looking good is a form of therapy for some.
It was surprisingly easy to embrace my new footwear philosophy. What I found interesting was how much more difficult it was for people around me to do the same.
“Are you going to wear …that?”
“Doreen, I know you are doing this new thing with no heels, but your outfit would look SO MUCH BETTER with heels.”
“Oh you are serious about coming out in sandals, oh okay cool cool”
“Aren’t you going to change your shoes before we leave?”
I simply wanted to be comfortable, yet it felt like I was being almost..unreasonable, in choosing to prioritize my comfort over my fucking choice of foot wear.
I started to realize that somewhere along the line, just as with everything else pertaining to women, wearing high heeled shoes had become a rite of passage that every woman was expected to embrace and perform.
It became even clearer when I realized how difficult it was to find formal practical footwear for more cocktail attire.
I found myself in so many instances where heels seemed to be the only acceptable shoe option.
Are you going to tell your friend getting married that you don’t wear high heels, when she has envisioned how she wants her wedding party to look?
I sure as hell can’t, and I am at a place where I am totally fine with that.
I understand that in some instances for the sake of the enforced dresscode , I will break out a pair of gorgeous pinching detachable spikes, attach them to my feet, and proceed to walk, dance, and act like I am walking on air.
But I now simply see it as just another man-made construct added to my list of norms I discard after deep scrutiny, understanding and acceptance that it does not actually serve me.
My feminism believes that women should be free to define their own way of living. So to my sistas out there who knows how to work a pair, please continue to shine! Walk into the fucking room like you own the place!
This is not a criticism of your choices, but an acceptance of mine.
Everything pertaining to women must be steeped in personal choice, including, footwear.
Words by Doreen Caven