Well Heeled

October 12, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Culture, Health, History, Psychology, Society | 9 Comments
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Sexy high heels

My mother wore high heels. After all, she was a product of the 1920s and 30s when they became popular. If a woman dressed up – and a working woman only dressed up when she were going somewhere special – she would wear high heels, and stockings if she could get them.

High heels were said to elongate the legs and make them more attractive, and who didn’t want to be attractive! Mum wasn’t tall –just five feet, and Dad was half an inch under six feet so, for her, the higher the heels the better.

Mum loved dancing and, in their courting days and after their marriage in 1941, when he was home on leave from the R.A.F. (it was wartime), Dad took her out to every dance in the district, where they danced up a storm. Dad often said that they would be the last dancers on the floor and the band would beg them to stop so they could rest. How on earth, I have often wondered, did Mum dance, and for so long, in high heels. But she only wore heels for special occasions, and that was not even once a week.

1930s heels

I only wore heels for a short time, and then not very high ones. I started about 18, but stopped at 21when I was expecting the first of my five children. I found ‘flatties’ to be much more comfortable for carrying babies around.

Over the decades, I have noted the continuing attraction for wearing high heel, especially by younger women. The ante has been upped (literally) even higher since I was young. Not only have the heels got higher, but the weight of the shoes has also increased. I don’t think Mum would have been able to drag herself around in what young women wear today, let alone dance at top speed for hours in them!

Platform shoes

About thirty years ago, the medical fraternity finally realised that wearing high heels, especially frequently and for prolonged periods, could cause quite serious problems. This can be as simple as falling and injuring oneself while wearing them, resulting in strained or broken ankles. However, more serious long-term damage can be caused by the habit of wearing high heels.

Posture changes inherent in wearing shoes that place the heels above the toes can result in considerable damage:

    • Hips, shoulders, back and spine are thrown out of alignment;
    • Muscle spasms can occur due to the extra pressure caused by posture changes;
    • Increased pressure on the knees often leads to arthritis in that joint;
    • muscles in the calf become shortened, leading to pain there and in the feet;
    • the Achilles tendon can become permanently shortened, leading to tendonitis;
    • toes, cramped into tight shoes, become misshapen and cannot be straightened even when wearing flat shoes..

This 3-D scan shows up some of the problems. Here’s a set of pictures that gives a good indication.

High heel damage

I have often wondered why women are willing to risk such injuries just for the sake of fashion or of looking sexy. But I suppose that is just the way of it; peer pressure; advertising pressure; a desire to have the latest in fashion. There is no desire to look to the future – just as is the case with young men and their testosterone-induced risk taking. The belief that ‘it will never happen to me’.

Oh how glad I am that I never became a slave to fashion. I’ll stick to my sensible shoes, thanks.

Sensible shoes

What do you think of high heels? Would you let your adolescents – as I have seen – wear them and risk permanent damage?

Young girl in heels

(c) Linda Visman

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9 Comments »

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  1. You got me thinking,Linda. My wife Jane used to wear high heels, but doesn’t any more, only on some very rare occasions. I remember the first time I took her out she wore these high heels. I couldn’t stop looking at her legs. My Mom and Dad used to dance in ballroom competitions and we often went with them to these competitions. I remember my Mom dancing in high heels and I always wondered how she did it.No doubt, high heels certainly do something for a woman’s legs, but as you say, at some cost. 🙂

    • I think men don’t really consider what pressure they put on women to look sexy – which is the basis of fashion. And many women don’t realise what wearing them will do to their legs, feet, hips, back, etc.
      I am always amazed at how women can do what they do in high heels too!

  2. I have never worn high heels, Linda. I’m tall, so I don’t want extra height, but irrespective, I can see how damaging they must be. The abnormal posture that they create must cause strain and be most uncomfortable. Good on you for wearing sensible shoes. 🙂

    • My older sister is a bit taller than her husband, so she never wore high heels either, just mid height.
      I must also admit that I have always been rather a tomboy, and prefer jeans and sneakers to skirts and heels :-).
      Thanks, Margaret, for calling in and commenting.

      • My pleasure, Linda 🙂 By the way, I went to a dance last night, and the high, narrow heels I saw were amazing. They must be very hard to dance in 🙂

  3. I wear heels all the time. I have never developed an issue. I always say the shoes must fit correctly. Heels, or flats; poor fitting shoes are going to cause issues. 😉

    • You are indeed fortunate in your selection of footwear, H.E. 🙂 Too many others must go for shoes that are inappropriate. Hope you continue to be hassle-free. 🙂

  4. Yes, Linda, I remember the good/bad old days, back in the 60’s, tottering around on high heels until, halfway through the day, blisters would inevitably reduce me to walking about in stockinged feet. As I got older and wiser the heels got lower until now I rarely wear anything other than gym shoes on my only slightly misshapen feet.


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