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

Musing Upon Tattoos

January 20, 2010 at 8:01 am | Posted in Writing and Life | 3 Comments
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In my youth (1950s and 1960s Australia) and before, tattoos in western society were mostly associated with sailors. The obligatory anchor and/or capstan on the muscular forearm indicated they had spent their working years on the high seas. The name of a favourite port might be emblazoned on a shoulder. Occasionally, you would see the figure of a woman and sometimes, a name.

Later on, tattoos became a way, along with clothing, of stating a person’s allegiance to a motorbike or other kind of club or gang. The organisation’s emblem, or a derivative of it, was inscribed on the arms and shoulders of many members.

Some people wanted others to see them as both tough and gentle – depending upon the situation I suppose. Words like L-O-V-E and H-A-T-E appeared on the back of hands, one letter for each finger. Some of these were obviously home-made jobs. Not everyone could afford to go to a real tattooist.

However, over the last couple of years, tattoos seem to have spread like a plague, covering arms and legs, torsos and necks all over this country. From what I see on television, it is the same overseas – a veritable pandemic of blue. Male, female, young or old – it seems that no age group is immune. Many teens, and even pre-teens, sport some sort of body decoration. Size doesn’t matter either. Tattoos draw attention to many a fat shoulder, arm or leg as well as to slim and muscular ones.

It was rare for a woman to sport a tattoo until quite recently. If she did, it was usually a discreet butterfly or heart on a shoulder or ankle. It is much more common to see them these days, and on more parts of the body. Tattoos have become just one of a young woman’s fashion accessories – though they can’t change into another one if it doesn’t suit their outfit or the occasion.

Many of those who are using their bodies as an artscape do it whole-heartedly – or should I say, whole-bodily? Often, arms, legs and shoulders have not a centimetre of bare skin left. There is so much ink that the actual design has been lost and it looks like they are wearing a tight-fitting shirt. The tattoo parlours must be raking it in!

It is just another fad, I know. But what starts it off? Why do so many people think that turning their skin blue is attractive? They don’t need to scare off their enemies as the Maoris did, or pass some sort of ritual to belong to a certain caste in society. Or do they see it as something like that?

I wonder what they will think, as their body ages. Will those whose arms and legs have more pigment on them than the Sistine Chapel one day look at their sagging skin and flesh and wish they had exercised a little more forethought?

© Linda Visman 2010

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