Jezebel tells me that the Wall Street Journal recently ran an article asking “Are High Heels Dead?” The full WSJ article is behind their subscriber paywall, so I can’t tell you anything more about it than appears in Jezebel’s summary.
Look down at your feet. If you’re wearing Crocs or clogs right now, then you win and you’re right on trend. There’s a “low shoe revolution” afoot and it’s all about comfort. According to this Wall Street Journal article, “Are High Heels Dead?” ladies are proudly taking to the streets in their best-worst “unfashionable footwear.”
I honestly can’t tell if the Jezebel staffer is happy, unhappy, or indifferent about this supposed turn of events — she identifies herself as someone interested in comfort, but also comments “there’s no real reason to trash all our favorite pumps.”
What I will say is that I am more skeptical than anything else.
After all, this is the same Wall Street Journal that reported two years ago that the “power flat” was coming into vogue to challenge the prominence of the high heel.* And this is the same Wall Street Journal that just one month ago highlighted a new show at the Brooklyn Museum titled “Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe.” Ultimately, I think the death of the high heel is being reported prematurely. Instead, I anticipate that this is all just another fashion cycle, something popping out of trend that will assuredly return some other day. Face it: if 80’s day-glo can come back, anything can.
I’ll admit that pointing to the Brooklyn Museum show may have a touch of the straw man argument about it. The show, as far as I understand it, is presenting high heels more as an objet d’art or a cultural artifact than anything else. It even contains a short film by Marilyn Minter that the artists describes in the WSJ article as an “anti-glamour piece” — though the discussion of the piece leads to this fascinating exchange that ends the article:
Though Ms. Minter highlights an atypical woman in “Smash,” the artist also moonlights in the fashion industry, having done commercial projects for such designers as Jimmy Choo.
For “Smash,” Ms. Minter maintained that she wasn’t interested in exalting stilettos.
“I would never make something to glorify the heel,” she said.
But does she wear them?
“Absolutely,” Ms. Minter admitted. “I’m a product of the culture. Come to think of it, I’m probably going to have to wear heels to this opening.”
So again, as with the Jezebel staffer there’s this fascinating mix of criticism and complicity in the high heel system. This is one of those things that drives me crazy when I watch the morning news — all the times those GMA anchors joke about wearing their heels from 7 to 9 and then taking them right off as soon as the cameras stop rolling. I just want to scream at the television: then don’t wear them!!
Of course, this is all easy for me to say, from my spot slightly-more-removed from these structures. ‘Cos I actually don’t have any “favorite pumps” at stake in this particular horse race.
I can’t claim any moral superiority around this particular lifestyle choice. You see, I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis back in 2006.
[FAT ACCEPTANCE SIDEBAR: As with every other medical site out there, the Mayo Clinic explanation of plantar fasciitis I linked to has the obligatory fat-shaming language about how “obesity” is a cause of this condition. Just provide one anecdotal counter-narrative, I was actually just about as skinny as I’ve been during the last 20 years when I was diagnosed. In my case, this is definitely a genetic/anatomical anomaly. I inherited Mom’s high arches and her predisposition to problems with the plantar fascia. So there. /FAT ACCEPTANCE SIDEBAR]
And although I did need a cortisone shot during that initial diagnosis phases, I haven’t needed any additional ones in the 8.5 years since — a much better track record than I’ve seen in the progression of Mom’s condition. I chalk part of this difference up to the incredible discipline I have shown to wearing my orthotics. Like every damn day. And you can’t wear anything higher than a 1″ heel with these things. So I purged the high heels from my closet and have pretty much stayed away.
I’d like to think that I would have reached that decision as part of maturing. After all, there’s lots of evidence about how unhealthy these things are:
- American Osteopathic Association
- Science Daily (there’s a couple good selections in the sidebar recommendations too)
- Washington Post
- Women’s Health
But, considering how many high heels I had to purge from my closet at my diagnosis, I can’t be sure. I was 36 then, so one would think I might gotten mature on my own by then…
* WordPress initially autocorrected this to read “high hell.” I almost left it that way.
Image credit: My own iPhone photo of my own feet.