Maybe it’s age or just a nugget of wisdom finally smacking me in the head, but I can say with confidence most “dressy” shoes for women have become more painful than ever. And yet, we keep buying these things. Why?
A flurry of special occasions launched me on a recent multi-retailer shoe hunt. As social/fashion norms dictate, if one is under age 80 and does not have any physical barrier, some kind of heel completes the look. This can range from the low “kitten” to the soaring “stiletto.”
To translate that, a woman who prefers contemporary styles may choose from balancing her entire body on a narrow “darling” 2-inch pencil stub to a freshly sharpened “rockin’” 5-incher. And even if the heel is kitty-cat low it will still be pinky thin and there will likely be a killer pointy tip on the other end of the shoe. The same is true for the rare, dressy flat or the higher up wedges.
The human foot is not shaped like a sharp arrow, but this is where we are. Even the open toe loophole still manages to cut off circulation at the edge where our pedicures meet daylight.
No matter the design, for the sake of “beauty” we contort our feet, ankles and calves after just minutes of walking, standing, dancing and grimacing.
But the thing that kills me most about any category of the dressy shoe, aside from blisters and confused tendons, is somehow we’ve conditioned ourselves to accept so many un-walkable styles. We try to float across rooms but sometimes default to a hint of the Frankenstein shuffle. We rationalize our footwear to the point of temporary discomfort or worse.
On a recent shopping trip, I was shocked by my inner dialogue:
“I need to find the least painful shoes.”
Not kidding. That’s exactly what I was thinking.
Not the most comfortable shoes, but the least painful ones.
I ended up with a pair that looked acceptable and didn’t seem to squeeze as much as others. They seemed OK-ish with slight pressure by the big toe, which was my golden standard. However, the heels lasted about an hour until my nervous system reminded me the discomfort in my feet overpowered the torso Spanx squeeze and the itchy new eyeshadow and the awkward conversations.
As voices from the outside world complimented my “snazzy” footwear, my internal synapses were all telling me, “You’re an idiot.”
And here’s the plot twist, as opposed to the expected ankle twist. It’s the part where I turn even a little darker. Because, it seems, dark is “in” right now.
Buying stupid shoes is a frivolous topic. I say this in a nod to the month I find myself writing to elected officials about recent horrific events. And in a nod to Amy Poehler, who couldn’t exactly answer a lighthearted magazine questionnaire. Her responses to the skippy-dippy questions went along the lines of, “Who cares, the world is on fire.” And, “A whale just died in Thailand after eating 80 plastic bags.”
So yes, a backfired quest at Designer Shoe Warehouse is indeed a mundane problem. But also a vague reminder that the way something feels when you first “try it on” often provides big clues of what’s to come.
This includes not only the things we purchase or the activities we pursue, but especially the people we associate with or (by circumstance) must entrust to, say, run things. If something is off kilter at the starting line, it usually remains that way and can often get worse.
Choosing anything or anybody wisely and honestly, without rationalizing away the warning signs, is a step in the right direction.
We don’t always have to buy the shoes.
Reach Denise Snodell at email@example.com or on Twitter @DeniseSnodell