After observing the collection of shoes this last couple of seasons, one has to ask, “How high is too high?” The phenomenon of 5, 6 or even 7-inch heels with platform soles has taken over the fashion runways, not to mention store displays and subsequently, the workplace. Women love their heels! They seem to be willing to endure any amount of pain to participate in this latest fashion, resulting in windfall business for the medical profession.
One article I read reported that two models for the Prada 2009 spring collection fell on the runway and others were crying because they were so scared. Not only is this humiliating but it can result in a sprained or broken ankle and it’s not limited to runway models. Medical statistics confirm that about 90% of podiatrist’s patients are women and over 90% of foot surgeries are on women with conditions that do not appear in men. My husband just had foot surgery last week (definitely not from wearing high heels!) and the majority of patients awaiting surgery were women.
How did high-heeled shoes come into being? Well, back in 1533, Catherine de Medici was about to be married to the next king of France. She needed something to endear her to the French public so a Florentine artisan fabricated a shoe for her designed with a slender 4” heel, replacing her clunky wooden soles. The new shoes provided an amazing transformation. She suddenly had a more commanding presence as well as an alluring walk. This new style became the rage of French noblewomen, and then spread throughout Europe and ultimately the world. Now, 500 years later, we still love our heels and are going to greater extremes to look powerful and sexy.
One report I read quoted Michael J. Coughlin, a clinical professor of orthopedics, who equated the damage done by high fashioned pumps to that done by binding the feet of Chinese women in times past! Now I have no intention of giving up my high heels but I would like to avoid damaging my feet. One key is to reduce the pressure on the balls of your feet. A 3” heel increases the pressure by 7 times. Most podiatrists recommend no higher than 2” heels. I wear 2 ½” most of the time and limit the number of hours that I wear them, but them I’m a grandmother! In years past, I have worn 3” heels all day, every day but never the extreme heights that are now being worn.
At a business luncheon this week, I met a lady who has developed a line of custom shoes that treat your foot more lovingly. She has six styles, each of which can be made in different fabrics. You can check it out at www.LadyJaneShoes.com to see if this might be an option for you.
As each of you choose your path in wearing high heels, I encourage you to think of all the years you have left to use this means of looking alluring and feminine. My goal is to be like my Aunt Jane who, at 95, was still driving into San Francisco from Palo Alto to have her dressmaker make the latest design she had created. Yes, she was still wearing heels but never the extremely high ones. When she passed away at 100, I sent her very stylish high-heeled boots to a cousin who wore the same size as she. Here’s to projecting feminine power by enjoying our high heels without ruining our feet!