Precarious posture in pretty pair of painful pumps • Cathy Best, Lifestyle Columnist
Walking through shoe departments, or scanning the latest fashion magazines, makes you keenly aware that stilettos have stepped into no-woman’s-land.
Unnaturally high heels and the inability to walk steady, coupled with the pain women experience wearing them, can be compared to foot binding; like tiny lotus shaped feet, one cannot walk fast or purposefully, much less run, in stilettos.
The binding of young girls feet became desirable in “court circles,” where bound feet and lack of mobility kept women dependent on their husbands and servants, and spread to wealthy Chinese who adopted the practice. The custom moved from the city to the outlying country, where young girls realized that binding their feet could be a passport to social mobility and increased wealth.” Hmmmm, is it me, or does this all sound just a tad sinister? You have to wonder if today’s shoe designers are decedents of Li Yu who ruled the region in China from 961-975 A.D. where foot binding was said to have originated?
There are reasonable motives to don a pretty pair of heels. Stacy and Clinton, hosts of TLC’s What Not to Wear, sight heel height as giving the desirable illusion of long legs and sex appeal. Understanding that an unsteady wobbly gait diminishes the desirable effect of faux long legs, and sex appeal, Stacy and Clinton recommend a practical heel height that looks good but allows you to run from the enemy.
Having long legs, I need not pretend with faux ones; heels are somewhat optional for me. Even so, I want to wear a painful pair of pretty 4-inch heels and dance for hours at parties like Carrie Bradshaw, I really do. But I can’t, it cripples me for the next two days and even tennis shoes won’t ease the inflammation. Without knowing it, I may be protecting my health by two-steppin in my cowboy boots.
According to Dr. David B. Agus, author of The End of Illness, recently featured on ABC News, "Aching feet means inflammation. Inflammation in the long term is bad for heart disease, for cancer, for neural degenerative diseases. We want to prevent inflammation," Agus said, calling heels and platform pumps "hidden, sneaky sources of chronic inflammation." Angus has skeptics; "Chronic inflammation can affect the heart. It can lead to an increase of C-reactive protein that is associated with heart disease, but this isn't necessarily caused by wearing high heels," said Dr. Robert Schwartz. "High heels definitely pose more of an issue with the musculosketal system," said Dr. Sharon Bergquist. “The idea that uncomfortable shoes could lead to problems beyond strained muscles and joints is a controversial one;” one that warrants further study.
It may seem that I’ve taken a rather negative stand on high heels, but that’s not entirely true. Sometimes, to complete the ensemble, you have to bite the aspirin and don the Jimmy Choo’s, ankle brace to boot.
Best of the Best
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See, “is about two Chinese girls who are destined to be friends; the book is based upon the sacrifices women make to be married; it also includes the two girls being forced into getting their feet bound.”
The End of Illness, by Dr. David B. Agus
TV Show: TLC, What Not to Wear, Thursdays at 10 p.m.
Comfortable Shoes: Barkin’ Dogs Shoe Co., 172-A South Main Street, Madison
Cathy Best discovers new things daily.
Contact her to share local resources, books, blogs, Web sites and apps you’ve discovered: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Printed in the December 13, 2012 edition