Lora Abernathy: Putting my foot down

By Lora Abernathy

I’ll admit it. I rocked them like a super model and didn’t care about the health of my future 40-year-old self. Yes, through pouring rain or blowing snow, on green grass or sandy beaches, covering a trial or a festival, my high heels have always kept me “up” on things.

I started wearing heels early, probably in junior high, and it wasn’t always a growth spurt that made me taller. The older I got, the higher my heels.

High heels made me feel confident and self-assured, maybe because I knew that every step that didn’t lead to me falling down was a victory. (Find daily multiple wins in the little things, lifestyle and mental health experts will tell you. Check.)

The last couple of years, though, I’ve had to reconsider my position. With back and knee problems worsening, my doctor instructed me to wear flats or a 1-inch heel — if I absolutely had to wear a heel at all.

Say it ain’t so, doc!

I loathe the way I look and walk in flats. I don’t feel feminine, which, feminists will probably say, is a product of brainwashing from a society marketing preconceived notions of femininity. Whatever.

Either way, like any good patient, I listened to half of my doctor’s advice, the half that was most convenient for me, of course. I could not go completely flat, so I bought 3-inch heels instead of 6-inch ones, and easily called my efforts progress.

In the back of my mind, though, I knew he was right, that I had to do better. The trouble is, when you go to the store, there is not much of an in-between point. You either have to buy a super high heel, a high heel or a flat. There are rarely any good barely high heel choices around 1 inch high that aren’t wedges.

With flats coming back in style, I’ve managed to suck it up and buy a few pairs — begrudgingly. I was still in search of the 1-inch heel, however, and I recently ran into some luck. I found a couple pairs in the last few weeks (thank you, Anne Klein, whoever you are), that are about 1 inch high. They give me at least some satisfaction that I’m still in the High Heel Club, while keeping me down to earth in a more healthy position.

I am a big believer in the wonderful power of the free market, in the beauty of supply and demand. I have limited 1-inch heel choices at the shoe store because women are either buying the high heels or the flats — or clogs, which no one should be doing.

High heels are not good for us, for so many reasons. We know it, but we keep wearing them anyway. (Guilty over here!) If we are going to change the culture of shoe shopping, of the health of our feet, we must stop buying the ridiculously high heels. If we stop demanding them, manufacturers will stop supplying them.

So, join me in standing up for your health today by buying shorter heels and forcing shoe makers to take it down a notch. Consider it a win for good health, if that motivates you, or a small victory for feminism, if that pushes your button.

But for goodness’ sake, please stop buying clogs.

Salt Magazine