Friday, November 4, 2011

Fashion - Shoes

I've had an interest in fashion, as art, for as long as I can remember. When I was in my late 30's and early 40's I took time off from working as a lawyer so I could spend more time with my daughter. One of the things I did to earn a living during this time was to make and sell dolls, and one of my favorite parts of doll-making was designing the costumes. The dolls were from various periods in history. I gave each one a name and wrote a short biography to go with him or her. Most of the dolls had accessories -- for example, a Celtic woman from Gallia Narbonensis, before the Roman Gallic wars, had a basket made of reeds, and a wooden walking stick.

Anyhow, I loved studying the history of fashion and doing my best to capture the old styles for the dolls, and I love looking at fashion magazines such as Vogue and W, but my desire to be comfortable has always limited my ability to dress myself stylishly. 

One major fashion-fail has been my refusal to wear high heeled shoes. When I was young, I considered my feet to be one of my most beautiful features. They were strong, sturdy feet with excellent arches and lovely smooth skin. I went barefoot or wore sandals whenever I could. I remember seeing my mother's feet when I was a kid -- they were wrecked from wearing high heeled shoes -- she had horrible sores on her heels, and corns on her toes, and her toes were all squished together. They were quite disturbing to me, my mother's feet -- she was a young woman at the time, too. Although I don't recall consciously thinking of my mother's feet when I bought shoes as a young woman, I surely must have been at least somewhat influenced by my negative reaction to them. 

The current shoe fashions are disheartening. Despite the generally available knowledge that high heeled shoes can cause permanent damage to the feet, knees, hips, and spine -- not to mention the danger of falling; despite the horrible pain of trying to walk with one's feet in such unnatural positions, women seem to love to wear them. Some people say it can be explained by each woman's need to compete with other women for the attention of men. High heels make women's legs look longer, make their busts and butts protrude -- in general emphasize their female sexuality. But I don't think that's the whole of it. Women also judge each other according to clothing choices. I was amazed at some of the vicious comments I saw on the
Corporette website -- women making disparaging comments about other women who wear ... shudder ... panty hose that are darker than their skin tone, or who make other equally unfashionable choices. 

The thing that really depresses me, though, is that wearing high heels seems to be almost as mandatory as foot binding was in China during the period when women without severely deformed "lotus" feet were considered unworthy as wives, and thus pretty much unworthy as humans. Women in most "developed" countries these days have choices other than marriage. But it appears that one's career choices may be limited if one decides to forego wearing high heeled shoes in favor of having a healthy musculo-skeletal system. Being able to wear high heeled shoes is so important to women that they are willing to undergo surgery to adapt their feet to the shoes. See Plastic Surgery - Are Feet the New Nose? 

There are a few notes of encouragement out there, though.
Gisele Bundchen refused to wear ultra-high heels on the runway. Referring to women injuring themselve with high heels, Maria Cornejo said, "That’s just sad, you know? It’s boys dressing women. I’m sorry — they don’t have to wear the **** shoes. It’s quite abusive. Because, you know what? We have to run around and walk, and nobody has a chauffeur waiting for them outside. And it really pisses me off and makes me really angry because it’s that boys thing about making women into victims. You know, it’s not nice."  See Maria Cornejo Rebels Against High Heels at the New York Fashion Week

A Detroit lawfirm was sued by a secretary who was required to wear high heels to work and injured her back as a result. The firm settled with the plaintiff (Denise Fitzhenry v Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn).

I read somewhere online that not wearing high heels in the courtroom can be detrimental to the careers of female lawyers, I've done fine in my own practice wearing low heeled shoes. In fact, not only do I wear low heels, I wear comfortable low heels, such as Danskos and Clarks and Merrells. But who knows? Maybe I would have done even better if I'd been willing to bear the pain and damage my feet.

I think it was George Bernard Shaw who made the comment, "If a woman rebels against high heels, she should do so in a very smart hat." That's probably a valid observation. To get away with wearing low heels, I must take care to stay slim and muscular as long as I can, and try to wear very smart clothing. Unfortunately, I have no sense of fashion or style when it comes to dressing myself. But perhaps these things can be learned ...
P.S. My feet are still in pretty good shape, considering they're 62 years old. They can walk for miles without faltering. My legs are OK too, except for the scars where I was mauled by two pit bulls one day while I was out walking. 

Speaking of dogs, as I did to my husband a few minutes ago, here is a limerick he composed on the spot, about a blogging dog:
There was a young girl with a dog
Who wrote on cuisine for his blog.
He enjoyed steak tartare
Or a plate of jugged hare
And then buried his snout in her grog.

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