Thursday, April 29, 2010

The "Up" Side of Heels

This month I have mostly been posting anti-heel writing, mainly to make myself feel more comfortable with the sacrifice.  Recently, I surveyed a few tall girlfriends that love to wear heels.  One mentioned that she could not go an entire month without wearing heels.  When I asked why, she replied, "At a really young age my mom engrained in my head that heels made my legs look longer and more beautiful, so I started to wear them in 6th grade. By college I started to pretty much wear them full time. I think I only own (outside of my tennis shoes and uggs) two pairs of flats, and I own about 50 pairs of shoes at least......"  She mentioned that shoes can make an outfit and that heels make the look more sexy.  I have to agree.  I love the way heels make my legs look and the way they make me, feminine and sophisticated.  Growing up, most women tried on their mother's heels and clomped around the house.  Learning to walk in heels is a rite of passage into womanhood.

Two friends described the ability to wear heels as almost a "right," and are looking for guys that fit into their current "tall" lifestyle.  One girlfriend wrote, "I love wearing heels, I feel weird out without them on. I used to be self conscious until I came to the realization in college that I should be able to wear the same shoes as everyone else...In dating, I think it (my height) can be a disadvantage, only because it limits the odds of finding someone who is okay with someone who is 5'10" and wears heels out. I am also on the shyer side, which can add to the "standoffish" and imtimidating factor."  While researching, I came across an article called, Why Tall Women Should Wear Heels. It declares, "If you're six feet, then you have a God-given right and Constitutional right to wear high heels; do not let other people take away your rights to feel feminine and stand tall and proud."  My same yoga teacher that discourages me to wear high heels, encourages tall women to stand up straight and "be tall and beautiful."  The effects of slouching may be worse than the effects of wearing high heels.  The message is the same no matter your height: stand up straight and be your beautiful self.

The truth is that heels are part of our culture.  They are accepted and often expected in many situations.  As I continue along this month's experiment, I learn more and more about their impact on our lives.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Heels and Health

Do high heels affect our overall health?  My yoga teacher mentioned the added pressure on our knees and backs, thus affecting our alignment and posture.  Wearing heels does provide an appealing booty-lift, but that comes with an exaggerated lower back curve.  She told me, "I was cute enough without the heels," and that made a big impact on me.  Seeing a role model give up heels and embrace a more grounded stance definitely inspires me.  I'm seeing that you can absolutely be sexy and appealing without the high heels.
One article states that "high heels can contribute to the development of a variety of conditions from corns and calluses to hammertoes, arthritis, chronic knee pain, sprained ankles and back problems."

Brenden Brown is a podiatrist who sees about 500 women every year with problems caused by wearing heels.  He says that damage can be inflicted by high heels over a period of one day or 40 years. Each person is different and the effects of wearing heels will differ on everybody.

He says the reason high heel wearers suffer back pain is your body's centre of gravity is thrust forward. High heels cause the forefoot to overwhelm the joints and the toes. Osteoarthritis can also be caused by high heels because the soft tissue overcompensates when under strain. For more on that article check out:

Additionally, the cost of heels goes beyond the cash register.  One study states that "the damage done to women’s feet from wearing high heels has been estimated to cost the National Health Service a huge £29 million a year in treatment -which included removing bunions and straightening toes."  When it comes to food, alcohol, caffeine,'s interesting how we pay money to hurt ourselves.

As predicted, this month has been an easy challenge.  Last weekend I went on a trip and only packed flat shoes and boots.  With limited options, the heel temptation was completely removed.  The truth is that heels are not all that seductive to me anyway.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our Obsession with Height

After some initial research, I've found a few interesting articles and resources about height.  On an eharmony dating discussion wall, one man asks why American women are so obsessed with height.  I particularly enjoyed one man's analysis of the phrase, "tall, dark and handsome," and what that really means to women.  No women responded to the question.  Check out the responses:

I also found an average height calculator.  It turns out that at 5' 3" I am 3.5 centimeters below the average height for a Caucasion woman.  That number surprises me because no one wants to think of themselves as "below" on any type of test.  It makes me wonder if that's an international average or American average.  Hmmmm.  Since I just realized that this same site has an average penis size and girth calculator, now I don't feel so bad.

This enlightening article tells me that I make less money and have fewer dates than my taller counterparts.  It also says I have a higher risk of suffering from dementia.  What the heck?  It does shine one tiny ray of hope for us smaller women.  We have a lower risk of hip fractures.  Why?....less distance to fall.  Oh geez.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Clear Vision

This experiment is different from previous months in one crucial way.  I only have to make a shoe-based decision once (maybe twice) a day.  Additionally, alcohol is never involved in that decision.  Don't get me wrong, I have dressed-drunk in my life...but these days that's a less common occurrence.  Therefore, I have a much higher likelihood of succeeding this month with no slip-ups.  That's an exciting thought since I haven't had a 100% success rate yet.  Unlike food or drink decisions that happen many times a day under a variety of circumstances, getting dressed happens much less often and in only limited places.  The evidence will be on my feet and available for all to see.  That extra accountability is motivating.  Yes, this will be the month of experiment victory!

Give an Inch

At the beginning of each experiment, I have to outline the rules.  It has become clear that completely flat shoes are rare.  Therefore, I am allowing shoes with a one-inch heel or less.  Even my "flat" leather boots have a tiny little wedge.  The shoes I wore on Friday had a teensy kitten heel.  For my male (or fashion-unconscious) readers, that looks like this...
It felt pretty good to wear flat shoes all night.  I walked, stood and danced the night away with no feet or back pain.  In a way, it also felt honest.  Honest about who I really am.  All 5 feet 3 inches of me.  As women, we have all kinds of little tricks to enhance our appearances.  Whether it's the hair highlights or extensions, make-up, fake eyelashes, slimming clothes tactics, teeth whitening or more invasive beauty techniques, we usually try to present our best face by whatever means necessary.  There's nothing wrong with these beauty choices, but they do sometimes feel like tricks.  We withhold or diminish the person beneath the fa├žade.  Only a handful of people get to see us with the trickster shell removed.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Month 4: No High Heels

From April 12- May 11th, I will be sporting only flat shoes.  This may sound trivial, but I'm curious to see how this small change affects my life.  As a woman, high heels are a symbol of femininity, elegance and sex appeal.  To "lower myself" to flats will take away one aspect of being a woman.

I suspect that this month I will question aspects of gender identity and expression.  There are so many ways to be a woman, I'm eager to explore my own constructs.

My first challenge will be this Friday.  I'm celebrating my birthday at a Moroccan restaurant with friends and then going out dancing.  Birthdays and other special events usually require high heeled shoes.  By dressing up with heels, a woman can communicate that the event is important enough to suffer a little matters enough to her to look good.

In English, we use all kinds of language that demonstrates the importance of height and stature.  For example:
  • Dress up
  • Rise to the occasion
  • Keep your head up
  • Things are looking up
  • Up the food chain
  • Up the corporate ladder
  • A head above the rest
The list can go on and on.  I know that height is an important issue for men and within the dating world.  This month, I'd like to see how much height and heels really matter.

Once the Month is Over

I've officially started the next experiment, yet I find myself still caffeine-free.  Monday, the first day I was "allowed" to drink caffeine again, I drank tea on the way to work.  A regular cup of coffee has lost some its appeal.  I still have decaf coffee grounds at home and will continue to brew decaf in the mornings.  I don't know when/if/why I would switch back to regular at this point.  Now that it's not forbidden, the temptation is gone.  I can swing by the coffee shop and pick up a cup o' joe anytime I want, so I've chosen not to do it.  Isn't that how temptation always works?

Part of me is scared to get addicted to caffeine again, even though I didn't have any severe symptoms before.  The experiment gave me an excuse to try something different, and I'm liking the change.  I've learned that caffeine reduces the amount of calcium and vitamin D that our bodies can absorb, thus lowering bone density.  Since I have/had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, I need to do all I can to promote my bone health.  If that means giving up some coffee, I am now prepared for that challenge.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I'm disqualified

Dear Blog,

I'm sorry to inform you that I disqualify myself from the Chocolate Challenge as part of caffeine-free month.  Too many sneaks and treats necessitate a chocolate re-do.  A bite of an Easter chocolate egg, a handful of chocolate-covered almonds and a brownie gift from a student led to my decline.  After admitting complete defeat yesterday morning, I splurged on a chocolate cupcake and delicious dark chocolate squares.  Oh, the forbidden fruit is so sweet!  I'm sorry to disappoint you, Blog.  I promise to make it up to you at a later time.  One month the Chocolate Challenge will be on for real.  This time I admit defeat!

your honest chocoholic,