Q:  What do breast implants and 5″ heels have in common?

A:  When women claim they’re doing it for themselves, they’re lying.

Continuing the pink and girly argument that’s been raging on this website for some time now, and in honour of Lady Gaga’s meat feet, I feel obliged to throw in a word about the current fashion for insanely high heels. 

I speak as someone who fell for it, literally and figuratively, hobbling around clubs in downtown NYC in the 1980s in very high heels and sunglasses (at night). I gave myself back problems that still bother me. For about a decade, my calf muscles were so rigid that the shiatsu masseuse who tried to sort me out couldn’t even touch them.

It’s been about ten years since I read Wild Swans, but this description stuck with me:

“[Her mother] first wound a piece of white cloth about twenty feet long around her feet, bending all the toes except the big toe inward and under the sole. Then she placed a large stone on top to crush the arch. My grandmother screamed in agony and begged her to stop. My grandmother passed out repeatedly from the pain…Not only was the sight of women hobbling on tiny feet considered erotic; men would also get excited playing with bound feet… The binding could only be temporarily loosened at night in bed … Men rarely saw naked bound feet, which were usually covered in rotting flesh and stank when the bindings were removed.”

In contrast, the leg lengthening that goes on in fashion photo retouching could almost be considered innocent. If it weren’t so absurd. But can you imagine any man crippling himself in order to impress a woman with his unnatural length of leg?

(And would you like one who did?)

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3 thoughts on “Heels over head

  1. April Genevieve 6 years ago

    Agreed. I haven’t worn heels in some 5 years (my last heels were the two inch ones on a pair of Frye boots I bought after reading Lonesome Dove). I wear my zippered, sunken heel Earth boots. With everything.

  2. Kathryn Evans 6 years ago

    Those rotten feet are a perfect metaphor for the simmering reason behind all this body distortion – how did it go so wrong all over again? Wild Swans is such a beautiful book, one of those that become a part of you, all our daughters should read it x

  3. kokorako 6 years ago

    Body cruelty used to be (still is) carried out by the mums and elder women (eg, female circumcision/foot binding). What’s so strange about fashion is our bad choice of clothes/heels (I’m ignoring textile manufacture practices here) we turn it into self-harm. I’m afraid I’ll be hoping for some bad runway falls at London Fashion Week because this may make all the impressionable girls reconsider tottering tower locomotion. Or maybe I’m just jealous because I even find my riding boot heel a tad too high?!

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