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Do you have a fetish for high heels?

I have to confess that with each season, shoe-shopping becomes more difficult, downright traumatic, sometimes even painful – quite literally. And for that I blame high fashion, writes Seema Goswami.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2010 21:01 IST
Seema Goswami

As I might have mentioned before, I am a bit of a shoe fiend. I just love the way the right pair of shoes can elevate an outfit, improve your posture, increase your self-confidence and make you feel good about yourself. Perhaps that is why, try as I might, I can’t bring myself to stop buying more shoes, even though the spirit of Imelda Marcos seems to have taken over my closet.

But I have to confess that with each season, shoe-shopping becomes more difficult, downright traumatic, sometimes even painful – quite literally. And for that I blame high fashion – which has a nasty way of trickling down to the high street – and its penchant for higher and higher heels.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against high heels. In fact, I love their insolent charm, their insidious glamour and the extra inches they grant my middling frame. And I have several dozen pairs in varying heights, which serve me very well at work meetings, cocktail parties, business lunches and formal dinners.

I love the playful chic of my red-soled Louboutin pumps in blue velvet with silver sequins. I pull out my black Jimmy Choo stilettos whenever I’m in the mood for a bit of power dressing. And my L K Bennet suede boots are just the ticket when I want to add a slightly tougher edge to my look.

I love a pair of high heels just as much as the next girl – so long as I can actually walk in them. Which is why I can’t for the life of me work out who the new high-heeled shoes on the market are meant for.

On a recent trawl of the shops with a girlfriend, I was first amazed and then appalled by the frankly ridiculous shoes on sale. And even my friend – who spends all day running around in impossibly high heels – baulked at some of the styles on display. I’m sorry, but as far as I am concerned, an eight-inch wedge is just plain silly. And don’t even get me started on the seven-inch killer stilettos which look more like stilts.

Truth be told, the shoe business has now achieved heights of absurdity undreamt of earlier. It was bad enough when it was peddling four or five inch heels, which were not exactly the last word in comfort. But now high fashion dictates that heels should be even higher, making a mockery of the purpose for which shoes were designed.

So, who thinks up these impractical, foolish monstrosities which pass for women’s shoes these days? Well, for the most part it is male shoe designers, who spend their days in comfortable loafers themselves, but insist on putting women in improbably high heels that are near-impossible to walk in.

When even the models who wear them on the ramp are falling over like ninepins, what hope do us ordinary mortals have of pulling off these killer heels in real life? And yet, every woman I know has at least one such pair tucked away in her wardrobe, which she slips on every once in a while, even though she should know better.

But then, who am I to scoff and scorn? I have a few such shoes myself, though I only pull them out when I am going to spend all evening at a restaurant table. And even then, by the end of the evening, my bunions are sore, my heels inflamed and my feet are killing me one toe at a time. I barely manage to hobble to the car before I throw them off for the ride, walking barefoot up the steps to my front door.

So, in case you are wondering why heels keep getting higher and higher and shoes more and more uncomfortable, I have the answer for you. It’s because we woman keep buying the damn things, no matter how excruciatingly painful it is to actually wear them.

Let me tell you, if any shoe designer tried to pull the same trick on men, he would be laughed out of the business. No man would ever fall for this nonsense of shoes that look amazing but feel downright awful. And I don’t think that it is coincidence that the only shoes that make some sort of style statement in men’s fashion are sneakers.

Yes, you know, shoes that you can actually walk in, hell, run in, without doing yourself actual damage.

So, why do women allow these shoe designers to get away with murder? Why do we put ourselves in shoes in which we can only mince painfully from point to point? Why do we wear heels that give us back pain, strain our hamstrings and ruin our knees? Why are we such gluttons for punishment?

After all, what is the point of shoes if you can’t dance in them? What is the point of a pretty pair of heels, if you have to kick them off at the end of the evening to get the circulation back in your toes? What is the point of shoes that you can only wear if you spend the entire evening off your feet?

Yes, that’s right. There’s no point at all. Which is why the next time I go shopping and see a pair of impossibly high heels, I am going to vote with my feet and just say no.