It began in 1533, when Catherine de Medici, wife of the future king Henry 11 who played an important part in the history of 16th Century France, instructed her cobbler to add a two-inch heel to her shoes.
Since then high heels have remained a fashion statement for women, an aid to enhance the allure of their deportment.
“You know those lovely curves you get with high heels? It’s not a normal anatomical position,” these words of Teisha Chiarelli, a podiatrist in Glendale, are like a Gospel saying.
High heels remain the highest sellers, recent embarrassing tumbles by top models at Milan and other celebrity fashion shows notwithstading. Women continue to risk injury for the curves and the gait, paying as much as £1000 for a designer pair.
Men, MCP types, have joked about how women wiggle and wince while walking in high heels. Punch’s famous cartoon showed a lazy gardener tiptoeing on the lawn behind his mistress, a portly Ladyship in high heels, and sowing seeds into holes made by the stiletto. But its all beyond jokes now. Teetering on pointed stilletoes, women risk sprained ankles, pulled muscles, torn ACLs and wrenched backs, costing £29 million a year for corrective surgery.
NHS consultant podiatrist Emma Supple, who led the study, said, “While we love our high heels, wearing them for prolonged periods is bad news for our health and wallets. Heaven forbid that we ban heels from our wardrobes but we want to balance out our heel wearing days, protect our bodies from future damage and avoid injuries.”
She added, “Bunions and corns can be incredibly painful, not to mention unsightly.” The cost of “repairs” is forbidding. Complex surgery like toe straightening alone costs around £1,200 per operation, adding up to £10.4m in a year.
But the NHS’s long waiting list for foot surgery signifies the defiance of women. The study of 1,000 women, funded by shoe firm MBT, found almost half of women in Liverpool and Manchester wore heels all week long. Of these four in ten women had accidents, with most suffering twisted ankles.
But as Pat Curry, HealthAtoZ contributing writer observed, “Women know high heels aren’t good for their feet.” Yet they continue to wear them. Mark it up to the price of beauty.
The final verdict came from Gina, a university student, “If our grandmums could suffer tightening their breasts to flatten them, the price of beauty in their days, why can’t we risk a tumble or two.” Quite!