For Love of Feet or Fashion?

It’s probably safe to assume that we women have all been there at some point or another, and by there I mean falling in love with shoes. Whether it was in your late teens and early twenties when you were coming into your own and creating your own style, or when you were a little older and more established and had the paycheck to feed the shoe addiction with the higher-end brands. We at Slink still embrace our love affair with shoes, which in itself is over a 6 billion a year industry (in the UK alone) and integral to the fashion industry overall. However, we also feel compelled to point out that over the years this love affair with shoes has perhaps cost us a lot more than just the money that we have invested in it.

The Stiletto Psychology

If you are anything like me, you have probably watched more than one episode of Sex and the City, gathering fashion insight and lusting after Jimmy Choo’s latest design that you know you will never be able to afford. What you probably took away from this was that pretty, fashionable shoes was synonymous with stilettos, at that strong, confident women wear these kinds of shoes.

This social stigma around high heels and confidence is referred to as the stiletto psychology. All of the beautiful and successful women that we have been bombarded with on TV, in magazines, and our own contemporary role models all seem to embrace heels as the chic, feminine, confident wardrobe choice. Paired with a ball gown or a business suit, heels are everywhere to be seen. But why does it make us feel sexy and confident to wear heels? Surly everyone has stumbled, if not completely falling flat on our faces, making us look the complete opposite of confident and sexy. Think of actresses falling while walking the red carpet, or that classmate who stumbled while crossing the stage at graduation (there’s always at least one). Not even one second in that moment do those heels make them feel sexy and confident.

The Ugly Side of Beautiful Shoes

And to top it all off, these beautiful shoes have a real ugly side. When we are young we are taught that beauty is pain, but that is a debilitating lesson to perpetuate. There are in fact plenty of practical and pretty shoe options out there, particularly on online stores like Loafers, ballerinas, and Mary Janes are all a lot better for our health and set a more positive example for our younger generation. Many designers are ditching the heels for sneakers and other flatter designs, which is proof that flat does not mean unfashionable!

Unfortunately, this isn’t just a matter of playing through the pain and a little bit of discomfort. High heels create permanent health problems that affect a lot more than just your feet alone. Dr. Nevins with the American Osteopathic Association notes that:

“extended wear of high heels and continually bending your toes into an unnatural position can cause a range of ailments, from ingrown toenails to irreversible damage to leg tendons. Additionally, cramming your toes into a narrow toe box can cause nerve damage and bunions […] High heels have also been linked to overworked or injured leg muscles, osteoarthritis of the knee, plantar fasciitis and low back pain” (see full article here).

Ultimately, those really pretty shoes (if worn almost every day) are putting your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even spine at risk. As your body overcompensates for being on your toes and trying to redistribute your weight on a less than balanced footing, you naturally contort your spine into an unhealthy posture, putting stress on your knees, hips, and lower back, often resulting in nerve and tendon damage, like that of sciatica. According to Dr. Nevis, wearing high heels regularly also results in a shortening of the Achilles tendon, as well as muscles in the back and calves, leading to chronic pain and muscle spasms.

Maybe you think your legs will look longer, or that your bum will look firmer, but at the end of the day when you take the heels off, your feet are throbbing in pain, and you have ingrown toe nails and bunions, perhaps you might question whether heels are necessary to be beautiful.


-- Editor-in-Chief SLiNK Magazine