I never want to wear heels again. I would title this post that, but I believe that people change and grow and it’s not completely unlikely that at some point I’ll decide that all I want to wear are heels (ok, I guess it is unlikely but not impossible). For the present however, and any related version of the future, I just don’t see it happening. When I picture a scenario in which I have to wear heels it is always “Meeting the Queen”. That is the fanciest occasion I can imagine, and I would currently participate in said event while wearing black flats.
I haven’t worn a high heeled shoe, wedges included, since April 2018. When I originally downsized, I kept two pairs, a lower heeled black Mary-Jane style and a higher heeled strappy sandal. I’ve worn the sandal zero times since the clothing purge, as when it is warm enough for open toed shoes I bike almost everywhere… and this is not a style made for commuting on a bicycle. Or, frankly, walking. Great for sitting around, but when I leave the house to sit around at a bar or someone else’s home, I need a way to get there. When I’m sitting around in my own home… well, I’m not even wearing a bra (I know, TMI), so you can certainly forget about shoes of any sort.
The Mary-Janes were great for work though! If “great for work” translates to “everyone will outrun you in an emergency”. I recognized their impracticality right away, as we live down a 350-foot unpaved hill. On good days it’s dirt, on medium days it’s plentiful snow, on bad days it’s mud. I tackled this problem by wearing other boots to work and changing into the heels in my office. That way, I could feel fancy and powerful. Because that’s the sort of power that comes from shoes…
I’m joking above, but really as women, we’re conditioned to believe that crap. Between lipstick and shoes, I’m not sure which is marketed as the more potent lady crack, but we are told all kinds of lies. Shoes become a symbol of status, of sexiness, of friendship (let’s go shoe shopping!). Not to mention, a new pair of shoes is the bedrock of retail therapy. An average woman owns 21 pairs of shoes and doesn’t even wear 4 of them! 32% of women own more than 25 pairs of shoes! (That used to be me)
I’m not against spending money on shoes. My new as of October winter boots from Will’s Vegan shoes were over $100 and they’re totally worth it. I bought these as part of my conscious consuming efforts, although after reading “Doing Good Better” my viewpoints on the issue have changed- another reason not to stand strongly by “never”. Even with that in mind, I don’t regret the purchase. They are really well made; I’ll be able to re-sole them if I need to. They are comfortable, light weight and quite cute. They are my winter boots. This means they are the only shoe I wear from October to March unless I am working out or hiking. I also have slippers to wear in the house. Four pairs of shoes, for four different occasions. It makes things really simple. Heels are not called for in this equation. Should a special occasion arise (say a wedding- the Queen meeting is purely hypothetical at this point), I might pull out black flats or stick with the boots, it really depends on the type of venue.
With winter covered, what does summer look like? Yes, I’m ignoring spring and fall as they last at most 3 weeks a piece here, so all you need is some summer + some winter+ rubber boots (spoiler alert: the rubber boots become the bedrock of this foundation!). Summer is sandals or flats, unless I’m-wait for it- hiking or working out (I have a pair of water shoes as well as since the bottom of the lake is really rocky). I will need a new pair of sandals as mine are broken beyond repair as of the end of last summer. I also actually need this pair of black flats I mentioned several times up to this point, but don’t actually own… I currently own a yellow pair of flats, which is cute and comfy, and a black and white pair, which is slowly falling apart, has no arch support and needs to retire. I picked up the yellow pair in a thrift store and it’s not very high in quality. It will most likely fall apart next season, at which point of time I’ll replace it with those black flats.
There you have it- a minimalist hippy lives on the bottom of a muddy hill, owns 8 pairs of shoes and doesn’t find heels a practical choice. That’s half of the story… and then there’s the social conditioning component. I still feel like I need heels to be sexy and polished. This is a belief that is somehow ingrained in me really deeply. It’s probably the fashion magazines I read from a young age with all of their glossy ads. The commercials on TV. Carrie from “Sex and the City”. All of this creates a social standard in which a sexy woman is wearing heels (and most likely her legs are bare, regardless of the season). As much as I hate to admit it, I still long to be that person, especially when I’m feeling self-conscious or unloved. The pragmatic part of me recognizes that as asinine, but the socially-conditioned vulnerable bit longs for the high-heeled perfection.
This is where my gripe with heels truly comes from- I’ve been brainwashed! I’m just recognizing it and I’m having a difficult time shaking it. While I know what I want in my core, there is a voice in my head that is not my own, telling me what I should do and how I should feel. It is to that voice that I categorically say “No”. I don’t want to indulge it in any way. Instead I want to exorcise the demon of consumerism, the ghost of purchases and behaviors past. I am a constantly growing and evolving person and, trust me, my appearance is not the most interesting part of me. Nor do I want it to be. I want to project inner light, kindness and acceptance into the world. I don’t think I need heels for that.
I could give up everything related to appearance and transition to a burlap sack… but that feels a little extreme. After all, I’m trying to find balance, the sweet spot, if you will. I think giving up heels is part of that balance. I don’t want to say I’ll never wear them again, but I know I don’t want to wear anything, ever, for the wrong reasons.