A friend once proclaimed to me that you could tell what a man was like by the kind of shoes he wore. We then proceeded to tick through the list of all our mutual male aquaintances and cackle over the minute personality implications of their respective shoe decisions: Sylvester? Those brown tasseled loafers are so him! (Cackle, cackle, cackle.)
Still, playful and frivolous as her theory was, it stuck with me for some reason, and throughout the years, I’ve been surprised at how often the thought pops into my head, and how neatly it holds up at times, for a blasé personality generalization based soley upon outerwear.
I mention this little story because I am about to make one of my own. A generalization, that is.
I am well aware of the great many dangers involved in this sport; publicly-announced generalizations are a tricky business to undertake in these enlightened times. One risks having to face, for example, the truly tiresome, woefully inevitable, but tediously necessary “Well, you’re just generalizing. Everyone’s different, you know.”
I will be brash and continue anyway.
There are two types of women in this world: Those who wear high heels regularly and those who don’t.
(There are also roughly a bazillion other types of women, I know, I know, but a bazaillion doesn’t sound nearly as resolute or sensational as two so let’s just ignore the rest for now.)
High heels look good, there’s no denying it. And for the most part, they look better than flats. When I think of flats, I think cute. Comfortable. Heels, on the other hand, beckon forth a much more versatile range of adjectives in description: striking, elegant, dramatic, intimidating, chic, graceful, dignified, theatrical, refined. Flats are practical: heels are glamourous.
Unfortunately, heels are also painful as puck to wear, they’re difficult to walk in, and they’ve been medically proven (medically proven, I say!) to cause long-term damage to major joints, ligaments, and muscles, if worn on a regular basis. Which brings me back to my generalization: it takes a certain type of woman to wear high heels on a regular basis. Because to put on high heels every morning and then to wear them around all day is a sartorial decision that requires much too much effort and work to do casually or thoughtlessly: it takes commitment. It takes work. One must learn how to walk gracefully at precariously high altitudes (no small feat), one must learn to bear the discomfort of being in heels all day (again, no small feat), one must be willing to risk future aches and pains in the knees and joints and wherever else in the body that aches and pains. As a consistently-high-heeled friend of mine once put it, “It’s a lifestyle.”
For that second type, the un-high-heeled type, like me (surprise, surprise), it is a foreign lifestyle. Almost every single pair of shoes I own are flats, and the two pairs of heels I do own I almost never wear. Of course, I have worn heels before: agonizing feet pain every time, and every time resulting in me kicking the blasted heels off in disgust after the event or party or wedding and angrily muttering, “Well! I’m never wearing those again.”
But still, there are times – maybe after watching a beautiful, lovely woman glide gracefully past me on a pair of sleek heels – I think of maybe trying to become a high-heel-type person. All it takes is some practice, I say to myself. And then I put on a pair and remember after about twenty minutes why I am so so so not a high-heel-type person. The trouble just doesn’t seem worth it to me. Which is a shame – because heels look good.
By Helen Zou