In Her (High Heel) Shoes

Get It Together
Get It Together

In Her (High Heel) Shoes

By Mary Lou Brink

“How can you wear such high heels?” I get asked that question a lot.

I never really stopped to think about the routine answer I give … until today. “I don’t know. I just do; I am used to them, I guess. Besides, they’re comfortable.” Then I am met with the “are-you-out-of-your-mind” stare or a polite smile and slight head shake of disbelief. They are! Really!

I hadn’t even realized people were paying that close of attention to the shoes I wear. I do admit, shoes are my infatuation -- always have been. My mantra is: Shoes never make you feel bad about yourself. Shoes, no matter how much weight you gain or lose, usually always fit. Therefore, I tend to buy what I think are “cool” shoes. I guess others are taking note of that, too, and that’s perfectly OK with me.

What’s my definition of “cool”? Depends on my mood that day, I guess. I try to stay up with the times, but not too trendy. I really like red shoes (five pair). I like leopard print shoes (three pair). I like a shiny, black, patent leather with silver steel tips on the toes and heels. I like cowboy boots (of course they are metallic, but they still count). Most of my cha-cha pumps (my nickname for shoes) are no higher than 3-4 inches tall. I don’t own any of those crazy 6-inch spikes. (How do people wear those?) Some have a small platform front, others don’t.

But, honestly, I can’t be the only woman on the face of the earth with such a fetish. Consider the following examples:

            * Cinderella and Dorothy (“Wizard of Oz”) are both proof that a pair of shoes can change your life.

            * Elvis sang about “Blue Suede Shoes.”

            * Nancy Sinatra sang, “These Boots are Made for Walkin.”

            * “I did not have 3,000 pairs of shoes, I had 1,060,” said Imelda Marcos. (Don’t I wish I had that many.)

The better question I should ask myself is, “Why do I wear high heels so much?” I know they can’t be good for my posture or feet, but neither have screamed out in protest just yet, and I’ve been wearing them for 20 years or more. Granted, I’ve had the occasional blister or callus, but those are small prices to pay.

When I really think about it, it boils down to this:  I wear high heels for myself. They make me feel polished and put-together. The right pair of heels can really make or break an outfit. Shoe designer Manolo Blahnik said, “You put high heels on, and you change.” Amen, Manolo! I might get horribly frustrated when my favorite pair of jeans won’t zip, but then I slip my foot into a soft, leathery, pointed-toe piece of art, and all my dissatisfaction just melts away. Instant mood lifter!

Because I am only 5 feet 2 inches tall, I need all the help I can get when it comes to a taller physique. Almost everyone I know is taller than I. High heels make me feel empowered, almost as if nothing can stand in my way. One of my favorite quotes is, “Don’t mess with me. I wear heels bigger than your ^*&#.” (I can’t take credit for the quote; I found it on the Internet one day.) I also think high heels make my legs (obviously stubby) look longer and leaner. Nothing wrong with that, right?

If I am coming clean about my shoe addiction, I should do so completely. I have more than 250 pairs of shoes. Not quite Imelda Marcos by a long shot, but not too shabby for someone of modest Midwest means. I’ve been asked, “How many shoes DO you have?” but never admitted that total (even to myself) before.

My haunts are T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s, Designer Shoe Warehouse (thank goodness the one I go to is in Columbus, Ohio!) and a few department stores, but I hate paying full price for brand names. Not all my cha-cha pumps are designer names, but about 80 percent are. I think quality is the key to comfort.

I won’t depress myself (or you) by calculating how much money I have spent on shoes in the past five years. There are some things that need to be left unsaid about this addiction --  this being one of those things.

I hope I have not painted an incorrect picture of myself. While I love my heels, I do wear flats when the need arises. Contrary to popular belief, I do not wear heels during the following: a) when wearing a bathing suit b) when I work out c) in the shower. I own several pairs of running shoes. I have 10 pairs of flip-flops, but I only wear them to run to the mailbox or with my bathing suit.

So, I owe a big thank you to all of you who have noticed my shoes and asked questions about my high heels. You have helped me understand my obsession. I didn’t realize it, but I guess I am becoming known as the woman who always wears high heels. Maybe when I die, someone will write on my tombstone, “She hardly ever wore flats.” I guess I won’t have to worry about it then – they bury you barefoot.

Posted Mon, 10/17/2011 - 1:00 pm