I was in college when I got my first internship in Washington, D.C.
I spent my winter break trying to find great deals on a professional wardrobe, daydreaming about my working woman “look.” High heels seemed just as vital as a pencil skirt.
Then my mentor burst my bubble, “Do not commute in heels. Not only will you ruin your feet, you’ll ruin your shoes.”
Like with many things, television, movies and social media had given me an unrealistic picture of real life. Anytime I saw professional women in a city setting pictured on TV, they were always dressed to the nines — 3-inch heels included. I remember seeing a t-shirt reading, “Girls can do anything boys can do — in heels”.
As feminist as that notion might seem (and as true as it may be), there was an underlying assumption that women HAD to wear heels to be seen as professional or successful. I lapped up the Kool-Aid — until my mentor snatched it out of my hands.
Instead of traversing cobblestone in stilettos, I invested in a comfortable pair of flats and tucked my black heels into my bag to be donned only once I entered the office.
So here are just three reasons why you should no longer feel compelled to wear heels.
Unless you have a parking spot right in front of your office door, heels introduce too many opportunities to get hurt. Bricks, uneven pavement, manhole covers, drains, ice, slush, mud, the little grooves in the escalator steps: All of these are just asking for an embarrassing tumble and skinned knee.
But perhaps the most convincing reason to ditch the heels? They compromise your ability to run away from threats. You can, of course, take off the heels and make a mad dash, but why not wear shoes that take your safety into consideration — especially if you commute home after dark?
Even the most comfortable pair of heels changes your posture, muscle tone and gait. Just like women strutting down Broadway in high heels is a common visage on TV, women kicking off said heels when arriving home and rubbing their feet is equally as common. Most of us love the way heels make us look, not the way they make our feet feel.
No, comfort isn’t everything — otherwise, we’d go to work in our pyjamas — but even if your work attire isn’t comfortable, it doesn’t have to be UNcomfortable. You’ll work better if you feel good (both mentally and physically) in what you’re wearing!
It’s bad for you
Even Victoria Beckham has confessed that she can’t do heels anymore and there’s a damn good reason. Research into the health effects of high heels found evidence that high heels increase the risk of bunions, musculoskeletal pain and injury including ankle fractures. The longer you wear heels, the harder it will become. In this article, Professor Elisa Kavanagh, a clinical professor of orthopaedics, says that we can eventually lose some of the natural cushioning in the fat pads on the bottom of our feet.
It reinforces the idea women should put looking pretty above being practical and safe
I’m not recommending that women go into professional work settings dressed in their gym attire, and I firmly believe that clothing should fit the occasion: Bathing suits on the beach. Work jeans in the garden. Button downs in the office. And comfortable shoes on the Subway. Heels in the office? That might make sense.
Although there are women who genuinely enjoy wearing heels all the time, if you ask most women why they are wearing shoes that hurt their feet or endanger their safety, they’ll answer: “Because it looks good” or “Because they match my outfit.”
In other words, because women have been convinced by our society that being pretty is more important than being comfortable, sensible and safe.
I’m all about empowering women: So if heels empower you — wear them! But if you’re like many of the women I know and you wear heels out of a sense of duty — ditch them!
Life’s too short to wear shoes that hurt your feet to impress other people. And there are too many cute shoes out there to only wear one style because you “have to.”