Toppling from my heels towards the floor, in that exact moment I knew I had seriously damaged my ankle. I had no idea what I’d done, but the excruciating twinge that shot from my ankle up my leg told me that something was seriously amiss.
I’ve been wearing heels for 15 years and have never had an accident wearing them. Blisters and sore feet yes, but an injury- never.
“I’ve lost toenails to high heels on multiple occasions. But you know what’s worse for my health? The dark sinking feeling of woe I would suffer if I had to stop wearing them,” says Alyx Gorman, fashion editor at TheVine.com.au.
How true this anecdote must ring to women out there for whom wearing heels is a daily part of life. The pull towards a higher stature, leaner legs and the enviable beauty one feels in high heels is potent to say the least. No doubt the memory of clambering into your mothers or sisters heels as a child, fascinated with how you looked is a common experience.
“I could run a half marathon in 7 inch platforms as long as they were wedges, or had a thick heel, but put me in a platform stiletto and you’ll see a great impersonation of a new born baby deer. The point of heels is that they make you look better, not worse,” Alyx says.
The heels I was wearing when I sprained my ankle measured 15cm high complete with a platform sole. They added roughly that to my slight (read: short) frame and I felt like a million dollars gaining interest in them. I took to stacked platform heels with gusto in which I danced, walked, shopped and of course, posed.
Then I fell, and what a sprain it was. I ended up in emergency with an ankle that resembled the foot of a baby elephant. Severe bruising had set in and unable to walk, I was prescribed crutches and painkillers. An x-ray confirmed it wasn’t fractured, but the doctor requested a further CT scan because the sprain was so severe.
“In my opinion, high heels are a cruel joke imposed by someone’s (probably male) idea of beauty that somehow got propelled into modern culture-think Chinese foot binding,” chiropractor Dr. Joe Ierano tells me.
“Very recent stories report an increase in broken ankles and emergency rooms can attest to this. It is increasing in incidence and expense to society. Add to this the risk of foot deformities and spinal pain syndromes and you could quickly argue that high heels drive the wheels of industry for shoe makers and health care professionals alike,” he says.
I wondered however, whether despite the medical evidence available, our attitudes towards an elevated profile would really change?
“Men like heels too. Just the other day I got a press release for Stealth high heels for men, that make you taller while looking like regular shoes. The ability to change your height, and the way you walk and hold yourself just by slipping something on your feet feels a bit magic,’ Alyx says.
That sense of magic is so compelling and could be what drives us towards wearing something on our bodies every day that could break our bones or deform our bodies. Beautiful colours, buttery leather and a heel for every occasion give women a sense of freedom about their appearance and clearly define gender difference. Heels can say many things, but what they spell out more than anything is that you are feminine, and you have choice.
So will we continue to choose something that is potentially bad for our health?
“Just like a sexual fetish that you can’t say no to, that drives the wheels of some illicit industry, or a banned product that drives it underground – some women must have them,” Dr.Ierano says.