Admit It: High Heels Hurt Like Hell, But We Wear Them Anyway

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 
Agnali / Pixabay

Ladies, it’s time we admit something. We all know it. It’s creeping around the edges of our awareness. It’s only a worry sometimes, but when it is, it’s the absolute worst. It’s living in my closet. It’s living in yours. We’ve got to face it.

High heels fucking hurt.

On the occasions when we moms get to wear them, high heels kill, and not in a fashion sense. They hurt your arch. They hurt the ball of your foot. They may even hurt your shins. Usually about 10 minutes into wearing them, the ache starts — subtle at first, then worse and worse until you’re basically moving from chair to chair and wishing you could take these pretty little pumps off your fucking feet. You can try wedges, and they’ll last you a little longer, but eventually, the pain will still start.

There’s an entire industry now devoted to your hatred of your shoes. They’re called roll-up shoes, and they’re for a night out when you can’t stand your heels any longer. You can buy them from Target online ($24.99, straw-colored, basic) or somewhere called Gavrieli, who sells foldable Italian leather ballet flats for $175.00. Their entire premise is that they fold up to fit in your tiny, tiny purse, and when your feet just can’t deal with the spiked stilettos any longer, you can slip on the fold-up ones instead. You buy shoes to carry with you to replace the shoes you’re already wearing. This is not a joke.

It’s like an unwritten rule that we wear heels at all semi-formal and formal occasions. Headed to work? Better strap on those heels, like 31% of women do daily. Want to look good for a night out? Time for your heels, like 77% of women. They’re basically shackles for your feet. You have to wear them, and if you don’t wear them, it’s assumed you’re making some kind of feminist statement, the kind that goes with unshaved legs and armpits. So you have a closetful because they have to match whatever you’re wearing, even though you hate them and you want to set them on fire.

Except…high heels are cute. Shoes are fun, and high heels are the most fun kind of shoes. We buy heels even if we know they’ll kill our feet, because they’re so hot. Most of us have at least two pairs of black heels. One pair of red heels, which we covet, even though they hurt like a bitch. Then we’ve got a jumble of other pairs, which we can sit down and easily rank according to comfort.

Generally, the higher the shoe, the greater the pain. And height only magnifies the heels’ effect: They elongate your leg, push out your ass, and stick out your chest. The higher the shoe, the more women are likely to get what they want from men, proved Dr. Nicolas Guéguen, a psychologist at the Université de Bretagne-Sud in Rennes. Men filled out surveys more often for women wearing 4-inch heels, as opposed to 2-inchers or flats, and picked up dropped gloves for the high-heeled more often. Guéguen has theorized that this is because women in heels are simply more attractive to men.

But what’s not attractive to men: calf, back, spine, and ligament problems, which can come along with long-term heel wearing. No, the pain isn’t just mental: it’s trying to tell you something. And that something is that you’re throwing your whole body out of alignment, according to the Spinal Health Institute, with your hips and spine pushed forward, excess pressure on your knees, and increased pressure on the balls of your feet. Eventually heels can cause back problems, shortened calf muscles, and slipping vertebrae. Basically, the solution is not to wear heels for prolonged periods of time. Bwhahahahahaha. No problem there, pal.

Because as much as we hate our heels, we love them. We love the pointy toes, which are supposed to make wearing them worse, and increase our chances of getting a damn blister, but whatever. We love the color. We love the 4-inchers, even though we’re supposed to limit them to two. We love being just a little bit taller, and let’s be honest: We all down Advil before we put them on, anyway. Yes, high heels hurt like a bitch. We need to admit it. We need to de-stigmatize flats in the workplace and for formal occasions. But damn it, my red heels are cute. From my cold dead hands, Spinal Health Institute. From my cold dead hands. And my misaligned spine.

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