Tonawanda News

May 23, 2013

KEPPELER: Why do we do this to ourselves?

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — I just spent the day tottering around the newsroom in high heels.

Those are words I never thought I’d be thinking. But with the wedding of my only sibling approaching and a new dress in my closet, I had decided to do my best to look presentable, if not fashionable — and the only other “fancy” shoes I found that day were utterly flat, also torture to my already flat-footed self.

Plus, the heels were on clearance. Worth a shot.

Thinking to “practice” a bit to prepare for the big event, I fished them out of their bag Wednesday and — with much trepidation — put them on. These are not stilettos, mind you, but maybe 2 1/2-3-inch sandals. Still, they were the tallest heels I’d worn since ... maybe ever. Even the shoes I wore at my wedding were lower (and I ditched them as soon as possible for dancing).

My husband the smart aleck told me not to hurt myself as I headed gingerly out to work. Then again, he might have been perfectly serious.

They took some getting used to. I’m sure I looked a bit odd as a I experimented with how to walk without stumbling, lumbering and/or mincing awkwardly about like some demented cross between Frankenstein and a debutante taught to take nothing but tiny steps. My posture felt forced. My feet wanted to know why I was doing this to them.

It got me thinking. Sure, these are nice-looking shoes. But why do we do these things to ourselves?

Of course, by “we,” for the most part here, I mean women. We’re the ones to whom these things are marketed, after all. I’ve seen them dubbed “fashionable” (I suppose that’s true enough by most standards), “fun” and even “professional.”

Well, “fashionable” is a creation of people I don’t care about anyway. Fun? Walking about on your toes is fun? 

My guess is they’re considered fun because they’re considered synonymous with dressing up and going out — and because people who decide what “fashionable” is want us to spend lots and lots of money. 

And my guess is the “professional” label came about because a group of men dictating what’s professional out there just happen to like women in heels. (Although at some point, ties were also deemed professional, although I can’t figure out what’s so professional about a piece of fabric tied around your neck. Makes about as much sense as heels, although less painful.)

In the end, it really should be about what works best for whatever you’re doing. And what difference does the height of a heel make in that?

Now, if you like them, hey, go for it. More power to you. I know women who can run faster in heels than I can in sneakers and those who just plain like how they look. It’s your feet.

But why do we think we have to wear them?

I survived the day in heels. I’ll probably even wear them again, even to somewhere other than the wedding. Once I got used to them, they didn’t hamper me from moving around (much), and these specific heels didn’t even bother my feet in a relatively low dose. In fact, I was sort of proud of myself that I managed so well.

But inside I’m still wondering why I considered wearing them important enough to spend my hard-earned money on something that’s so outside my comfort zone.

And that bothers me.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at