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Donna Highfill Headshot

Sasquatch Declares Stiletto Heels the New Lotus Foot

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I'm not sure why shoes are so important to so many women -- especially those stiletto heels that jack you up, causing you to resemble a car having a back tire changed.

High heels used to be reserved for special occasions. Stiletto heels were worn mostly by those women frequenting street corners. Now I see stiletto heels on the feet of other professional women, and it makes me physically hurt to watch them walk.

The idea that women should wear uncomfortable shoes was created by -- get ready for it -- designers who design SHOES. They wanted us to believe that we aren't beautiful without the pointed, narrow, jacked up accessory that is used to walk on the grimy asphalt.

I ask but one question -- if stiletto heels or tiny pointed toes or wedges that give you the height of Lurch are so vitally important to an outfit, then why aren't men wearing them?

Why do they get the shoes that have very slight heels, shaped so that every toe can fit comfortably without lapping over the top of another little piggy? Why is it our piggys that have to cry "wee wee wee" all the way home?

Imagine Abraham Lincoln tottering up to the stage to give the Gettysburg address in a pair of kitten heels. I just don't think the line Four score and seven years ago ... would have the same power if he had been tottering like a newborn calf while delivering his address.

Think about Napoleon delivering one of his famous speeches to the troops, walking with his knees slightly bent as his stiletto heels sink into the earth:

Do not regret my fate; if I have consented to survive, it is to serve your glory. I intend to write the history of the great achievements we have performed together. Adieu, my friends. Would I could . . . . shit [falls off heels and can't catch himself because his hand is in his jacket] . . . press you all to my heart. [Calls for medic]

And, yet, we are asked to wear these contraptions every single day while walking to work, leading meetings, giving speeches, and pushing kids in strollers.

I read somewhere that the Chinese bound the feet of their women, creating "lotus feet," because it caused them to stick their buttocks out while walking, which the men found arousing. Yep, they had their feet broken and bent until their toes touched the bottom of their feet and suffered crippling pain the rest of their lives just because the men in their society wanted them to show a little junk in the trunk.

Extreme high heels, in my opinion, provide the same effect. Heels elongate the legs, shifting the center of gravity from the heel to the ball of the foot, forcing the butt and chest out for balance. Lotus.

Maybe my bias comes from jealousy, since I look a bit like Sasquatch when I walk in high heels. I don't stick out my chest and butt. Instead, I bend my knees to maintain balance, and hunch my shoulders from the tension of trying not to fall off my shoes. Inevitably, one of my wobbling ankles will fold and I will topple into some unsuspecting person on the sidewalk and yell, "Son of a bitch!'

I was born with flat feet, and as a little girl I had to wear something called "corrective shoes" that was code for "big, red, ugly, expensive shoes with metal toes and arches that will get you mocked in school."

I must say those red honkers gave me power on the playground. My sister and I were known as the "terror sisters," because any time a boy bullied one of our friends, the bully would be forcibly brought to us. My sister would lecture him and hold his arms while I kicked his shins with my metal-toed shoes. We were The Sopranos of elementary school, throwing little plastic stick horse heads in the beds of bullies, and my shoes were our brass knuckles.

I grew to love those shoes, and eventually graduated to saddle oxfords and tennis shoes with cookies in them. Yes, I too was bummed when I found out that cookies were actually arches and not edible. So, shoes and I have had a thing going on for years.

But as I walked through New York City this weekend and watched young women hoofing it on concrete in jacked up heels, I just didn't get it. I was even worried for that drag queen trying to balance all 6' 2" of himself on stilettos.

Studies have shown that the knees, hips and back take a real beating in high heels. The changed positioning of the body forces joints into unnatural positions. The cartilage between bones can wear down over time, which causes joint pain and is a precursor to arthritis.

They're starting to see joint changes in women as young as 25-years-old.

I am sure that somebody can give me examples of women in power who wore super high heels or wedges or both, but I'm not sure that I can come up with anyone right now.

Perhaps Susan B. Anthony rocked some spiked heels; maybe Indira Ghandi sat around discussing her latest pair of Jimmy Choo's. I don't know.

Today, we're all supposed to be stick thin and jacked up. I can tell you this, if I wear a shoe that tilts me forward and I gain momentum while walking, then somebody in front of me is going down.

If you insist on wearing heels on a daily basis, try these tips:

• Only wear high heels on the days when you have little walking to do. If you go dancing in them, take them off immediately. This becomes quickly acceptable when everybody else is wasted.

• Wear soft insoles in your shoes to at least cushion the foot and heel. I would blow in cushion like insulation. The more, the better.

• Wear high heels only for special occasions rather than on a daily basis, and you will reduce the long term effects on your body. Make sure the special occasion is really special. Going to mail a letter five blocks away? Not special.

• Step heel to toe as you would when walking in any shoe. Don't let the toe and heel hit at the same time. You will need to practice this so that people on the street don't point and laugh.

Or, try my method. Just don't wear them at all and celebrate your shortness. My body is getting sucked into the ground daily thanks to age and gravity. Rather than fighting it, I've just changed my role models. I'm looking for greater wisdom and shortness in stature.

The picture on my desk of my new model is lovely and green. It's Yoda.

Beautiful in flat shoes, I am.