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Laverne H. Bardy Headshot

The Agony of Defeet

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I recently learned about a craze that's been added to the growing list of body mutilations for beautification. Doctors whittle away and add to all parts of our bodies. They stick needles into our foreheads, jaw lines, lips and breasts. Tattoo artists shoot permanent ink under our skin. We have holes pierced into our faces, and various other body parts that are better left unmentioned.

And now, something I hadn't known about. Have you ever wondered how models and other beautiful people manage to balance on stiletto heels as they strut down runways or walk the red carpet en-route to picking up an Oscar? Well I have. I, whose duck-like waddle has, on more than one occasion, caused me to slip, and slide off my own flat sandals during the simple act of walking; I, who after four knee surgeries, deal with stairs like a toddler -- one two, one two -- while grabbing onto the banister; I, who am elated if I safely make it from point A to point B without tripping over low air currents, would really like to know how the beautiful people stand erect, forge ahead and even dance, on five inch needle-thin mules that make even the ugliest pair of pylons look willowy.

Do I sound bitter? Perhaps, just a tad. Even in my prime, lovely legs and graceful walking were alien to me. As a high-school twirler guys whistled and hooted when I strutted across the football field.

"Stay clear of Laverne," they'd shout. "Her knock knees have been known to start fires."

I once had a guy, in pursuit of a date, compliment me on my calves, which were all he could see from below my hemline.

"I'd sure like to see the upper part of those shapely legs," he hinted with the subtlety of a charging rhinoceros. Caught off guard I responded with, "I'm afraid you'd be disappointed. My thighs aren't nearly as slender as my calves."

"I'm not an idiot," he snapped. "Do you really think I thought those slim piano calves had the strength to hold up that large ass?"

But I digress. I mention those things only to explain my rancor and elicit sympathy.

What allows models and celebrities to glide effortlessly on spindly high-heels is collagen. The same collagen used to plump up faces, is injected into the balls and heels of their feet. The effect, lasting from six to nine months, helps alleviate the tenderness that occurs when putting weight on the ball of the foot.

Some podiatrists have opted not to use collagen. Instead, they inject patients with fat from their own bodies. I kinda' like the idea of having fat withdrawn from my butt and thighs, but if they then inject it into the balls and heels of my feet, I'm in real danger of becoming nine feet tall.

You'll be thrilled to learn that along with all the other countless bodily assaults that take place during the aging process, after the age of 40, foot padding starts to go, also.

I'm having a rough time accepting that I'll never again be able to wear those beautiful sleek stilettos that I enjoyed when I was young -- stilettos that my father accurately predicted would ruin my feet and aid in cultivating bunions and hammer toes.

I recently purchased a chic outfit for a special function I'd be attending. It cried out for sexy high heel sandals with thin spaghetti straps. I ransacked my closet, and nothing would do, so I drove to the mall where, after rummaging through shoes in five stores, I found percisely what I wanted, and slipped them on. They were perfect. But I couldn't walk. The heel was so high that my body pitched forward, and the spaghetti straps outlined, squeezed and pinched my bunion, causing sharp, pulsating pain. There would be dancing at this affair so, sadly, those shoes would never do.

Then I remembered my mother's sage words. "To be a woman of substance you must endure the pain of girdles, bras, panty hose and tight shoes."

I bought the shoes, made an impressive first impression, then danced the night away.

In stocking feet.