High heels have long been seen as a key hallmark of womanhood, a symbol of sophistication that sets women apart from men and signals a female's sense of style and grace.
But let's be honest and admit that high heels can be the worst. They hurt, inflicting long-lasting damage on your muscles, bones, posture and more. They slow you down (try running to catch a bus in stilettos). And they also make you taller, a goal many petite women strive for but plenty of tall women would actually like to avoid.
So you may be shocked to learn: You don't actually need to wear them. Quietly but assuredly, several famous women have been waging their own mini battles against high heels -- and winning. Here are eight women who are proving that being a woman doesn't have to mean loving high heels.
"Why do we wear them? They're so painful." -- Emma Thompson
At the National Board of Review awards gala last Tuesday, British actress Emma Thompson accepted her Best Actress award with no shoes on. She finished her speech with the following manifesto: "I've taken my heels off as a feminist statement really, because why do we wear them? They're so painful. And pointless, really. You know, I really would like to urge everyone to stop it. Just stop it. Don’t wear them anymore. You just can't walk in them, and I’m so comfortable now."
"I have to take my shoes off, you guys." -- Lena Dunham
The "Girls" star also took to the stage to accept an award sans shoes. At the 2012 Glamour Women Of The Year Awards, Dunham walked onstage in metallic high heels; but a few sentences into her acceptance speech, she paused and told the audience, "I have to take my shoes off, you guys, I'm so sorry." After placing the pumps safely to the side, she quipped, "It was never going to go OK that way."
"I hate high heels, more than anything." -- Cara Delevingne
This top model has worn every sort of designer heel on the runways of Paris, Milan, London and New York. But Cara told Vogue UK in February 2013, "The worst part of being a model? I hate high heels, more than anything." Sure enough, when she's not on-duty, Cara can rarely be seen in anything but high-top sneakers.
"Literally, these [heels] slow you down." -- Kristen Stewart
Stewart's sneakers have become a ubiquitous red carpet staple, and the actress makes no apologies for them. "I feel more confident on my feet," she told InStyle.com in 2013. "Like in a photo, obviously, things look better wearing heels, but in terms of just kicking around and actually like experiencing an entire night, heels limit me." She added, "I feel I can experience about half of my night that I would be able to experience if I was just wearing shoes and I could run around. Literally, these [heels] slow you down."
"I do not improvise in heels." -- Amy Poehler
As a comedian who isn't afraid to be perfectly honest, Poehler told Vanity Fair, "I do not improvise in heels... I improvise in sneakers. Why would I improvise in heels? It's terrible." And why would a female comedian need heels to be funny when men can do so in flat shoes?
"[Please let my daughter] not have to wear high heels." -- Tina Fey
In her touching letter to her daughter in "Bossypants," Fey writes that she hopes her child will "not have to wear high heels" in the future (as well as avoid a whole slew of other curses associated with being a woman).
"When I'm wearing heels at events, my feet feel like they're sitting in pools of blood." -- Elizabeth Olsen
This actress takes after her famous twin sisters with her love of flats. She even wore flat sandals at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, ground zero for glamorous get-ups (and the highest of heels). Olsen told ASOS magazine in 2012, "I don't like wearing heels. I've had a couple of times now where I feel like, by the end of the night, when I'm wearing heels at events, my feet feel like they're sitting in pools of blood. And it's really awful."
"Satan's shoes." -- Jennifer Lawrence
It's not all too surprising that the woman who face-planted while walking onstage to accept an Oscar is not a high fan of heels. (As it turns out, it was the deadly combo of high heels and a flouncy skirt that did Lawrence in that night.) Lawrence has called her heels "Satan's shoes," taking them off whenever she can (even during interviews).
Why do we do things that hurt us?