Shoes. It’s a love-hate relationship for most women. The pleasure of an adorable pair of pumps that makes the whole outfit, weighed against the pain of balancing your body on less real estate than your average tightrope walker is accustomed to. Personally, I think it’s a vast misogynist conspiracy. In our modern world, happily, men simply aren’t allowed to oppress women as a class. Unless, of course, they can convince us to do it to ourselves. Think I’m wrong? Check out photos of Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, and Christian Louboutin, and see what they’ve got on their feet. Not a strappy, stiletto, or platform in sight.
I’m kidding, at least mostly. But from whalebone corsets to needle-toe boots, it’s utterly appalling what women have been willing to do to their bodies in the name of fashion. You probably know that you’re damaging your feet, and possibly your ankles, back, etc., and maybe you’re willing to take that hit in the name of looking fabulous. But did you know you’re also sabotaging your diet?
Stumbling in the Working World
When I worked in an office, I was famous for striding, and sometimes running, through our long, carpeted office corridors in my stocking feet. Anybody who came looking for me in my office knew that if my shoes weren’t sitting empty under my desk, I was either in a conference with a client, or in a partner’s office. If I needed something from the data storage vault or the word processing department, I knew I could cover the several hundred yards in roughly one-third the time if I left my pumps behind, so I did. Yet I secretly laughed at the fitness-buff secretary who kept a pair of running shoes in her desk and changed at lunchtime, because she looked like a complete doofus walking out the door in a tailored suit, silk blouse, and Converse All-Stars. I now have the perspective of greater age and wisdom, and I say, Welcome to Doofushood.
I looked into a “walk to fitness” plan awhile back, so I dutifully bought a pedometer and I discovered something amazing– I was already at their goal of 5,000 to 10,000 steps per day, between running up and down stairs putting laundry away, walking to our mailbox, grocery shopping, running errands, etc. It seems like no matter how carefully I make out my list, I make a complete traverse of my grocery store at least four or five times per trip. And Walmart? Forget about it. If I went to Walmart every day, I could do a 10K by the end of the month. So if I’m going to take those steps anyway, why not do it at a clip that will get my heart rate up and burn some fat? But you can’t do it in heels. So I make sure that if I have the opportunity for a few thousand steps, I’ll wear at worst a comfy pair of loafers, and ideally good-supporting athletic walking shoes. (At home, of course, I’m barefoot or in socks, but even if they’d let me in Walmart without shoes, the thought of contacting that floor with my bare skin fills me with unbridled terror.)
You wouldn’t step on the treadmill at the gym in heels (I hope), so why would you waste valuable time out of your day tottering around a grocery store in heels, when you could get some exercise AND get your shopping done in half the time if you were wearing different shoes? I would never say sensible shoes, because isn’t THAT the kiss of fashion death. I can probably be fined by the San Antonio Cultural Commission, but I truly believe that SAS Shoes (San Antonio Shoes…Shoes…) should just change their name to BUS (butt-ugly shoes) and be done with it. Still, there are plenty of walkable shoes that won’t make you look like you mugged an old lady for her kicks. Put “penny loafers women” into your favorite search engine and behold the number of companies making a cute leather loafer that will look great with jeans and not unreasonable with business wear. Take loafers AND pumps to work, look fabulous when you want to, but be mobile when you can be. Turn heads in the meeting, then put it in high gear for the walk to lunch or the parking garage. And if you do routinely walk through a darkened parking garage, I don’t have to tell you that being able to safely break into a dead run is a good idea.
Hobbled by Fashion Sense
I admit that I didn’t really get the shoe gene. My mother had the most adorable tiny feet (size 6 1/2 AAAA, I am not kidding), and every shoe looked great on her. Better yet, she wore such an extreme size that stores frequently couldn’t sell them, so they marked them down to the point where she got designer shoes for a song. Not me. My feet are pretty enough– no bunions, hammertoes, or corns– but they aren’t tiny. I wore size 8 1/2 AA before I had my son and size 9 M afterwards. (Yes, those of you who drop $1000 on Manolos and plan to have children in the future had better start preparing now to give those shoes away to a really good friend, because there’s more than a good chance that pregnancy will change your shoe size. Permanently.) It’s the rare shoe that can make my feet look delicate. But occasionally, when I know I don’t have to walk far or stand for long periods, I, too, will wear the cruel shoes in the name of style (Yes, those are my actual shoes in the picture. Cute, huh?).
There’s a saying that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in heels. True enough, but she was getting paid rather well for twisted ankles and bleeding toes. What’s your excuse? Walking is one of the best, most natural exercises we can do. We walk every day. We have to. So start thinking about the steps you’re already taking in a day, and look at them as opportunities. Step lively, and don’t let your shoes set your pace.