Saturday, 8 January 2011

Head over heels

As it's (nearly) a year since I wrote on here, I thought I would start this new year off with a new post, and open this blog up for comments again.

When I first started this blog, it was intended as an outlet for a few rants, and to write about some of the issues that concern me. These are, in no particular order, vegetarianism, animal cruelty, feminism, and probably coming in second place - globalisation, consumerism and environmentalism. I'm sure there are more issues that I occasionally get wound up about for at least five minutes, but those must be the main ones as they are the ones that came to mind first. (So if the opinions of a lefty, vegetarian, hairy-legged feminist are of no interest to you, I suggest you find another blog right now).

However I no longer feel like ranting as it is far too energetic and tiring, so any posts on here will be more thoughtful (??) in a musing sort of way. That was musing, not amusing.

So, head over heels? One of the perennial discussions in feminist circles - along with wearing pink, using make-up, shaving, and other such hugely important topics - is wearing high heels. Or even anything that isn't flat. One of the other perennial discussions is why these topics even get a look in, when women are being murdered, raped, abused, and victimised because of their sex, every day of the year.

But changing opinions and stereotypes needs to be confronted at many different levels. And to me, it would be fatuous to pretend appearances don't matter. They do.

So if you are wobbling around precariously on some dangerous footwear, with baby doll smooth legs, and a face plastered with cement make-up, you may want to ask yourself why you are doing it. And you will probably answer - because it makes me feel good, and I look better.

That's what I have said in the past when I asked myself why I did it. Whether or not you have taken into account that you may be conforming to (patriarchal) societal expectations and perpetuating the 'sex symbol' stereotype is another matter. Or maybe you are aware of them and consider that they don't affect you. Or any other woman? And that's just for appearances' sake.

What about the damage to your feet, posture, back, legs? My mother had a huge array - I say huge, I mean to my small childlike eyes - of stiletto heels in the shoe cupboard. I would try them on when dressing up, and stagger around in them. This was particularly stupid as not only were they vertiginous, they were far too big. How I never fell over and sprained an ankle is beyond me, particularly as I invariably wore her overlong frocks and usually had a train, secured in place by my tiara. Still, us women have to start practising these important things early in life. In fairness to my mother she did tell me not to wear the shoes, so I had to wait for her to clear off to work when indulgent Granny was in charge and never denied me anything.

In my teens I graduated to my own high heels, I think three inches was about the highest I scaled. About the only flat pair of shoes I had at that time was a pair of walking boots and a pair of tennis pumps. It was hardly as though I 'needed' the height - at 5'8" or 9" I was well above average height.

And the whole idea of needing heels to look taller is just crazy. What is it built around? The idea of tall, slim, long-legged woman - whose role in life is to attract men. As someone who was/is tall, slim, and with longish legs I can tell you that men are just as interested in short, not particularly slim women with crap legs. So all you short women who want to be tall are just buying into a silly myth. Men are just as keen on the other female stereotype, that of the little woman who needs to be protected.

Which brings me onto that other crazy expectation. That men MUST be taller than women. Why? The same protective non-threatening theory? Imagine my chagrin when all my tiny short friends ALWAYS attracted the 6'2" boyfriends and I was stuck with the ones around my height or slightly less. If I wore those desirable heels, I towered over the men. If I wore flats, I looked soooo unsexy.

I have no idea when I abandoned these weird and unrealistic notions. Probably when I started hunting for non-leather shoes - the choice of decent synthetic shoes/boots is/was limited. Or maybe it was when I finally realised high heels were not really very practical at all. With the help of mail order companies in pre-internet days, I managed to find some decent flat boots, and scoured department stores for flattish but hopefully smartish shoes.

A couple of years ago I had been reading a discussion on a forum about this very topic. A day or so later I noticed some women in the local square wearing a variety of boots, mostly with high heels, but one woman wore a pair of flat boots. She had a free and easy walk and looked full of confidence. In comparison the other women looked slightly strained and false. Maybe just my biased view.

This year, I am amazed. Everywhere I look, 9/10 women wearing boots are wearing flat ones. Such is fashion, and our brainwashed addiction to it. It's one of the better years by far, ojal√° that these wonderful boots were churned out every year and women stopped feeling the need to totter and teeter around in crazy footwear.

As for me, I found a wonderful on-line store based in London where they also have a showroom, bought one pair of boots and then ordered another two in different styles. Three pairs of flat, comfortable and stylish boots? From a vegan ethical company? I couldn't believe my luck.

Gratuitous pix of a pair of my new booties.


Dina ... UK said...

The other week I was looking through my wardrobe and came across a beautiful pair of Revel shoes worn once, they are that high I doubt very much I would put them on again, what a waist.
I think these days high heels are not so popular, as younger people are going more for comfort fashion.
The Virgin advert incorporates all what you are saying, super model and face value sexual attraction.
P.s. I like the boots. :)

You have inspired me to do a blog post at last. lol

roughseasinthemed said...

Aw cheers Dina. if I keep writing more does that mean you will keep blogging more too? :D

Marvin -The Hollow Hound said...

well I am loving the pics of your boots, sorry been a while to get here to comment etc.

Like you I am same height, and to be honest never actually worn the 70s I loved the wedge heeled shoes, had loads of those.

But, never really been a shoe personage. I love ankle boots though, and yesterday was treated to a wonderful pair which the most stylish and excuse the expression f. me looks about them.

No heels though, I just don't ever do heels, don't need to and don't want the discomfort. Never, ever have I worn stillettos, and never will. I like to be comfortable but also look kinda edgy. "Rock Chick look" is always what I aim for, sadly "old biddy in silly boots" is maybe, perhaps what comes over .......but life is too short to worry.

And way too nice boots in the pics!

Jeannie x (cos although signed in my Marvin, he has no idea about bloody boots LOL)