Courtesy of Photoframe

Courtesy of Photoframe

A new scanner shows just how damaging high heels really are. It’s time some fashion maven breaks rank to save millions of gullible women from a life of unnecessary foot and back pain.

I have a word or two for you, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo. Get real.

These shoe designers, (Jimmy Choo sold his business to heiress Tamara Mellon), create architectural marvels that are revered by footwear addicts the world over. Their fans collect them as though they were works of art; their price tags run pretty close. Connoisseurs will breathlessly tell you that wearing stilettos empowers them. High heels elongate the legs, exaggerate feminine curves, and instantly boost your stature by 5 inches or more.

Too bad they also destroy your feet, for like, forever.

A new gadget called the PedCAT machine is the first scanner that gives a 360° view of the foot. And, for the first time, it reveals, in glorious technicolour, just how much damage high heels wreak. Because toes are forced into a too tight space and the front of the foot bears the weight of the body, the bones in the foot become deviated and dislodged, causing conditions such as bunions, hammertoes and arthritis. These conditions are not very pretty. They can also be debilitating.

Yet not one designer or fashion plate has ever come out and said, “Hey, you know, these stilettos are a bit criminal. Maybe we shouldn’t foist them on all women.”

We know why the fashion industry pushes skyscraper heels (money). Why otherwise sensible women embrace them is beyond the scope of this piece. But think about it. We recoil at ancient customs like Japanese foot binding that crippled upper-class women, and whalebone corsets that choked the life out of them by damaging internal organs but, today, women willingly cripple themselves, all in the name of style.

It’s not like high heels feel great. They don’t. Often they cause great pain to the point that all a woman can think about is going home so she can kick them off. That could be the first clue that they’re toxic.

Too many times to count I’ve witnessed women who were literally unable to walk in high heels. They would make a trip to the ladies room look like walking the plank, weaving side-to-side like dipsomaniacs, or clomping down the aisle like draught horses. Let me tell you, not alluring. In what passes for normal in the fashion industry, I’ve heard fashion editors request that PR minions send over a taxi to take them from their hotel to a meeting only a few short blocks away because they were wearing the latest platform shoe from Prada and could barely stand, let alone walk.

There’s a Christian Louboutin exhibit showing here in Toronto. Whoopee. His shoes are punishing. Even his espadrilles, which should be forgiving, are a penury to wear. I interviewed Louboutin several years ago. Guess what he wears? Running shoes and butter-soft loafers. Yet good luck trying to find anything so sensible in his collections for women.

Recently in London I went into Selfridges, a high-end department store. Maybe I would treat myself to a pair of shoes as a souvenir, I thought. Not a chance. There were hundreds of pairs of “stripper heels” on display—sky-high stilettos encrusted in crystals or adorned with exotic feathers or reptile skins—but not one interesting shoe that didn’t also require a chauffeur.

You know what would be really “fashion forward”? A designer who would have the courage to break rank and create gorgeous shoes for women who enjoy walking, not just demurely crossing and uncrossing their legs while seated. Louboutin? Blahnik? Anyone?


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