Friday, March 23, 2012

Feminist Fairy Tale, Anti High Heels

Sorry but it probably happened this way

Once there was and once there was not a very gullible woman and a group of oppressive men.
The woman was beautiful and strong. She didn’t know she was strong, though. She didn’t realize she had power that threatened some of the men around her and that she needed to protect her power.
There was a particular man she was attracted to and the feeling was mutual. Deep, deep inside the man was afraid of her though. He wanted her but he didn’t want to have her unless he could strip her of her power.
One of the things that made her powerful was the way she moved. She walked and her body flowed like water; fluid and graceful. She ran fast and strong like a cheetah and beautiful like a horse with its mane flying. She danced like dolphins playing on waves.
The man lay in bed at night scheming how to take her power so that he could have her without risk. What if walking caused her pain? What if running were hard for her? What if dancing wasn’t fun? How could he make that happen?  
He went to sleep, dreaming of the woman, weak and at his mercy. He woke up with a plan.
The next time he saw her, he gave her a present; new shoes. He had them made especially for her. She looked at him, puzzled. There was a tall, pointy thing coming off of the heel. “How can I walk in these?” She asked. “How can I run fast? How can I dance?”
The man told her that he had seen her on tiptoes reaching for something and it made her legs look sexier than when her feet were flat. She didn’t believe him. She told him he was crazy.
He called other men over and they immediately got it. In those shoes women would be weaker. Easier to oppress. They all oohed and aahed. They all told the woman how beautiful she would be in the shoes and how much sexier her legs looked if she stayed up on tiptoes.
Other women gathered around and heard what the men were saying. Soon the shoemaker was rich. Soon the women were weaker because their bodies were no longer carefree when they walked. They couldn’t fun fast or as far in the shoes. They had to pretend to enjoy dancing. They had to drink more alcohol to enjoy dancing, making them even weaker.
Almost all the men were happy. Only a few of them saw the weakened women as less than they could have been and oppressed.
Time passed with women teaching their daughters to believe the lie that their legs were sexier when they were on tiptoes, men teaching their sons to believe the lie that a woman's legs were sexier when they stood up on tiptoes.
And all because no one told the original man who told the original lie that he was a dirty-rotten liar. And a despicable asshole.
Soon the lie was perceived by the culture as truth.

Once there was and once there was not a woman who refused to wear high-heeled shoes. She didn’t believe her legs were sexy when she was on her tiptoes. She felt sexy when she was strong. Her legs felt sexy when she walked carefree without the constraint of shoes that kept her up on her toes. Her legs felt attractive when she ran fast and far. Her legs felt desirable when she danced barefoot and free.
The high-heeled shoes looked hideously ugly to her because they symbolized the attempts of men to oppress her and restrain her movements and freedom. She knew men who wanted her to wear them were weak, fearful and full of shit. She taught her daughters to recognize the lies for what they were. She taught her grandchildren to recognize the lies for what they were.
She wrote a fairy tale and put it up on her blog because she grew weary of hearing otherwise intelligent women repeat the lies.

Once there was and once there was not an original man who told the original lie. He was long dead. He died a slow, painful, suffering death from endless cramps in his feet and legs.

The End.


  1. My dear friend, it is an honor to know and to love you.

    1. Thank you for those kind words. I love you, too, dearie.

  2. Ha! Nicely told. I believe there's a lot of truth in your fairy tale. And I like comfort way too much to wear heels.

    1. That warms my heart because I think of you as a sophisticated girly girl despite the cigar!

  3. Absolutely!! I never wore very high heels anyway because I'm already very tall and didn't want to be 'too tall' and seem 'too different', but after foot surgery I realized the only one benefiting from the heels were the podiatrists. In fact, even my podiatrist mentioned this. He said the chiropractors enjoyed the high heels too because they got quite a bit of business as well.

    So, it's been over 10 years since I've worn anything with even a bit of heel and the only thing that's a pain is that I have to get my pants hemmed because clothing manufacturers make dress pants for women who are wear heels. This is absurd considering I'm already tall - but whatever.

    Thank you for pointing out the absurdity and the craziness. Women and men and teachers and parents and - well, all of us need to remember that kids pay attention to these things. For better and for worse.

    1. It is absurd on all levels, huh?

  4. Beautiful! I cannot walk in heels. I fell off my platforms in '79 while at a school dance. I'd rather wear sneakers. Excellent fairy tale.

  5. I love it. I love you too! Thank you! I've felt like this forever. As I leaf through magazines or click through Pinterest and see pictures of high heels with "ooo, so cute!" written by them all I can see is an instrument of torture. No. Not cute. Not cute at all.

    1. Yep - and the ugly things are getting higher and higher.

  6. Hmmm... I don't completely agree. But instead of highjacking your comments I'll think about it a bit a maybe post on my blog. (Sometimes I say that and then never do. lol. But it's a good topic.)

    Nice fable, though. :-)

  7. I agree with London, but that's mainly because I'm a history nerd. This is more of a modern permutation. Good topic.

  8. Everyone has their own opinion. My point is not about the history. My point is - beauty is subjective. It is not healthy or reasonable or okay to say that a womans legs are more attractive when she's on her tiptoes. It's degrading and oppressive. I've seen detailed, medical attempts to justify it and it's wrong. If you want to choose to walk around on your tiptoes in shoes like that - go for it. But don't agree with a standard of beauty that IS NOT HEALTHY. And don't pretend they are comfortable for any natural movements for any length of time.
    I have to be honest here. Delia, Kris and London Mabel are all highly intelligent women and it breaks my heart to hear them further this lie. Womens legs are not more beautiful when they are on tiptoes any more than mens are.

  9. I don't disagree that it's unhealthy. When I talk about history, what I mean is that, from Helenic times right through Victorian times, high heels were worn by both men and women. They were a symbol of status more than anything. It was a way to show the lower classes who was who. People who wore those shoes were not the ones tilling fields or standing and doing manual labor all day. The perpetuation of this type of footwear stemmed from this. The damaging notion of sexiness is a modern permutation. Not everything that has been taken advantage of by the patriarchal society was begun by it. That's all I meant.