Why Women Wear Shoes That Hurt Their Feet

Why do we choose shoes that numb our toes and clothes that inhibit breathing? I challenge women everywhere (including myself) to take an honest look in the mirror to see if we truly are happy to follow the status quo unquestioningly.

There are many items of apparel that women buy and wear, in addition to uncomfortable shoes, that seem rather foolish at times. Why? In some ways, it seems to point to low self-esteem. If we truly felt good about ourselves, wouldn't we choose comfortable clothing and shoes that would enable us to be more productive in our everyday lives (it is difficult to move quickly in those heels without risking injury!) and that would not cause us long-term physical problems (e.g., bunions and a bad back)? Society has conditioned us for so long to think that we must conform to some man's idea of beauty in order to be accepted and appreciated as a woman, even if it includes wearing painful shoes and clothing. The situation grows even more preposterous when we realize that men who want us to dress like that are also products of society; they're just following the guidelines set by a few who are trying to cash in on the conformist tendency of most humans!

Who are the standard setters in this regard? In my opinion, the fashion industry as well as the porn industry may take a bow. Both industries rake in a lot of money, and thus are committed to maintaining the status quo, which they do by constantly inundating the public with certain images and ideas on television, in magazines, and on the internet. Many television shows and commercials, magazine articles, and internet sites repeatedly convey the same message - that women can attain beauty (with the implication that only beautiful women have value) only via makeup, hair products, fad diets, and cosmetic surgery. Television shows such as The Man Show and magazines like Playboy or Maxim constantly strive to create a masculine ideal that is always in favor of the sexual objectification of women and girls.

They mock any man who dares to question their assertions regarding such narrow definitions of beauty or who does not appreciate the devaluation of women that is part and parcel of the porn industry. Wrath is communicated through open scorn for any woman who might resent the focus of these television shows or magazines. She must be a "prude," or they assume she, at the very least, is not in touch with her sexuality.

The only way to combat these pressures is to stop letting others frame the discourse! We can begin with the realization that what these entities portray as a sexual woman is actually just someone playing a part: dressing and acting in ways that the porn industry mandates as necessary for heterosexual men's sexual gratification. That most definitely is not equivalent to being a sexual woman! To be sexual, you must express your own sexuality, which means being and doing what feels authentically good to you. By authentically, I mean not only that which feels good in the moment, but that which will continue to give you pleasure later, when you stop to reflect on the night before, for example. This is very different from attempting to match another person's sexual fantasy, which may involve feelings of sexual pleasure now, but the later memory of which may cause one to cringe in embarrassment and self-loathing.

Some may think that I have deviated from my topic of why we continue to wear uncomfortable shoes and clothing, but to me, it is all part of the same package. As enlightened women (and men, for that matter!) who desire to grow as individuals and in relation to others, we must stop allowing others to define us, whether that entails the kind of shoes and clothes we wear, or what we do when we take them off.

The challenge is to shut out the clamor of the media long enough to hear our own voices, and to feel our own desires. Instead of just assuming that our societal conditioning has provided us with the best options (in shoes, sex, or any other area of life), why not try looking at the world around us with fresh new eyes?

Maybe, just maybe, our senses will surprise us by enjoying an approach to life that is more joyful and healthy, not just for ourselves, but for others as well.