On shoe fashion and foot binding

My Aunt Mary Jane had a 6′ tall personality but was only 5’2” so she wore high heels pretty much everywhere. Well, being a normal horse farm owners’ daughter, she rode and her riding boots were flat, but I’m pretty sure if you could get riding boots in 3” heels and ride without stabbing your horse in the side, she’d have worn them. She advised me to wear heels for the alluring curve it gives your calves along with a lesson in how to snap your legs as you walk which was supposed to produce some other man catching effect. I’d sit in my desert boots and faded blue jeans inwardly rolling my eyes and thinking, “if all this is going to net me men like the ones you reel in I’d prefer to be single.”

I entered college relatively early in the women’s lib movement and we were determined not to allow ourselves to be coerced into following fashion, especially not fashion that was designed to be appealing to men. Now even at the time I realized that the uniform of jeans and work shirts and no makeup that was acceptable had become the badge of conformism in the movement with its own version of fashion police to look disapproving if you wore loafers or shaved something. Since I considered nonconformism to mean not allowing anyone—not even other women’s libbers—to tell me what to wear or what I couldn’t shave I got disapproving looks a lot. But the excruciating pain of wearing high heels definitely made me a supporter of eschewing them.  By the time my aunt was In her fifties the pressure on the front of her foot from all those years of high heels had caused her toes to separate from her feet. She had to have surgery to wire her toes back to her feet! Trust me, that was more than enough to keep me away from heels.

That was thirty years ago and I’m looking at the current fashion in shoes and wondering what in the world happened. I’ll have a whole other post on the hooker fashion in general but for now, what is with the shoes?  Beyond setting feminism back a few decades in how we relate to men, 4” heels are so detrimental to physical well-being that they set us back decades on treating ourselves as worthy and lovable as the women we are—without the need to be embellished for sexiness. Really,women don’t mind the idea of having their toes wired back on later? Not to mention the bad impacts on ankles, knees, leg muscles, hips, backs…  We got rid of the chastity belts and the corsets and the hoops and now women still aren’t going to stand up for themselves and insist on fashion that’s also healthy?

In China it was a male hierarchy that imposed foot bindingon the women in order to control them. I don’t see spike heels that restrict movement and possibly

The ideal length for a bound foot was seven an...

Image via Wikipedia

destroy your feet as all that different from foot binding. And in this case women are imposing it on themselves. Back in the days of the desert boots and going bra-less we really didn’t see this coming… 

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4 thoughts on “On shoe fashion and foot binding

  1. Maybe it’s my being a product of the 60’s and an aging hippie that’s made me steer away from the high heeled, made up fashion type of women (bless their hearts). Or is it that I’ve always found women with mud on their on their boots real good company.


    • Thanks so much for saying that. Since I was a hippie, I often hear about the qualities that supposedly attract “all men” and feel bewildered as it doesn’t seem to describe the men I’ve known. I think the disclaimer is better coming from a man though so thanks for saying it. And from the other side the kind of man who wants a painted doll/trophy on his arm is not a guy I want either so the fact that they’re not attracted to a woman like me feels like it works out well for all concerned…


  2. I have a really wonderful sister-in-law. She is bright and funny and caring and is a fantastic mother to her daughters. She is also pretty as a picture with a figure to die for, but she has confidence issues where men are concerned. She was married for many years to a famous footballer and never let him see her without her hair done and her make-up applied! She too wears these very high heels and is a huge follower of fashion. Funnily enough although we are like chalk and cheese we get on so very well.

    I do think that so much of what women wear comes down to confidence. I know it wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties that I had the confidence to walk into town without make-up. Flatties rule in my house … and my feet say thank you!


    • You raise a good point that could be a whole other post. I guess the crux for me is that back when the women’s movement was in full force the movement brought some of us confidence to break free of that image stuff and I’m questioning how women have allowed it to move back to a place where the pressure is back towards having to look sexy to please men… Always enjoy your thoughtful comments!


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