Falling Off My Shoes


It's the allure of high heels that makes the Sex in the City gals go nuts over a pair of Ferragamos.

Small animals and children risk puncture wounds if they get in my way.  Men who get on the wrong side of these pumps risk injuries I won’t even descibe.  And women run  the risk of back injury, injury to the small bones in their feet, and being crippled for life.


Never mind.  

Being part of the sexy pack, we wear such outrageously high shoes that we'll choose self-harm over being caught flat-footed.  

Most women, by age 40, have developed severe enough foot problems that the intervention of a doctor is needed.  Many know the risks and dangers; doctors tell them repeatedly about bunions and bone spurs.  Even after surgery and soaking, we can’t wait to pet the dog that bit us.  A woman recently told me that it was “painful to wear flat shoes” as her feet were “used to high heels”.  Foot surgery was only 3 weeks behind her when she wore boots with 3 inch heels.  She wasn’t just petting that dog, she covered herself in Alpo and unchained him.

Nevertheless, there’s nothing as sexy as a woman in heels.  (Those NASCAR babes draped across the front end of a modified Ford Pinto ain’t wearin’ Easy Spirits).  Legs look longer, toner, shapelier.  Some outfits scream for the lift of a couple of inches.  You won’t catch me arguing about the health risks, maybe because the worst of the height passed me by.  When it comes to high heels, I, for one, miss wearing them.

I used to joke, back in the days when I wore m.s. invisibly, that as long as I was able to wear heels, all was right with my world.  Though my world looks different a couple of decades later, that’s still my story and I seem to be sticking to it.   I’m abetted by everyone around me (except the podiatrist).  The Empress has no clothes, but nobody says a word.   In  my line of work, or any other I suppose, there’s an inherent hierarchy so I could look like that Empress and my clients would never tell me the truth of it.   Honestly?  I don’t know that anyone would tell me what I don’t want to hear.  Except the podiatrist and I pay for the right to ignore him.

Sometimes, when I’ve been walking past a display of spy cameras in Sam’s Club, I catch my image.  Even worse is the image I see way up on the ceiling of a bank or grocery store.  Who is that woman?   Honestly, there hasn’t been a time when surprise wasn’t my reaction.  “This is how people really see me?” I’ll ask myself.  “I’m just having a bad hair day.”  The realization is embarrassing, but, like when my mom put pepper on my thumb to keep me from sucking it, the unpleasantness isn’t great enough to stop me.


You could win money betting on me to fall off my shoes.  And yet I buy them and wear them.  Not really high ones (though one pair is dicey), but high enough.  Smart as I am, I must think that dragging a high heeled foot is sexy.  Maybe that’s what the guy thought when I tripped on my office rug and landed, head first, in his lap.  Where  was the pepper then?

When chronic illness or disability mess with the image and expectations we have about and for ourselves, I figure we’ve earned a bit of delusion.  I would not ever chose to know all that is actually happening to me, cognitively and physically, as I age and progress; I know enough, every day.  There are enough changes, subtle and dramatic.  How I have always defined myself is continually threatened; the reality is too stark to face. 

David, my husband, says I’m sexy (I have to ask him first) but if I knew it for myself would I have to ask?


This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.