One muggy Washington, DC day my close friend tried to teach me how to walk in heels. I was days away from the Miss Tall International Pageant and decided it was high time to learn to shimmy and bounce with the best of them.
“Are you okay?” my friend asks, concern etching her brow a couple minutes into our lesson.
“Um, yeah, why?” I ask and pause for a second. We are outside near 14th Street.
“Because you look like you are in pain.” She gives me a quick imitation of how I am walking and I grimace. Dear God. If that’s how I look, I am screwed for this pageant. To note, the walk she shows me is a cross between a 70’s pimp and someone with a torn ACL.
“My legs are starting to shake,” I admit and lean against a tree. We stop the lesson early. I did manage to make some progress but it was not enough to make me feel totally confident during my impending formal gown walk. I ended up going with 2″ inch kitten heels instead of the 3.5″ strappy dress heels I intended to wear.
I used to tell myself I didn’t wear heels because they always hurt. Then I discovered that the pain was really due to my “investment” in cheapness. I used to tell myself I didn’t wear heels because a size 13 were a hard pair to find. To believe this particular story, I had to pretend that websites like Barefootess and Zappos and name brands like Franco Sarto didn’t exist. I told myself my boyfriend couldn’t hear me properly with all those additional inches between us. To pull this off, I conveniently forget that he honestly doesn’t care what my footwear is and he can hear me just fine.
My excuses were mostly lies. Very carefully constructed and pretty cute, but lies nonetheless. The truth was that I believed that a 6’3″ woman like myself had no business wearing heels. I believed all those unsolicited opinions from strangers and friends who told me I would be too tall and that “I didn’t need the extra help.” The truth was that I didn’t think my body had the right to take up even more space.
I’ve worn heels every once in a while, but more often then not, I will stick to the comfortable and humane. I am someone who likes to walk fast and far after all. However, I do want to know how to walk in heels without my legs going into panic. I do want to give my body permission to be more of who she is. I do want to rock cute shoes. And so…
For the next 30 days, I will wear heels from 2″ to 5″ in public for at least 20 minutes a day. I will progress an inch a week, so starting tomorrow it’ll be 2″. From 6’5″ to 6’8″. What will happen? Will I fall on my face? Have bizarre encounters with people? Develop calf muscles of titanium? Let’s find out shall we?
To the highest heights,