Friday, 5 November 2010

Time to put our foot down

It seems to me that human footwear is an area that has not attracted enough research attention. Of course, I may be mistaken, and there may already be some outstanding PhD theses on the subject out there. But I think it’s time for something more, the kind of research that can only be directed by a fully-fledged institution, and I have a modest suggestion for its name: the ‘Imelda Marcos Footwear Fetish Foundation.’

The starting point for its research would be a question that’s always intrigued me, ‘why high heels?’

Obviously, we happily married men simply don’t notice attractive women in the street. That is, if we want to stay married happily, or perhaps even married at all. Nevertheless, it has occasionally happened to me that I’ve caught a passing glimpse of a woman who might, in the eyes of another less self-disciplined man, be regarded as looking pretty good. It seems to me that absolutely nothing is added or taken away from her allure by adding one, three or even six inches to her heels. I mean, if you look like Carla Bruni or Yulia Tymoshenko, you don’t need high heels to make you look better. And if you look like Anne Widdecombe or Angela Merkel (both of them lovely ladies in so many other way), doing something about your heels smacks of forlorn hope.

In any case, since I suffer from the Nicolas Sarkozy vertically-challenged syndrome, I’d never recommend a woman making herself any taller than she naturally is. A woman who towers over me is simply intimidating. Or, since we’re talking about women, perhaps I should say even more intimidating.

In any case, the women themselves seem to find high heels hard to handle (or is the verb footle?). I happened to be walking down the street behind a woman the other day, with my eyes properly lowered, which meant that I was looking directly at her shoes. I reckon the heels were about three inches high (7.5 cms for those of you who insist on using a sensible measuring system instead of our quaint one. Reason preferred over quaintness! I ask you. No wonder romance is dying).

Anyway, this woman was positively wobbling at every step. She clearly wasn’t at all stable on those heels, and no wonder: who would be? That’s without taking into account the virtual impossibility of ever running or the fact that a simple grid becomes an obstacle as impassable as the Hindu Kush. To say nothing of the fact that our backs are our weakest areas, no doubt a reflection of the fact that we’re really not designed to walk upright, and in so far as we’re designed to walk upright at all, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it, that the heel is intended to rest on the ground? God knows what those three-inch heels were doing to that poor woman’s back.

So it comes as no surprise to see more and more women travelling into work in superbly elegant power suits, over trainers. Talk about incongruous. Gucci with Nike. Presumably the to-die-for tiny leather shoes with the elongated heels are in her handbag, ready to be slipped on, perhaps in the lift (sorry, elevator for those of you who prefer the colonial term) up to her office floor,

More amazing is the fact that more and more men are doing the same. Fine silk ties, crisp white shirts, natty grey suits. And trainers. Presumably the smart but painful black shoes are in their laptop bags.

So here’s the question for the Foundation to investigate.

Call me excessively pragmatic, but since the use of trainers suggest that there’s an increasing acceptance that it’s both more practical and more comfortable to wear flat shoes than to go for high fashion, and above all high heels, why do we cling onto those strange instruments of torture? After all, no doubt under pressure from the husband who gave his name to Sarkozy syndrome, Carla Bruni keeps her soles flat on the ground.

She doesn’t look any the worse for it, does she?


Mark Reynolds said...

I think the institution for the job may already exist:

David Beeson said...

Ah, trust the Canadians to come up with the kind of contribution to world culture that others so flagrantly neglect. Wonderful.