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Glass Ceilings and High Heels

A wag once wittered that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels. I was reminded of this quote a few weeks ago, while watching the Inauguration.

I thought of it again when the Bernie meme hit social media. It was a COLD Inauguration. The noon day temperature was 42 degrees with wind gusts up to 28 mph, and Bernie dressed accordingly.

The men wore long coats and trousers, probably thermal lined for added warmth. Many women dressed warmly in long coats but were clad in nylons and heels.

Women have scaled new heights in cracking the glass ceiling, but must we do it painfully shod? As the Inauguration procession walked from the motorcade to the White House, high-heeled Dr. Biden valiantly kept up with her long-legged husband as he strode along, occasionally darting over to the crowd to greet the onlookers.

I wondered; what if a woman dared dress as Bernie did that day? Would she be applauded for dressing sensibly, or would the gossip columnists have a field day? An avid royal follower, I wince as Meghan and Kate talk of equal rights and championing women, while tottering around in stilettos.

I recall the tennis-shoe trend of the 80's where women wore trainers all the way TO their place of employment, but donned heels when entering the workplace. Did they feel their jobs demanded they hobble around, damaging their feet and backs while making deals and conducting business? Have we convinced ourselves that we can only be powerful and attractive at the cost of our bodies?

Besides producing immediate pain and blistering, heels can cause long term damage to the body. They can lead to arthritis, calf issues, chronic knee pain, hamstring issues, hip problems, and back pain. Tall stiletto heels shove the foot forward, pressing it into the pointy toes and cause bunions and hammertoes. While walking in high heels women sometimes break their ankles.

The media does not help. The popular long-lasting TV show Sex and the City featured a character whose prized possessions were her stilettos. Even Dorothy had to clump down the yellow brick road, run through fields of poppies and battle witches, wearing ruby-red pumps.

I am reminded of the Chinese custom of foot binding. Taken up by the court ladies of the 10th century, the habit continued until the 19th century. Women’s feet, some three, or four inches long were considered beautiful. Research will explain how this length of foot was achieved. Thankfully, times changed.

I am so very proud of what women have accomplished in the past and continue to accomplish.

I just wish we could do it in comfortable shoes.


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