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Paying for pain and suffering in style: the curse of the high heel

March 26th, 2009

I try to accommodate both males and females in my weekly topics, but this one is a bit different – this one goes out to the ladies.

With summer internship interviews, fun nights out and other events that called for dressing up, I’ve spent most of the last week in exceptionally tall heels. Glossy red pumps, printed wedges and black stilettos worked together this week to bring me many blisters and dire back pain.

And it got me thinking about all of the money we women spend on designer shoes, only to purposefully put ourselves in pain. One could argue that the key here is to purchase a pair of high heels that are stylish yet comfortable, but I would have to contend that such a shoe doesn’t exist. The words high heel and comfort simply don’t mix.

Pain is just something that women must endure to dress up. We’ve been raised to tolerate the blisters and the agony that comes along with our fashionable high heels – it’s what’s expected of us; a part of womanhood, if you will. So much so that women are now getting fat injected into their feet in order to continue wearing their adorable Jimmy Choo platforms or sexy Manolo Blahnik stilettos.

That’s right: There are podiatric surgeons who now offer aesthetic foot treatments like injectable foot cushions and even Botox treatments.

Sara Bouraee, a podiatric surgeon in Philadelphia, Pa., specializes in cosmetic foot surgery and “Facial for the Foot” treatments, according to her Web site, drsarabouraee.com. Bouraee offers surgeries that help women continue to wear their stylish high heels, including fat injections to the ball of the foot, shots of Botox to help with hammer-toe spasms and, for the true designer high heel wearer, the removal of foot bones to allow for a better fit in high-priced narrow heels.

Forgive me, but this just seems a little unreal to me. I can’t imagine turning to surgery simply for the sake of my pretty Steve Madden’s. But it comes back to this idea that it’s expected (the wearing of high heels, not surgery). As women, we are socialized into the idea that high heels are something that makes us attractive, a weapon of sorts. Just as a suit is vital to any business person, a high heel (sometimes dangerously high) is necessary to every woman.

Even as children, females dress up in their mothers’ high heels. When we are young, they are part of the magical world that is womanhood. They rank right up there with lipstick and skirts.

Yet, I have to wonder: Are we taking it too far? We all subject ourselves to podiatric distress in the name of womanly fashion, but when are we going too far?

I love my stilettos as much as the next girl, but blisters and Botox are two very different things. The blisters are worth it, but I’d rather opt for flats than put my feet under the knife. I would argue that when you reach the point of turning to bone removal, it’s time to ditch the fancy footwear and pull out the sneakers.