Are you a fashion victim? These heels might just do you in
Marla Jo Fisher | March 19, 2014.
When women take off their shoes and complain that they’re killing their feet, they might be more correct than they know.
In the ancient Chinese custom of foot binding, once the height of fashion and sexiness, aristocratic women had their feet tied up tightly from childhood, to prevent them from ever growing larger.
On the downside, this resulted in women tottering around on tiny, deformed stubs that often required them to lean on someone to walk.
On the upside, bound feet were terribly arousing to men, as a sign of the woman’s superior breeding and grooming. Normal-size feet were considered gross and vulgar, fit only for a peasant.
Nowadays, we heap scorn on the memory.
Women would never allow their feet to be deformed just to be fashionable.
Or would they?
Ask the foot and ankle doctors who are busier than ever, thanks to movies and TV shows like “Sex and the City” that have glamorized the wearing of so-called “killer heels” that defy the laws of physics.
Frequent wearing of high heels can cause conditions like Achilles tendinitis, sending shooting pain from the heel up the back of the leg.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology reported that regular wearing of high heels shrinks a woman’s calf muscle fibers as much as 13 percent and thickens her Achilles tendon by 22 percent, sometimes making it painful to take off the heels and walk in flats.
And then there are bunions, sciatica and hammertoes – medical issues previously seen only in ballet dancers who spend too much time dancing en pointe.
Hammertoe, by the way, is an attractive condition where muscle injuries occur to toes bunched up under too much pressure. Mmm, sounds sexy, right?
We’re not even talking about what I call the “fashionista fail,” when women step on an obstruction as small as a pebble and go down as if they’ve been shot, spraining or breaking their ankles in the process.
“The problem is that, in going higher and higher, you are farther off the ground and it makes you more unstable, like walking on stilts,” said Dr. Robert Lee, a podiatric surgeon and assistant clinical professor at UCLA.
High heels were invented in the late 16th century and worn by European aristocrats, men and women, to make themselves look taller. In the French royal court, only aristocrats were allowed to wear them because of their special status.
But, in modern times, until recently, most women wore them only on dressy occasions.