Sunday, 15 May 2016

War on terra: why does the female foot maintain its battle-zone status?

First, congratulations to Nicola Thorp for her stance in wearing flat heels to work. Over the years, I have waxed much lyrical on the eternal tussle between fantasy and reality that is the female foot zone. With the coming of age of Birkenstock and Fit-flops, Ecco and Josef Siebel, I thought that comfort and rationality had finally triumphed. But in the past decade, the fictional Miranda Priestly waved a pair of stilettos under the nose of sensibly-dressed secretary Andie in The Devil Wears Prada (David Frankel, 2006) while only last year, actual movie stars stood firmly in jewelled flatties on the red carpet in Cannes, deaf to howls of media derision. This year, the spat between receptionist Nicola and her bosses has proved that this sartorial war on terra is alive and kicking. When will men/bosses/people in authority generally learn that high-heeled feminine shoes are not workaday items of dress? Stiletto heels do not lend themselves to eight-hour work shifts, book-ended by fraught, commuter commutes. They are for parties, first dates and award ceremonies – a trope that even the canny ladies of Cannes eschewed. Stiletto shoes fulfill a yearning, a daydream, an aspiration, being the sartorial equivalent of gothic vaults, gleaming skyscrapers and a soaring FTSE index. That is the fantasy; the reality is aching toes and ankles during active hours, with the long-term price of trudging into middle and old age with damaged knees and spinal cords, and corned, calloused and bunioned feet. Ladies, refuse to pay – today.

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