The High Heel Debate: True Health Hazard or Doable in Small Doses?

Oh glamorous Grandma Andrews, I can hear your voice now. “Suz,” she used to say, with a big nostalgic sigh. “I miss wearing heels.”

I was probably ten years old at the time, slipping my child-sized feet into her adult-sized Chanels. (If only I understood the meaning of the word vintage back then. If only I had a time machine now.)

But after a beat, grandma’s reminiscent tone would always turn cautionary. “They will hurt you. They will make walking hell. And eventually they’ll give you bunions and bruises, and eventually, you’ll have to wear ugly orthopedic shoes. Just like me.”

I had no idea what orthopedic meant, of course, but I did understand that her shoes were ugly. To the extreme.

“But,” she’d say, looking sheepishly side to side, making sure my mother didn’t hear the secret she was about to share. “For a good pair of pumps, it’s worth it.”

To this day, I believe this to be true. On what feels like a regular basis we hear reports of how harmful high heels can be. They can mess with your posture, put your spine out of whack, cramp up your toes, and tear up your tendons.

Most recently, the UK Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists warned of an arthritis epidemic, the direct result of poor pump choices and ill-fitting trainers.

So what’s a stiletto-loving, 4-inch-heel girl to do?

My opinion? Face facts and buy some Footzyrolls. These inexpensive, foldable flats are ingenious. They fit in your purse, so you can discretely take them with you to a party, wedding, job interview, etc. Or you can do what I did: keep a stash in your office drawer to slip on between important, I-feel-fiercer-in-Ferragamo corporate meetings.

Footzy RollsAnd the best thing about Footzyrolls is that they are super cute. Honest to God, when they are on your feet, it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between them and a pair of designer flats. My personal faves are the Snakeskins, which come in a variety of colors, all simple, all chic.

So the solution I offer to this harmful heel crisis is, essentially, to just deal. Torture your toes if it makes you happy, but do it in small doses.

Because nothing is going to stop a shoe-loving lady from wearing her beloved Bruno Maglis.

No study, no matter how painful the results, will convince me to trade in my Manolos for Mephistos.

However, unlike my amazing Grandma Andrews, we live in a time where there are stylish back-up options available to give our feet a break. Take advantage, I say.

I’m sure scores of podiatrists and doctors would disagree. But I’m not sure they know just how hard it is to break up a love affair between a shoe-obsessed woman and her favorite pair of Pradas.

And I’m no dummy. I know a time will come when I can no longer wear my Stuart Weitzmans. I understand that someday I may suffer from osteoarthritis.

So be it.

For now, while I still can, I will cram my feet into my favorite sky-high sandals and walk proud. For as far as I possibly can (and mind you, that may only be a few feet).

I’d like to think that my grandmother would be proud of the proactive approach women have taken to the age-old quandary of beat feet. If she were alive today, I’m sure there would be a stash of foldable flats stacked neatly, albeit discreetly, beside her Dior shoe drawer.