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Blog post – Walking in Heels

I’ve never been able to walk in high heels. Rarely does the powerful click clack of sex and glamour resonate in my wake. I can’t even cope with a kitten.

Of course I tried that kind of femininity on for size for a period in my youth, as most of us do. There’s that right of passage, the first time we sneak into our mother’s wardrobe and trial our little feet in those giant, cartoonish courts. We realise right then how uncomfortable they are, but for some reason we persevere. I gave heels another go in my late teens – I’d managed to conquer a pair of sky-high bright white trainer-wedges, a la The Spice Girls, the previous year. So, I had high hopes. But of course, we all know wedges don’t count as a true heel, and my trainers were certainly not a true test of my walking ability. After wearing a pair of not-even-that-high sandals from Select for my 18th birthday jaunt to Pizza Hut, the next morning I vowed never to wear heels again.

I just can’t seem to physically master them. I read a hilarious piece in The Telegraph about a journalist – struck with the same affliction – who was sent to some terrifying woman’s class on how to walk in heels. I mean, there’s a class in everything isn’t there. This woman apparently wore high (high) heels all the time. Everywhere. Well, obviously she’s insane. And no doubt now riddled with back problems. Anyway, it made me wonder if a class of that ilk would have any impact on me. But I fear it would be futile.

In theory I should have the genetic equipment to walk in heels quite competently. My sister owns more than 200 pair of shoes. Yes, 200. They consumed our verandah in a slow painful suffocation, before spreading their chaos throughout the rest of the house. She used to go to work in them. The library. The dentist. She’d never consider going on a night out in a pair of flats. Heels are just in her psyche. And she didn’t need any pricey training sessions to show her how to walk. Here’s a flesh and blood relative who can function normally – glamorously – in a pair of stilettos. Surely I can follow in her footsteps?

But whenever I try I just look like Tina Turner gone wrong. And nothing works – plasters, gel cushions, only walking on carpets, being drunk – I’ve tried them all. Unfortunately I can’t afford to pay someone to walk around with a carpet in front of me all the time. So I have to ask myself, is it that I can’t walk in high heels? Or that I won’t?

I was reminded of this little failure of mine the other week, when I started reading a book said sister lent me: How to be Parisian. There was a line in it that touched a nerve, “What you won’t find in the Parisienne’s closet – three-inch heels. Why live life halfway?”

Well – what’s wrong with being comfortable? And not just in shoes – in your own skin?

It pains me to admit that I’m actually bothered that I can’t strut to the shops – how ridiculous, it’s just a pair of shoes after all. But that’s the thing, it’s not about the actual shoes – a heel represents much more. Sex! Power! Glamour! That’s what a pair of heels screams. Then there’s me, plodding along in my Clarkes boots and coming up short (literally). All in all it makes me feel rather inadequate, like I’m missing a major string in my bow. Killer heels are weaponry in a girl’s arsenal. -whether that’s power in attracting a mate (because that’s what heels are designed to do when it comes down to it – display your childbearing hips). Or whether it’s power in securing a high-flying job (assuming most high-flying jobs are male dominated and you’ve got to try and attract one with your childbearing hips…)

And then of course there are the rest of us, apparently not in high-flying jobs or a bearer of children, jealous spinsters unable to master the skill of walking. And we think, well actually it’s all very well looking especially lengthy-of-leg and being tall enough to look boardroom suits in the eye, but – aren’t you a bit of a slave to that shoe? That’s a friendly torture device you’re strapped into there. And you’re endorsing it. Suffering. You are in actual pain.

Of course, I’m being way too serious here (that’s flat heel wearers for you). I agree, I could accurately be accused of taking the fun right out of shoes. Because I can see that they are a bit of fun for a lot of people. They make us look good. They give us confidence, even if that confidence is based around men and hurts us in the process.

I’d much rather be comfortable. As long as I’m not getting too comfortable… Maybe I’ll sneak into my sister’s wardrobe the next time I see her, try walking in her shoes for a moment or two.

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Is it me, or are today’s men increasingly choosing to dress in women’s clothes?

I don’t mean cardigans (sorry, mardigans), the odd man-bag, or even skinny jeans. I’ve accepted and adjusted to these additions to the general male wardrobe, just about.

I’m talking about actual women’s clothes, made for women to fit a woman’s body – sheer blouses, deep v and scoop neck tops, leggings, neck scarves, harem pants and embellished thong sandals.

Why God, why? Or rather, why fashion designers and high street retailers – why?

Cut it out – it’s not funny anymore, you may not have noticed but the men are taking it seriously! The average British male is just too damn lazy a shopper to actually think about what it is they are buying. They blindly trust you.

So, I implore you – give us our men back!!!
Let me be clear here. My beef is not with the hipsters (although they did start this). They are a law unto themselves, a weird closed species, and who knows in which unattractive way they will asset their ‘individuality’ next.

My concerns are the impact this movement is now having on the common man. And, in result, common woman. Common, persevering, patient (too patient) woman. This is just yet another thing she has to put up with.

Our men are visiting the high street, a couple of times a year at most – very much out of their comfort zone, and often confused. With this recognised reality in mind, men’s fashion departments in the UK are limited at the best of times. This suits them! They just want to get out of there as soon as, with a few clothes to last them for the next six months.

The fashion industry, it seems to me, are preying on this vulnerability, offering up an assault of flimsy cleavage revealing blouses, jeans that bulge in a madcap, mind boggling manner (phones, wallets – just jutting out like a horrendous utility belt for the thighs, whilst simultaneously reducing the sperm count of our male population) alongside jewellery – actual jewellery – and more. There are shoes that surpass the slight repulsiveness of flip-flops and hurtle full throttle into what can only be described as ladies sandals.

What next? Are you going to have them wearing bras? This must stop!

Don’t get me wrong – it’s encouraging that men are accepting and flaunting their feminine side, publicly, in making this effort to be more…erm…adventurous about the way they dress; something typically accepted to be the domain of women. It’s flattering I suppose, that men want to wear what we do; they must think it looks good. And yes, it does – on women!

In this lies, for me, the real horror and just plain confusion about this trend: why are men, straight men, Dads, dressing as if they have female bodies?

I accept that all this is nothing especially new, really – as ever the case in the world of fashion. Our men are blindly recycling practices of old. Look at the New Romantics, Bowie and Jagger before, and before all that – European men of the 1800s, for whom dressing ‘effeminately’ in decorative shirts and stockings was the norm, a sign of status and wealth – a sign of manhood.

But these men, 17th Century society aside, were demonstrating their allegiance to distinct social groups in the way they chose to present themselves. Very much like our modern day hipsters, they were making their mark through fashion.

In recent times, these feminine styles have spread to the masses. Hence now our nice, plain dressing, no funny business, comfy sweater men (who we know and love, even if we don’t want to admit it) are striding around, albeit bandy-legged, in bottoms fit for the Royal Ballet and tops reminiscent of Shirley Bassey cast-offs.

Surely it’s got embarrassing now? Someone must take a stand and say something.

I suppose some women must like it, surely? Otherwise the men wouldn’t keep doing it… But I ask you – who are these women?

Are we all just too embarrassed to bring it up in order to avoid hurting the feelings of modern man? Has this started a chain reaction amongst all young women in modern society, cumulating in the myth that we all like our men to look like us?

If this is the new face of modern equality, I find myself sorely disappointed.

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