Heel thyself! (or maybe not…)

January 3, 2006 at 11:04 pm Leave a comment

I bought a pair of shoes yesterday. They look sorta like boots, except they aren’t. They have heels, which I don’t very often wear, but I thought they were really cute, and I wanted something nice to wear with jeans. So I bought them, and then I wore them to Starbucks this morning.

It hasn’t been a peaceful morning. I’ve been painfully aware of those shoes ever since I put them on. Of all things, my conscience is plaguing me about them.

My conscience plaguing me, you say? About a pair of shoes?

Yes. And, no, it’s not because I spent a lot of money on them. They were on sale, actually, so I spent very little money.

I think my conscience is acting up partly because of several articles I read online yesterday. Since I was thinking about buying boots, I was researching to figure out what I wanted, and I came across several fashion articles about boots. No less than three of the websites I saw described high-heeled boots as “sexy.”

Now, the shoes I bought yesterday definitely aren’t the same as the boots I saw described. But the thing that stuck out in my mind is that there are shoes that are sexy and shoes that are not. And I think it’s partly related to heels.

Part of that is advertising ploy, I know. People want to be considered sexy, so if a piece of marketing material describes a shirt, or a pair of pants—or even toothpaste, for goodness’ sake—as sexy, then people buy it, regardless of whether or not the product itself is actually sexy.

But then…while it might be partly marketing ploy to say something is sexy, part of it isn’t. I remember this point standing out to me very clearly a week and a half ago on Christmas Eve, when I went to church with my family. My cousin’s girlfriend was wearing heels. They were quite and strappy and…well, distracting. And I’m not even male.

I don’t know exactly what it is about heels, but I suspect those fashion articles were not lying when they suggest that heels have a certain amount of sex appeal. Not all heels, certainly. But definitely some.

Maybe it’s just that they make long legs look longer. Maybe it’s the crisp sound they make as a woman clicks across a tile floor. But whatever it is, there is something about heels that evokes…a bit of confident sass, maybe, or perhaps prowess. (If you don’t believe me, perhaps I could note the prevalence of boots/heels in pornography.)

Call me obsessive compulsive, if you wish, because I know heels are a tiny thing to point out in the midst of all the other (greater) issues involved in female dress. But I don’t think I’m making this up. Girls do choose shoes based on sex appeal, and something tells me it’s naïve to think men don’t notice.

Actually, I know, based on something said to me the week before Christmas, that men are aware of the power of heels to “break concentration.”

I was at work in the Writing Center on campus, where I am a student English tutor, and there were a few hours of downtime that afternoon when we didn’t have any students come in. I couldn’t concentrate on reading or doing anything productive, though, because I kept getting distracted every time I heard people walking down the hall past the Writing Center office. After one such person, who was apparently wearing heels, walked past the office, I made some comment to Jason, the other student tutor, about how hard it was to concentrate. Jason responded, “Yeah, but it’s more distracting for me than you, because I know that shoes that click like that mean it’s a female coming down the hall.”

A female coming down the hall, eh?

Of course, to be distinctly feminine is a good thing—a virtuous thing, to use an outmoded word. But somehow, I don’t think virtue is what distracted Jason in that anonymous female’s heels. His comment, I thought, was telling. And as I felt the added height of my shoes this morning, and heard them clicking across Starbucks’ tile floor, I wondered about it.

Wondered about my motivations in choosing my shoes. Wondered what my shoes were saying, in that language of clicks. Wondered if what they were saying was what I really wanted said about me.

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Profile

profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

Email me: jamie.kiley@gmail.com

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