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Feminist Footwear Advice From 1930

Illustration for article titled Feminist Footwear Advice From 1930

In this article from Physical Culture, a man writes that the next step in women's emancipation should be to ignore the new trend toward high heels and find a "non-barbaric form of footwear."


In the magazine, the "middle-aged gentleman" recounts sitting in Central Park and watching women hobble by in these newfangled monstrosities. He wonders:

Will the day ever come when this last citadel of fashionable distortion of the [female] body will be captured and razed, and when women will get over the notion that there is beauty to be achieved by wearing on the foot a leather harness designed expressly to throw it out of position, destroy its beautiful mechanical efficiency, cripple it in and out of action, and make it look from in front as much as possible like a hoof?


As it has been 80 years since this article was written, we're guessing the answer is "not anytime soon." [Modern Mechanix]

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I have mixed feelings about heels. I have very high arches and can't wear shoes that are either entirely flat, or very arched, without getting arch and heel pain. I'm a big walker, from NYC originally, so comfortable walking is a big thing for me.

I also grew up during grunge so my gauge for "hot" footwear is somewhat skewed...I still docs and stompy maryjanes are the bees knees. I've lately become interested in Fluevogs, because I hear they're THE heels for people who hate heels...and I like the quirky quality of their design.

That said, footwear is personal I don't think anyone is a tool of anything for wearing heels. But I do think it's strange to wear shoes that uncomfortable and that have been proven to cause foot, ankle, and knee damage, for extended periods of time. Low heels don't have this problem, but elevating the back of the heel does in fact put strain on your joints, muscles, and even your back. Sorry. I just can't do that. Nor could I deal with the hammer toes and corns and stuff my Nana had because of the pointy heels she always wore.

This is not to say I wander around in nurse shoes. But it has to be practical. And I don't think there's anything wrong with pointing out that in many culture women's feet and footwear has been designed to immobilize them and put them at risk. Certain kinds of heels (also true of flats and other shoes that don't offer support or ways to effectively stay on) are, you know, an issue. Just look at all those runway models falling.

For me, my shoe logic goes something like this: Could I run away from zombies in them? No? Oh well, back they go.