In Stumbling on Happiness, the author, Daniel Gilbert, talks in one of the chapters about the much publicized twins Lori and Reba Schappell, who are conjoined at the head (in addition, Reba has spina bifida). If required to imagine ourselves in the same situation and asked to predict how happy we would be in their stead, most of us would probably say we’d be horribly unhappy. Yet this is not the case if you ask the two twins (one of whom gained some notoriety as a country singer). They wouldn’t rate themselves as any less happy than any of us, in fact.
There is a lot to be said about that, and you’ll have to read the book for it, but one of Gilbert’s explanations is that Lori and Reba’s scales for happiness are in fact quite different from ours. So while our scale is, say,
theirs might look like this:
I was thinking about this recently–at the shoe convention, in fact–when one of the brand reps we met told us that comfort is relative. Or, to loosely paraphrase her, that the 4-inch heel that is hell for one woman is a walk through the clouds for another.
Excuse me, but I beg to differ. I simply think that the woman who trots around on her 4-inchers has a comfort scale somewhat similar to that shrunk-up happiness scale Lori and Reba most likely share.
I know it takes time, practice, even skill to walk competently in high heels. I’ve invested that time myself when I was younger, and got to the point where I had no problem walking in heels with narrow pointy toes–for all of 10 minutes, max. Needless to say, that didn’t take me very far before I started hurting. Ill-advised footwear choices like that made for several extremely painful trips home (brrr! I shudder to remember!) Still, I persisted, especially when my lifestyle allowed for the quick shuffle between home, car, work, or home, car, restaurant or some other evening entertainment spot.
So I do understand people like my dear, beautiful, smart friend down in California, who wears almost exclusively 3-inch stilettos to work, and has very little choice in matters of footwear in her wardrobe–it’s either the high-heeled pumps or a few flat sandals, and that’s about it. Here on the East Coast, where she would have to walk considerably longer, she’d probably kick those heels to the curb sooner or later. There, in a certain context, I can see how they can become an everyday habit, and while I don’t necessarily condone it, I can understand it.
My problem comes when these shoe choices (which as you may or may not know, may lead to serious foot and leg problems down the road) crop up in inappropriate settings. During our one-day trip to LA, during which we visited the Getty Museum and went down to the Grove, she wore these Kenneth Cole 3 1/2 inch wedges which, when confronted with my skeptically raised eyebrow, she swore were as soft as butter and as comfortable as a glove. Now, I do tend to favor wedges over heels any time of day, but these just about killed her by the end of the day. Not only was she in agony by the time we got back home, but she hurt the whole day next day and could barely suffer any shoes on her feet. In addition, her mood got progressively worse throughout the day–and who could blame her, when you are supported by two mounds of burning pain that used to be your feet?
I guess that’s when one needs to draw the line–at least, that’s when I do. When fashion choices turn into torture, both physical and mental, I simply see no reason to sacrifice my well being in order to cave in to some absurd fashion demands. Especially when there are fashionable choices out there that will make me purrrrr with pleasure while keeping me super stylish–such as these edgy Chloe double-buckled Mary Janes in a sinfully rich and luscious burgundy: