Every girl learns, at a relatively early age, that shoes are important. I remember a day long before my teenage years where I was gifted with three long, fabulous wigs (the pink was my favorite, it made me feel like Jem) and a set of play high heels. Forget a magic wand -- these shoes had POWERS. Ever since, I've bowed to the allure of the heel, the platform, the peeptoe, and, god-help me, the studded slingback.
Until now. After a period of near lifelong servitude at the altar of pain, I made a gut-wrenching decision (sorry, wait, that was just my bowels talking -- the decision was actually an easy one). I'm DONE hurting my feet to achieve some warped idea of beauty. Hell, I've already set my Spanx on fire and shorn my locks -- how hard could this step be?
More from The Stir: Sky High Heels Make Us Feel Sexy as Hell & Now We Know Why
As it turns out, very. You'd think my natural predisposition against painful footwear (any discomfort, really -- static cling can send me into a rage) would have made going comfortable or going home easy as pie. But while the decision made sense, putting it into practice was a process, yo.
My feet are basically skinless. If they were a made for T.V. movie, they'd be Boy in the Plastic Bubble. But only the final scene. When he leaves the bubbles and melts into a screaming pile of skin. Truth: I have never seen that movie, y'all, I'm guessing.
I'm pale and sensitive and nowhere is that more plainly seen than in my feet. I watch girls teetering around on stacked stilettos and think, every single time, "There is something wrong with me, because I would have hurled myself in front of the train by now in those."
I look at a cheap pair of heels and erupt into blisters. I consider an espadrille and suddenly I'm bleeding everywhere. Easily the so-called "comfortable" shoes rip the flesh from my bones like some sort of unsexy sadist.
Shoes have ruined my life. At the premiere of a play I wrote, I should have been fretting about how the audience would react. Instead, I was obsessed with figuring out just how many diseases I'd contract walking to the train barefooted. Turns out just one -- but it was a whopper.
My mom tried foisting sensible footwear on me time and time again. But I saw something unflashy and flat as akin to "giving in." Weren't heels supposed to be giving me the confident strut of a "real woman"? Tell that to my bare ass, exposed on the train when I tripped over the offending heels, revealing my private flower garden to the world. There is no amount of confidence to ameliorate that situation.
I'll never forget the first time I put my feet in a pair of Dansko clogs -- willingly. I was practically yowling like a cat being forced into a bubble bath. I was all, "DO NOT WANT." A fellow shopper saw me venturing tentatively around the store in these practical, comfortable, perfect shoes. She shook her head. "There's no going back now." It sounds ominous -- but it was uttered with a grin.
I feel sexier now than I ever felt in my 20s. It's strange but true. The confident swagger I worked so hard to achieve by torturing my body is a thing easily managed when I'm able to run and catch a train, or bustle down the street to my next engagement without fear, pain, or anxiety. Does my new love of Dansko shoes now mean that Amazon occasionally thinks it needs to recommend orthopedic sandals for my enjoyment? Totally. But it's a small price to pay for feeling like I've finally achieved true, real lady hotness.
When was the first time you felt like you really discovered your self-confidence?
Image via © Dave and Les Jacobs/Blend Images/Corbis