Sole Survivor: The Health Dangers Of Wearing High Heels

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After a three-decade love affair with high heels, I am calling it quits. Blame (or credit) my last pair of tacones: six-inch black suede booties from a certain French designer, which I bought in a trendy Manhattan store. When I tried them on, the shoes looked amazing and felt great. I plunked down a few hundred dollars and decided to walk home, a leisurely 10-block city stroll. One block from the store, the heel went one way, my ankle another and I found myself holding onto a shocked stranger, who inadvertently saved me from landing on a pile of dog poop.  

I was embarrassed but glad that my ankle was not sprained. The heel, however, broke in two and the experience inspired a little research experiment: I visited more than a dozen shoe retailers, from small boutiques to large stores, and discovered that shoe designers—99 percent of them males—must hate women. If not, why is the average heel height six to seven inches, a vertical incline so dangerous and insensible that some doctors are calling for heels to come with warning labels? As proof, just last year a New York City woman reportedly died after tripping down a flight of stairs in her apartment building. Cause of death: extreme stilettos. 

And while most women recognize that high heels are bad for them, that doesn’t prevent millions from rocking sky-high gems. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, almost 40 percent of women wear heels on a daily basis. I was one of those women, having amassed a highly curated shoe collection ever since buying my first pair of heels as a teen: four-inch-high snakeskin stilettos I wore to my high school prom (it was love at first dance!). 

So deep was my passion for heels that rather than rush home after work to take off my YSL Tribute sandals, I cooked in them. Heels to me represented power and style and gave my petite 5-foot-3 frame a lift that made me feel Amazonian—I even walked with more certainty and attitude. But now I am over them.

Read about the health hazards of heels on page 2 >>>

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