Dear Women of Paris,
Do you eat morphine for breakfast?
(Maybe it’s hidden in the cigarettes?)
Because your feet, legs, back and brain must be absolutely NUMB to wear those high-heeled shoes all day long.
I’ve never been much of a “heel girl.” I think I wore the same pair of high heels exactly twice during my four years of college; once for a ridiculous costume night on the town, and the second time was for a school skit. Clearly, I was serious about my fancy shoes. These high heels were from high school prom — and hot pink.
It all started with my bright idea to show off my gorgeous (and by gorgeous, yes, I do mean they are just all black and leather and there is really nothing that spectacular about them) Alberto Fermani black leather handmade high-heel boots. Ever since I bought them off a friend’s thrift store finds, I had wondered about their actual worth. When I finally Googled my way into the world of ritzy Italian leather boots, I found the current equivalent of the boots in my possession to be priced at $675.
The proper response was probably to lock them in the wall safe we don’t have, but instead I chose to wear them. All day. In Paris. Beating my feet to death.
I ventured out confidently on a free museum Sunday in January, feeling oh-so-chic in boots that someone once paid more for than my own wedding dress. I managed quite well; nobody else would have known I wanted nothing more than to walk around barefoot for the remainder of the day.
This is how I now know that Parisian women are the best liars in the world. I also now understand why all the women stare at the ground while they walk; their cramping feet must not misstep. And don’t you dare try to explain to me that you have “comfortable high heels” — NO. Not only is that an oxymoron, but it’s also another lie; just because a high heeled shoe is more comfortable than another high heeled shoe does NOT mean they are, in reality, comfortable shoes.
I began to adapt to my new needs and problems. Oh, a bench? DIBS! Do not battle a high-heeled woman for a seat. I was prepared to heel stab the elderly and/or children for those coveted resting points. I would try to stay seated as long as possible wherever I was planted, feigning a fully engrossed fascination with my notebook. And to know my boots are but a dream to the women who torture themselves with stilettos and four-plus inches of height!
A (very small) part of me feels sorry for the French ladies gingerly taking every path of least resistance all over the cobbled and uneven streets of Paris everyday. And then I remember — nobody forces them to wear those shoes, let alone buy them! It’s hard to have empathy for someone who knowingly chooses to inflict pain on themselves and their bank accounts ($675 for leather to put on your feet?!). The chic shoe issue definitely applies to what my uncle says: “The French are slaves to aesthetics.”
(Therefore, DO NOT feel sorry for me. This was MY idiot experiment. Just learn from my experience. I know I have.)
After the first hour, my feet were basically finito, but I stayed out another seven hours, balancing my way through two museums, church, dinner and dessert. Then I had to walk home from our train station. Normally eight minutes. Always uphill.
As I winced my way home, all I thought was: my feet do not feel like $675.
I don’t care how nice a pair of high heels looks on the outside. If you’re walking any actual distance, pack some slippers to wear until you arrive at whatever destination where spiked feet are an entry requirement. Flat women’s shoes were invented, like, a hundred years ago. I encourage you to try them and find out what you’ve been missing (enjoyable walks, views of beautiful high buildings and trees, comfort, endurance, happiness, joy…a good life).
And as for my darling Alberto Fermanis? No, they are not for sale. They have, however, been relegated to limited minutes and sedentary activities. For the time being, they will look and feel much nicer on the shoe rack.
— Christy Swagerty
Christy Swagerty, “Swags,” is a Californian expat volleyball player and travel writer who has lived in Belgium, France and Germany. You can check out Swags’ ebooks, Four Years in Paris and 8 Steps to Move Abroad Now, her expat adventures at www.whatupswags.com, and connect with her via @whatupswags on Twitter and Instagram.