When I was in my early twenties, I’d cringe when I’d see women rocking Crocs outside, like in actual public. This was coming from a girl who would put on a full face of makeup to make a run to Target. There was nothing sexy about any shoe that had less than a four inch heel. Boat shoes and oxfords made my vagina dry. How the hell could I strut down the street like I was Beyonce in “Crazy In Love” in a frigging pair of crocs?
But in the past few years I’ve realized something: The older I get, the more I’m beginning to cherish my own comfort. Life is too short and filled with too many awkward moments we’re obligated to endure, to force myself to suffer in my leisure. And ladies, a lot of you seem like you’re going through hell in these heels.
I fondly remember days of getting ready for the club feeling like the sexiest thing since Barry White and a bottle of Black Label in my five inch platforms which are a cake walk when you’re strutting a few feet across the bedroom. But after an hour of dancing, profiling and taking selfies in the bathrooms of the latest hot spot, most women’s heels end up in their hands, in the corner of the couch in VIP or left behind on a bus or taxi.
It got to the point where I was buying heels knowing damn well I wouldn’t (and couldn’t) wear them, but for some reason I couldn’t let go of the sexy they seemed to bring with them. But as I look around at women wearing wedges that have them looking for something to cling to after walking for a few minutes, or women in heels about to go down like Frasier with one false step, I realize there’s nothing sexy about damn near breaking your ankles. In fact in the effort to look sexy they end up looking anything but.
I feel like some of us feel obligated to be sexy at all times (hence the famous, “I woke up like this”). I witnessed a woman with open-toed platform stilettos at the movie theater last weekend. I’m not judging but why wear heels only to slide in popcorn butter and crushed M&M’s? I’m no feminist but we can’t allow ourselves to be fooled by the Instagrams of Evelyn Lozada or Tamar Braxton where it seems like they put away groceries in heels. What you won’t see are selfies of their swollen ankles or them taking those heels off as soon as the cameras stop rolling.
Sex appeal is not about risking your health so you can look like Kim Kardashian walking to the mailbox. It’s about the confidence and comfort in which you carry yourself and that can be done in a pair of Giuseppe’s or Jordans. Now don’t get me wrong, some women can run a marathon in platform pumps and not flinch, but I noticed the less I had to focus on looking for a free seat at every club when out with my girls or strategically planning how I could make my way from the bar to the bathroom without ending up on the floor, the more time I had to actually have fun and make memories even if my Instagram posts didn’t all look like potential Cosmo covers.
We all know the health hazards that can come from forcing our feet into the unnatural position of a platform pump day after day, but that doesn’t mean you have to clear them completely out your closet and surrender to a life of footwear that begins at Birkenstocks and makes the depressing descent into the orthopedic shoes of old age. I have heels that I’ve spent a little more money on and were designed with not just my sex appeal, but safety in mind. I’ve also become better at choosing my battles: the heels come out for fancy dinners with my man, weddings and even the office a few days a week. I learned to stop agonizing over putting a pump where a riding boot or cute and comfy sandal would do, because I could be sexy in one or the other. Consider where you’re going and what you’re doing for the day and dress appropriately. I’m all kinds of confused when I see woman struggling in stilettos pushing a stroller alongside two toddlers as they all run for the bus.
I think every young woman has to go through a phase in her life where she adopts the belief that beauty is pain, but with enough age and experience you begin to realize there are a lot of things in life worth suffering for, and a great selfie isn’t one of them. So the next time you find yourself doing “The Wobble” in your wedges even though the song isn’t playing, stop the struggle and pull out something you can actually walk in. I promise you, you’ll realize there’s more to life than planning your night around finding places to sit.
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.