My Aching Feet
I am not a person who takes pleasure in the travails of others, really I’m not. But when I found out that Sarah Jessica Parker’s feet were a mess, a shudder of schadenfreude ran up and down my spine.
In her role as Carrie Bradshaw on HBO’s long running series “Sex and the City,” Parker schooled at least two generations of female consumers in the gospel of the four, five, or six inch heel. She made us believe that kind of altitude was essential to looking polished. Also, Carrie did not teeter neither did she totter; she made walking in those shoes look easy.
Carrie’s shoe mania was a running bit on the series, but I don’t recall anyone challenging or even joking about the dizzying height of her pumps, sling-backs and sandals. She did break a heel at least once, but Carrie never fell down or got knocked over, nor did she worry about being hobbled should she have to flee a dicey scene.
During her years as Carrie Bradshaw and ever since, Parker became a fashion icon. She gets front row seats at all the best runway shows and has appeared in countless magazine spreads as an exemplar of style. The towering shoes were part of the look; the perfect intersection of Carrie and Sarah Jessica.
But now Parker’s podiatrist informs her that her foot does things it shouldn’t be able to do. “That bone there,” he said. “You’ve created that bone. It doesn’t belong there.”
In a recent interview with Net-A-Porter Magazine, Parker blames her toesy woes on the less-than-Manolo-Blahnik-quality spikes she wore during a few months of filming the movie “I Don’t Know How She Does It.” She went cheap in solidarity with the character she was portraying. Kate Reddy, after all was based on a real person — a real person who apparently “could not afford really good footwear.” (Manolo Blahniks cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $600.) The lower priced shoes Parker settled for had plastic — as opposed to leather — bottoms and caused Parker to slip and twist her ankle.
“The moral of the story is, the chickens are coming home to roost. It’s sad, because my feet took me all over the world, but eventually they were like, ‘You know what, we’re really tired, can you just stop — and don’t put cheap shoes on us?’”
Price considerations aside, I have been biting my tongue about these devil shoes for 15 years. Who wants to sound like an old lady “She’s ruining her feet” or a scolding feminist, “As bad as foot-binding”? But I can’t hold it in any longer.
I never wore super high heels because 1) they hurt and 2) I look like a baby with a full diaper when I walk in them. Women who persist in spite of the pain and awkwardness generally wear sneakers to and from the office, or keep flip-flops tucked in their purse to enable a return of normal blood flow to the lower extremities. We all know they’re bad for us; but maybe the danger is part of the appeal?
I wish that SJP would start making public service announcements about the potential perils of vertiginous footwear. That’s not in the cards.
Her response is not to change elevation (although there is a photo of her in UGG boots floating around the internet). Rather, she has declared that she will eschew Payless and stick with Manolos from now on.
Too bad. With her star power and fashion platform, I might be able to find low-slung shoes that aren’t orthopedic, infantile, or just plain boring.
Also at WBUR Cognoscenti