Changeover challenge

In Book, Shoes on May 6, 2011 at 6:00 pm

As promised last week, here is a taster from my new book Style Notes. In bookshops now – and the perfect Mother’s Day gift ha ha ha.

It is available outside Australia via the internet, although I’m not going to suggest one  particular site, for fear of offending all the others! Please Google it.

As I said last time, I did the chapter-heading  illos inside – but not the gorgeous ones on the cover. Thanks to the very clever Emily O’Neill for them. 



Local authorities in large cities should be obliged to provide shoe changing cubicles for women. Standing on one high heel, on a hard surface, while you try and cram on the second shoe, is a highly dangerous activity. Surely health and safety standards demand that comfortable seating be provided for it?

Also a hook for your handbag, so you don’t have to leave it on the ground during the shoe changing manoeuvre. This is a security issue, as it would be very hard to pursue a handbag thief while wearing one high-heeled shoe. Providing this simple amenity could instantly reduce the crime rate.

There are also clearly broader security issues for the greater public safety. If you think about the number of women you see – especially around 5.30pm near any business district – leaning against a wall changing their shoes, with bags littered on the pavements around them. Who is to know which bags belong to innocent shoe changers and which might contain an Improvised Explosive Device? The shoe changing cubicles could have bag checks with x-ray equipment and possibly sniffer dogs.

Most of all, though, providing adequate shoe changing facilities is a human rights issue. It’s extremely damaging to the self esteem to have to change your shoes in public. In some cultures it is considered highly offensive to show someone the soles of your feet. According to our own social mores, it’s devastating because everyone knows you can’t hack it full time in the heels. It’s humiliating. Your status as a woman is in question.

The other thing they clearly need to put on the statute books is a service of free osteopaths, who could operate in booths next to the shoe changing cubicles. These are obviously necessary due to the crucial woman hours being lost to back and neck pain caused by carrying very heavy handbags, containing the other pairs of shoes.

The recent availability of roll-up and folding ballerina pumps, specially designed for the mandatory double-shoe commute has alleviated some of the handbag weight. But as the bag is only lighter while the more challenging shoes are on the feet, this advantage is offset by the catastrophic effect on the spine of walking in high heels.

Perhaps the shoe-changing cubicles could also include a range of vending machine offering pain killers and a selection of podiatory requisites. Obviously the osteopaths would offer a complimentary foot massage after each spinal realignment.

Another way the government could combat the increasing problem of shoe-related female physical and mental health issues would be to provide adequate education in the area. It really is quite shocking that walking in high-heels is not on the junior school curriculum.

Studies have shown that women who do ballet from a young age find it much easier to walk in high heels in later life, so introducing the subject of walking on the balls of your feet in kindie makes obvious sense. Complimentary courses in bunion management and corn care can be introduced at the high school stage.

Another area where health policy is really slacking is in offering an adequate array of foot plastic surgery options. Toe lengthening for a more attractive sandal foot and the removal of the unnecessary ‘little’ toe, which senselessly restricts the range of shoes many women are able to wear, should all be freely available on Medicare.

Once these measure are in place, the next stage would obviously be a system of ‘walkers’. This could be a very useful way to get the long-term unemployed back into the workforce. They could be collected from pens on street corners, next to the shoe-changing booths, and be used to be lean on while negotiating kerbs, stairways and that tricky first escalator step.

If none of these proposals are adopted we will have no choice but to stop wearing ridiculously uncomfortable high-heeled shoes we can’t actually walk in without experiencing searing discomfort and ruining our feet.

What a ludicrous idea.



  1. My book which I ordered on line has already been delivered. Look forward to reading and, in some cases, re-reading the always humorous and informative chapters. So delighted to find your weekly Style Notes blogs which are delivered to my Inbox.

  2. LOL! THIS is why I don’t wear the dern things anymore. Not because I’m toting baby, baby paraphernalia, school bags, unspecified other crappola across playground surfaces of sand/woodchip/grass etc. Oh please be in my Mothers Day stocking tomorrow. I’ve been a good mother all year (mostly)

  3. Hahah! Great post!

    I have given up on high heels. I’ve just had a toe injury (caused by conservatively high heels) fixed by a chiropractor and he showed me the bones of the foot in the skeleton in his office and it freaked me out. I did human biology in high school but I wasn’t wearing heels back then, so lacked the necessary context. High heels ruin your feet, because your feet aren’t made to wear heels. When I’m in my 50s and 60s (and beyond) I want to hike around Switzerland. I won’t be able to do that if I persist with heels in my 30s and 40s. It’s not worth it.

  4. So I got the lovely boots with (moderate) heels. And then I walked around in them all day for two days.

    On the third day I went out and bought some new wave desert boots. What a difference!

    I suffered from plantar fasciitis during my pregnancies and I never want to experience that pain again. Following the agony of my new boots, I am resigned saving heels for special dinners which involve a minimum of walking and standing.

  5. Oh Maggie, I just laughed so much! I’m devoted to my heels, but as my Mother is about to have major foot surgery, I’m realising I need to give them up every day, saving them for special occasional. It really doesn’t help that as a recreational dancer, I also do all my exercise in heels.

    However I’m completely of the opinion that high school curriculums need to include walking in heels. The number of girls I see tottering past makes me want to slap them and tell them not to leave the house till they can walk properly in their shoes.

    And, Trish, you need not worry about giving up your heels to go hiking. A family relative is a relatively well known entertainer in Germany. After a huge number of years in stilettos, her calf muscles have shortened to a point where she can no longer stand comfortably flat on the ground. So she simply had heels added to her hiking boots. Problem solved!

  6. Heals are not for me. I like the freedom of walking unfettered by heals. I wear flats 100% of the time.

  7. I can’t wait to get hold of your new book.

  8. Hooray for you! I always think we should listen to whoever said “if high heels are so great, men would be wearing them”. More flatties, that’s what we want!

  9. ummm, so where can I get those gorg red stripy heels pictured ( sorry, I promise to save them for special occasions)

  10. The ballet I did in my youth obviously gave me the ability to balance on high heels, but it also gave me the bunions which make wearing many shoes uncomfortable after a short period. I only wear heels to sit down in. If I have to walk anywhere it’s flats all the way.

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