Real women wear comfortable shoes

By Dorothy Rosby, This and That
Posted 4/18/24

I didn’t see “Barbie,” but I was happy to learn that by the end of it, Barbie had gone from being a doll in high heels to a real woman wearing Birkenstocks. I don’t know what …

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Real women wear comfortable shoes


I didn’t see “Barbie,” but I was happy to learn that by the end of it, Barbie had gone from being a doll in high heels to a real woman wearing Birkenstocks. I don’t know what it took to get those iconic arched feet into more practical footwear, but the lesson is clear to me: Real women wear comfortable shoes.

April is National Foot Health Awareness Month and in honor of the new, real Barbie and other real women everywhere, I’m going to share the questions I ask myself before I buy shoes. Feel free to try them. The soles you save could be your own.

1. Just because the shoe fits, will I want to wear it? Long ago I wore what I affectionately call “dumb girl shoes” for special occasions. Dumb girl shoes balance the weight of the entire body on heels the size of number two pencils and arch from heel to toe like a roller coaster. My feet don’t do that so, whether or not the shoes fit, I didn’t want to wear them. I wound up taking off my shoes and spending the evening stocking-footed. Not only did that make a mess of my feet, it was also a real danger on the dance floor.

2. Could I walk a mile in these shoes? Better yet, could I run a mile in them? The answer to the latter is, probably not. I’m not sure I could run a mile in any shoe. But the point is, I not only want to be able to walk in my shoes, I want to be able to walk fast in them when I’m running late—which I often am. Feet are for walking and shoes are for feet. If I can’t walk in my shoes, I may as well use them for hammers.

3. Can I stand on my own two feet in them? I know women who wear heels so they can look taller. I understand. There are things I’d like to change about myself too. Fortunately, my height isn’t one of them. And it’s a good thing. If I wore high heels, I’d have to sit because my feet hurt. Then I’d really be short.

4. Would I fall head over heels for these shoes? I’m not speaking metaphorically. I read that in 2019, there were more than 16,000 emergency department visits involving high heels. Remarkably, that number fell to 6,290 in 2020 during the pandemic lockdown. That proves what I’ve known all along. I’m better off working at home in my bedroom slippers.

And falling isn’t the only danger of high heels. According to the American Osteopathic Association, high heels cause the feet to slide forward, squishing toes like pecans in a nutcracker, though I don’t think that’s the way they described it. High heels also redistribute weight incorrectly so that the body tilts forward, and we lean back and overarch our back to compensate. This strains our knees, hips, and lower back, but does look extremely attractive.

5. Can I put my best foot forward without breaking any body parts when I wear these shoes? I realize we can’t go around in sneakers all day every day. We shouldn’t wear them to weddings or job interviews. But shoes shouldn’t have to be dangerous to be presentable. The dangerous ones don’t always look that great anyway. I’ve seen high heel shoes that look more like decorative planters or large knick-knacks.

But if you really feel you want to toe the line when it comes to fashion consider this: Real Barbie traded in her high heels for Birkenstocks and she looks better than ever.