Tuesday, May 15, 2012

High Heels and Sex Appeal

By Diana Hsieh

I've never been a fan of high heels. I used to wear wide two-inch heels on rare special occasions -- meaning, a few times per year. I'd be happy to do that now, except that my Morton's neuroma (inflamed nerve in the ball of my right foot) begins to scream and holler after just a few minutes in heels. Even without that problem, I can't imagine wearing heels on a regular basis: to enhance my rear lines at the price of destroying my feet, ankles, knees, hips, and back seems like idiotic trade-off to me. In my view, if you're destroying your capacity to enjoy your life (and sex) in order to make yourself more attractive, you're doing it wrong!

So just how bad are heels for your feet? Consider these two x-rays. First, a normal foot, standing flat on the ground:

Now, a foot in high heels:

The abnormal stress and weight on the ball foot is glaringly obvious -- and we're not even seeing how the toes are jammed into the narrow point of the shoe. Of course, feet are not the only causality of high heels, as the whole point of heels is that they change a woman's posture -- thereby affecting ankles, knees, hips, and back too. The article High Heels and Back Pain explains the basics nicely:

For over a century, the biomechanical effects of heels in everything from running shoes to stilettos has puzzled researchers and fired controversy. When standing barefoot, the perpendicular line of the straight body column creates a ninety degree angle with the floor. On a two-inch heel, were the body a rigid column and forced to tilt forward, the angle would be reduced to seventy degrees, and to fifty-five degrees on a three-inch heel. Thus, for the body to maintain an erect position, a whole series of joint adjustments (ankle, knee, hip, spine, head) are required to regain and retain one's erect stance and equilibrium.

The slope or slant of the heel, rear to front, is called the 'heel wedge angle'. The higher the heel, the greater the angle. On the bare foot there is no wedge angle. The bottom of the heel is on a level one hundred and eighty degrees, with body weight shared equally between heel and ball. Inside the heeled shoe, the wedge angle shifts body weight forward so that on a low heel, body weight is shared forty percent heel, sixty percent ball; and on a high heel ninety percent ball and ten percent heel.
Check out the article for more details, including some illustrative drawings.

Undoubtedly, modern high heels aren't as damaging as Chinese foot binding. Happily, heels can be worn only on occasion, and I don't see any problem with that. However, I can't see wearing high heels regularly as anything but self-destructive. Sure, they're sexy, but do you need to exude sex appeal at work? Probably not, unless you're a stripper. More, to court chronic pain and disfigurement in order to feel a bit sexier seems like a cruel joke on yourself and your sex life. In my view, that's a sign that you need to rethink your standards for sexy, preferably before you cause your body permanent damage.

A woman who is healthy, happy, warm, and engaging can exude plenty of sexy ... with her feet flat on the ground.

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