Over the past three years, my femininity has suffered the slings and arrows of great misfortune. I’ve been silent and stalwart as per the Finnish code of conduct, but the time has come to speak publicly. I know. I’m like McGruff the Crime Dog trying to take a bite out of an orthotics catalog.
First, let us examine what it means to be “feminine,” and not emotionally, but physically, in the most superficial of ways. What words come to mind (and please don’t say Summer’s Eve)? How about perfume? Nice hair? Clothes that flatter? Make-up? And to put make-up on – say mascara, wouldn’t you need…eyelashes? You could try putting mascara on your chin hairs, but I think we all agree that it really does look best on eyelashes. Except that I have no eyelashes on my lower right eye. Cool, right??!! My right eye’s spirit animal would be the unique and special hairless sphinx cat.
You see, I have a bizarre (see above: unique and special!) congenital eye condition. Some of you might remember my hilarious post on this diagnosis that requires me to get my lower eye lashes plucked out once a month for the rest of my life. Some people get their Georgia O’Keefe waxed, I get my Mona Lisa de-nuded: both totally sexy endeavors.
I mourned the lack of future make-up on one quarter of my peepers for a brief minute. I would definitely not be as striking at Halloween parties in a Cleopatra costume, but on the flip side, less hair has always been more feminine according to everyone except the French.
No, what I want to talk to you about is what the orthopedist, like Maleficent cursing Aurora, proclaimed at a recent visit: that I should never wear high heels again.
I wasn’t surprised, but I was inexplicably crushed. It’s one thing to not wear heels because you don’t want to, but it’s a different matter to have that option taken from you. To put it bluntly, high heels are not simply vehicles of vanity, they embody power, confidence, sex. In the classic song “Short Skirt/Long Jacket,” Cake sings about wanting “a girl with shoes that cut,” not a girl with arch support sandals that have a heat-moldable insole. But there I was, a girl who gets up early and who stays up late, relegated to flats, the very word “flat” connoting deflated, one-dimensional, BORING.
And it is stunning the amount of people I need to explain (apologize?) this lifestyle change to. When I told my mother, a woman who doesn’t leave the house without makeup or high heels, who walks in a cloud of perfume and refuses to take off the 5 pounds of gold jewelry when going through airport security, she gasped with horror. She was sympathetic during my knee surgery recovery, but with this diagnosis, I became a tragic figure worthy of extreme pity: Anna Karenina shackled forever in Mephistos.
Going shoe shopping, the sales ladies bring me colorful bouquets of all the latest heels, to which I simply can’t respond, “No, thank you” – I feel the need to gain their sympathy and support. My feet need it and apparently, so does my ego. Attending my husband’s work functions, school fundraisers, moms night outs, I look away and quietly demure, “My knees, you know…” although I’m not really sure people hear me as I’m a good 4 inches shorter than anyone in my Lilliputian state.
My closet has become an orphanage of sorts, both to the 4 pairs of high heels collecting dust, as well as the several dresses and skirts that flats literally murdered at the knee caps. My mother, for whom the greatest gift in my grandmother’s will was her collection of Ferragamos, has talked openly about the possibility of having my shoes stretched to her size (WTF?), but I, myself, am torn between putting them in an urn or using them as an art installation in the foyer.
In this dark hour, I went a bit overboard in the purchasing of stylish non-heels. Each pair of shoes felt like a different personality: I could be a hippy in the Berkinstocks! Star in the remake of “Amelie” with the black suede ballet flats! But I confess to also purchasing the Dansko clog, where I was clearly channeling Mario Batali crossed with Nurse Jackie.
Stop judging me. Touring the facilities and picking up slack has really taken a toll on my dogs.
Which can finally stop barking because the heels have been brought to heel.