One unexpected bonus of my (so far) nine months of steady weight-loss has been that I’ve begun to enjoy wearing heels again.
At just 5’3” short, I depended upon four inches of heel, usually in the form of a stiletto, to give me the boost I felt I needed in the professional workwear department. Back in the day, I could teeter for miles, spending all week in my pin-sharp stilettoes; walking to and from the tube station, you would find me regularly prising my heels, often minus their tips, out of the gaps between paving stones and escalator treads. I could click-clack up and down corridors and around shops, and stand for long sociable hours in basement wine bars.
Graduating from tube commuting to a car, I could drive in anything. Those four inch heels? No problem. Platforms and wedges? Bring it on. My footwell carpets were scarred with holes which bore witness to my persistence with heels of all kinds. All in pursuit of those precious extra inches.
Heels are uncomfortable at the best of times, but we women of more reduced stature stick with the programme anyway, forcing our fragile feet into narrow, pointy and strappy shoes for the sake of our vanity. All the weight you bear pushes down into those heels, and the smaller and more pinpointy they are, the greater the pain, and the more lasting the damage. I began to wear heels at work, but make the swap to trainers for, umm… the train… and a pair of old car shoes for driving. Yes, the sensible gene kicks in eventually.
But as my weight increased, my heel height, even during work-time decreased, until the only thing I was comfortable in was a pair of flatties. I began to shop in Clarks again, for the first time since childhood – best place for women’s brogues and slip-ons you see. I still pushed my protesting feet into heels for the odd evening out, but even that last lingering vestige of vanity slipped away as my bulk grew, and my self-respect drained away.
What you don’t expect as your weight increases, is that your feet get bigger. It’s like they’re spreading out – trying to take your increasing tonnage on a wider… footprint. I went from a size 6 (UK) to 7, and soon only wide-fitting shoes would be comfortable. Good old Clarks saved the day there too. Not only that, but a slow, unhealthy circulation results in water retention, and I’d become accustomed to puffy ankles and fluid-filled feet on all but the chilliest day. And waterlogged feet do not squeeze without considerable protest, into pretty shoes.
But here we are today, and with my weight decreasing again and my circulation improving, guess what? My feet are shrinking. My bloaty, swollen peds are history; I’m back in a size 6, back out of the wide-fitting department too. And… with a touch of narcissism beginning to resurface, I’ve begun to venture out in heels again. I’d kept my favourite tall shoes, you see; even though they’ve been unwearable for the last few years due to the crippling pain they induced. Now my feet will stand a few hours in those welcome extra inches; straps no longer dig in and draw blood; burst blisters are a faint memory and I’m once more enjoying the way I walk in heels. Because I’ve begun to feel elegant again.
Oh, I know, I do still have a very long way to go. Others at my weight will bemoan how frumpy-dumpy they feel, but I’m on the way down, not up, and I’m being gradually released from my frumpy-dumpiness.
I still have a shoe cupboard full of Birkenstocks, Crocs and flip-flops, and they are still my go-to at-home wear for all the obvious reasons of comfort and practicality. But it’s wonderful – truly fabulous – to be able to take my short legs out in a pair of tall shoes every once in a while these days. Another of the many, many rewards of the weight-loss journey.