New Year, New Heights

Tammy from next door, 14 going on 22, tripped off down the road in her new killer-heeled boots – presumably a Christmas present – towering over her 15-year-old boyfriend, who is normally slightly taller than she is. Tripped is apt. She didn’t actually fall over but had to keep her knees bent to retain her balance, while her skinny treggings gave her the appearance of being bowlegged. The Boyfriend hung onto her protectively, and I hope they didn’t have very far to walk to whatever party it was. I’m sure she looked very covergirlish sitting down or even just standing around. If they were going to a disco, though, she would have problems on the dance-floor.

The boots themselves are gorgeous, and I can understand her falling in love with them, but they ought to come with a hazard warning or a course of instruction. And as we all know from a famous Youtube clip, even models sometimes fall over on the catwalk when their heels are too high.

You don’t need to be a shoe-fetishist or Imelda Marcos to have a weakness for glamorous footwear.  A friend of mine who splashed out on a wonderful pair of deep fuchsia-pink high-heels for her sixtieth birthday party admits to trolling around expensive shoe shops and secretly fondling the most desirable and unwearable items on display. She is probably not alone. I have a pair of scarlet patent-leather escarpins that were almost as great a challenge as Tammy’s new boots, and though I never wear them any more the sight of them still fills me with pleasure.

What exactly is the fatal attraction of killer heels? Why, as soon as we hit puberty, do we start wanting to teeter around on the tips of our toes?  Few of us escape this primeval female urge, though it’s hard to envisage Miss Neanderthal doing it. Legs look longer, buttock muscles clench, posture improves and we feel taller and sexier. There is a theory that the custom of binding the feet of Chinese women arose because it strengthened certain pelvic floor muscles, thus making for better sex. Do high heels have a similar effect?

I suppose I ought to know. I have been wearing high heels since my first pair of Louis heels at the age of 13, though in my day they didn’t make them quite as vertiginous as they do now. I admit to a twinge of envy at the sight of Tammy’s boots, and if I were a decade younger I’d have offered to give her some lessons in how to balance and walk gracefully in them just to have the opportunity of trying them out. As it is, I know my limitations and seven inches is more than I could risk wobbling about on. Practice usually makes perfect, so let’s hope Tammy is soon mincing about on her stilts with the confidence of Kate Moss. Or that she decides to be slightly shorter than the Boyfriend.

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