Strapping on some attitude

Ninety percent of women may find this hard to believe, but I’d reached the ancient age of 47 before I acquired my first high-heeled shoes.

That’s not normal, really, is it? A friend has bought his daughter her first pair of heels for her 13th birthday, but somehow the whole sexiness of shoes had eluded me completely.

I blame the genes – my internal genes, not the tight jeans that look so hot with heels. When I was 12 I shot up like a magic beanpole to a towering 1.8 metres. And standing at least a head taller than all the boys in class is a sure-fire way to make a teenager self-conscious.

I was the baby giraffe who never had a partner at school dances. The one who felt gawky in her gangly body and got relegated to the back row in school photos.

To balance out my height I take a size seven shoe, because the laws of physics dictate that tall things fall over unless they have a good solid base beneath them. But the laws of fashion back then dictated that sexy shoes stopped at size six. Bigfoots like me may as well have shopped in the men’s section, because all we were offered were dowdy insults to attractiveness.

Not only were they flat, they were unstylish in a way that instantly made me feel like I’d slipped on a pair of barges. Haute couture in those days didn’t apply if you were haute.

Besides, few men – with the exception of supremely cocky celebrities - are comfortable with a taller woman on their arm. And I wanted a man I could look up to, anyway.

It’s a miracle I didn’t develop an apologetic stoop to go with all this emotional foot-induced baggage, but I’ve always walked with an attitude that says here’s me. Take me as I am. Just don’t make me any bigger.

Supermodels are taller than me, but I didn’t want to see the disappointment on someone’s face if they mistook me for a supermodel from behind, then realised from the front there’s a tiny chance they’re mistaken.

So flatties became a way of life. Until I met a staggeringly tall and stunning public relations lady whose towering heels make her an absolute showstopper. “I like looking down on people, especially men,” she laughed, raising an eyebrow into the stratosphere.

The change finally happened when alcohol was involved, as many changes do. It was my birthday, and I was dancing with one of my shortest friends. I admired her Gladiator stilettos that added at least four inches. She was still a short-arse, but a short-arse with style. She peeled them off and handed them over. Size six, but I squeezed them on, stood up, and felt magnificent. I tottered a little, but that may have been champagne rather than vertigo.

The next day she sent an SMS: “I have a pair of size 7 shoes with your name on.”

I put them on and drew up to my full impressive height. Wobbled around her lounge trying not to fall over. My whole posture became more elegant as the balance of weight shifted.

I went out in them for the first time with a tall male friend. He held my hand to give me some balance as I my hair brushed against an overhanging branch. In the toilets I had to bend down to reach the door handles.

I still peer down at the pavement cautiously, worried a stiletto will jam in a pavement crack and I’ll topple over like a redwood being felled.

For women who have worn heels for a lifetime I’m sure this sounds ridiculous. But for the first time I finally realised there’s something undeniably ego-boosting about wearing sexy high heels.

I’ve been an unnoticeable wallflower for too long. Bugger that! I belatedly want to feel sexy and be noticed, even if only a few men have the chutzpah not to feel intimidated. The face and the figure may not be as fine as they once were, but this is me. In your face – or above your face, unless you’re as tall as I am.

Soon I may even strap on my stilettos and totter off to a beauty salon for a professional make-up lesson. Goodness, I might finally become feminine.



First published in Longevity Magazine.

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