Shoes in the News

This week’s New Yorker magazine gave me the important news flash that Birkenstocks are now a fashion object, coveted by those on the cutting edge sartorially worldwide. (Who knew?) One fashion assistant explains: “There’s nothing better than a really pretty dress with an ugly shoe.” So there you go!


My husband has been singing the praises of Birkenstocks for decades, but I have not joined the ranks because of their, ahem, homely appearance. However I have noticed as the years pass I am more and more in search of comfortable shoes – low heels, firm soles, good ankle support, and broader footbeds supplanting pointy toes, flimsy ankle straps and slim teetering heels in my own closet.  So this article began to make me feel vindicated, as evidenced by the article’s discussion with an executive at the company’s Bonn headquarters, Oliver Reichert:


“The brand’s resurgence was no mere trend, he argued: a larger cultural shift was under way.  Women were recognizing that most footwear was unhealthy. Reichert said “You cannot walk all day like this” – he shifted his weight onto his toes, then minced forward for a few steps, as if he were wearing heels. “Talk to your friends, and ask them to show you their feet. You will see a lot of crooked feet, and you will say, ‘This is torture.’ The popularity of Birkenstocks, he argued, indicated a desire for a return to a more natural state, at least where footwear was concerned…he said, ”I am saying, Accept that the human being is built like this.”


A-ha! ‘The human being is built like this’…he may be onto something!


I only recently learned of the cost of my early high heel-wearing days.  I twisted my ankle in a pothole last year (quite a New York story) and had an MRI on my foot to assess the damage.  In giving me the report, the podiatrist explained that the MRI had revealed a great deal of old scarring to the ligaments in my ankle.  When I was puzzled because I had never had any injury before, he said, ‘oh, no, we just see this on women from wearing high heels.  The ligaments [which are non-elastic] stretch to stabilize the ankle when it wobbles while walking in a heel, and then scar as they heal up, over and over again.“ He went on to say that this kind of damage was especially harmful now that I actually did have an injury, because the ligaments were already compromised.


Egads! In the past, I had mostly worn heels as needed for performing and occasional nights out.  Given my report, I shudder to think of the consequences if I had been a daily heel wearer.


So, ladies – step right up for your now-fashionable Birkenstocks! (Or perhaps, like I, you would like to embrace the Dansko clog.) But in all seriousness, do consider this cautionary tale and seek out the lowest-heeled, most supportive shoes that you can find for your daily lives.  Flip-flops, be gone! You will thank yourself when you step in a pothole.  And your body will thank you for making the quest for stability that much easier…



© 2014 Eleanor Taylor. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.