Sunday, June 04, 2006
Girl's First Heels...
This pair of shoes was my very first pair of "high" heels. Aren't they just butt-ugly!! I wouldn't be caught dead in something as gruesome now, but back then they were soooo special to me. I felt very grown up in these babies at age 12! I refuse to say what year that was... ;-)
By my current standards, these shoes are obviously not high at all. Take a look at my fave boots in my post of March 29th to get an idea of what high means to me now. Those boots don't look hugely high-heeled in the photo, but the heels are a good 9 cm (3 and 1/2"). I know that's not super-high by some women's standards, but it's about as high as I can manage. I am not (yet?) the mistress of the high-heeled walk. In the book The Fashionista Files (Adventures in Four-Inch Heels and Faux Pas) by Melissa de la Cruz and Karen Robinovitz, Melissa and Karen explain that for a true fashionista, three-inchers are "sensible" and "comfortable", four-inch heels are for "nighttime drama" and five inches mean that you are "strutting in tranny hooker territory, which, depending on the occasion, is not such a bad thing". ;-)
Isn't it funny that some tall women such as myself (I am around 175 cm / 5'10") love wearing high heels? Or let's say that I personally don't think that there's anything funny about it at all, but some short women find it odd. That's because short women sometimes wear high heels just to appear taller. Tall women obviously have absolutely no such need, since we already tower over pretty much everybody else. Tall women have other reasons for wearing high heels: they are basically a power trip. If you know how to walk in them (and your feet aren't killing you!), they make you feel more powerful - and yet more feminine at the same time. It's a very strange thing.
I recently read a fun book by Camilla Morton called How to Walk in High Heels (The Girl's Guide to Everything). It's like a reference book that explains how to do every conceivable thing from changing your tyres to applying eye-shadow. Very educational and very entertaining at the same time! Other similar books I've read recently include The Bombshell Manual of Style by Laren Stover and a novel in the same genre called Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro. It is loosely based on the non-fiction book with the same name by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux, who used to be the Directrice of the Nina Ricci salons in Paris. In the novel, Tessaro writes something along the lines: "It's so much easier to turn on your heels and walk away when you're wearing heels". I somehow feel that I wouldn't be very greatly exaggerating if I was to say that women who don't know how to walk in high heels don't know what it means to be a real woman! (Of course, I'm being very non-PC here, since some women can't walk at all and some don't even have feet, but you get my meaning I hope...).
My point is really only this: being a woman is fun and wearing high heels is a big part of that fun. Doesn't Shania Twain say it so well when she sings: "The best thing about being a woman is the prerogative to have a little fun". And of course, back in the day, Cyndi Lauper sang "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun".
But don't get me wrong, I am an avid feminist - I guess you could say that I'm a "lipstick feminist". I'm a very girly-girl but have never felt that it diminished my power in the least, on the contrary. Walking into a room (such as a Board Room) and looking absolutely stunning is really powerful - but only if you also have something to say when you open your mouth! Us girls need to develop both our bods and our brains. Here I once again refer to the recent song Stupid Girl by Pink. She sings: "Outcasts and girls with ambition, that's what I wanna see!"
I recently saw the movie X-Men 3: The Last Stand. It was quite OK as far as action films go, but the ending drove me nuts. (If you haven't seen the movie yet, you better stop reading this now, cause I'll spoil it for you!) The idea is that Jean is a super-powerful "level 5" mutant who is more powerful than any other mutant. She can destroy anything with the power of her mind, but her mind is so powerful that she cannot control it - it ends up controlling her. The Professor has kept her mind under control until now (with the power of his mind) but when he dies, Jean's mind is set free and (long story short) she starts to destroy everything in sight. It takes the man who loves her to "save her" i.e. kill her so that she cannot do anymore damage.
Now what's wrong with that? Good story, right? Well, what bothers me about it is that it's the same old story that we know so well from many old sources: from the Bible (Eve), from mediaval witch hunts and from muslim ideology; women are dangerous if they are powerful and their power (and/or sexuality) must be controlled at all costs. They need to be locked up in towers, they need to wear chastity belts, they need to be "circumcised", they must wear a burqa, they need to "love, honour and obey" their husbands, they need to be "madonnas" or "ladies" because otherwise they are "whores", "sluts" or "crazy women" (as late as the 1950's, women were lobotomized in the US for having a mind of their own).
I just think that this whole legend has gotten a bit old and I don't want to see it again in a modern movie. In the X-Men, Jean was so powerful that she could not control herself, it took someone else - a man of course - to control her mind and it took another man (and what's more, the man that loved her) to find the final solution by killing her. It's really sick. I would have liked to see her learn to control her power so that she could use it for good. The Professor was able to do that so why not Jean? Why is it impossible for a woman to be incredibly powerful and yet in control at the same time? Why must we see a powerful woman as an uncontrollable "force of nature"?
Are men still so threatened by a woman's power that they have to keep telling this age-old story? It seems that many societies will do anything to keep women "under control". P-e-llllllleeeeeease you guys - just grow up, will you!
Pink Lady has Spoken