Five Reasons A Ms. Blogger Won’t Wear Stiletto Heels

The stiletto phenomenon has now been around long enough to have a list of reasons why I would never wear them. How about you?

1. I will start with an admission: My feet are too wide for me to wear any of the currently stylish four- to six-inch stiletto heels even if I wanted to. My feet are small squares, equal in length and width.

(I learned a lot about stiletto heels from the book Bad Shoes and the Women who Love Them by Leora Tanenbaum. It is smart and well-researched.)

The "Prison Warden" Look

2. I see a horrifying similarity between the ancient Chinese practice of foot binding and the current self-imposed torture of the stiletto. In ancient China, women were taught that a foot of 3 to 3-and-a-half inches was desirable. (That’s about the length of a lipstick.)

Okay, Jimmy Choo doesn’t require that you have tiny little feet, but my comparison is still solid: Binding the foot ultimately caused the bones in the arch of the foot to be broken and the toes to bend under the foot. Ouch. This caused endless amounts of pain for the bindee. No such agony exists for today’s women. Or does it?

the Wicked Witch of the West's other shoes

3. Bad Shoes cites the foot problems caused by continuous wearing of these shoes: hammer toes, bunions, bunionettes (a bump next to the pinky toe not to be confused with its larger sister, the bunion, which nestles against the big toe), broken bones and on and on. The author quotes orthopedic surgeons describing with glee the ease of removing a part of a woman’s toe to undo this damage.

If you want your feet narrower so you can fit into one of these instruments of agony, you can choose from an array of surgical methods. Or you can join the Do-It-Yourself Movement and hack off a toe or two at home. Just keep a lot of Neosporin and smelling salts near by.

You can support the manufacturer, but they won't support you

4. I don’t think these are sexy. Today’s Vera Wangs and Calvin Kleins are supposed to be about sexuality. Just stick your foot into one of them and stand up. You will find your butt and chest in a new configuration. Enticing or strange? I’ve asked some men how they feel about women on a date wobbling to a table in a restaurant, plopping down, doing some mysterious things with her feet under the table, and breathing a huge sigh of relief as they get their shoes off. From talking to male friends what I got was a sense of bewilderment, not desire. I’m beginning to love my little square feet!

Warning: could mutate your feet

5. It’s a no brainer. At least I thought so. But the women I spoke to about stiletto heels were unmoved by the science of the shoe and the almost inevitable pain and body damage they cause. Any criticism, even the description of amputated toes and spinal-trouble-to-come-later, got me in trouble. Clearly the answer does not lie in ranting and raving. Which is too bad, because it’s something I really enjoy doing.

I hope that a leader will rise up and take down the stilettos. More likely, styles will change, and Corso Como, Dolce Vita and Sam Weitzman will need to make a new “it” shoe, something that women will put out fresh money for. I think stiletto shoes are about as sexy as fur-ball throw-up. My opinion will not change the shape of shoes, or the women who buy them. I’m just saying.

FROM TOP DOWN: Snake cage heels from Street Moda. Black gladiator-style heels from Jildor. Black mock-croc pointy toe heel from Rosa Shoes. Silver sandal from Amazon. Leopard-print pumps from Kaboodle.


  1. I also have wide feet yet have more than one pair of high heels that feel great. I’m completely against uncomfortable shoes, but why do you assume that because you’re uncomfortable in high heels that all women are?

  2. Karen Walker says:

    oh my God, Ms. let it go already! we get it, you don’t like high heels and guess what you don’t have to wear them but let other women enjoy their shoes however they want them- flat, sky high, open toe etc. having an affinity for shoes does not make one less of a feminist and having a post up once a week about the issue is such a waste of your space and a discussion. or at least make it interesting. this post is not saying anything new or interesting.

  3. Diane Haithman says:

    Sad to say, if you look up “shoe” in Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, you will find a drawing of a high-heeled pump. However, the definition also states that the shoe is “a covering for the human foot,” which suggests that it should actually conform to the dimensions of the human foot (that is, of normal width and including a total of five toes). Therefore, the architecturally interesting items shown here are, technically, not “shoes,” but something else entirely; kebab skewers, perhaps. Thanks to Susan Rubin for exposing the problem, and looking forward to her next commentary! (PS: The proper response to “Jimmy Choo” is “gesundheit.”)

  4. I like the way my butt looks when I wear my high shoes, and so does my boyfriend. I am a vain feminist, what can I tell you? Funny post, Ms. Rubin. Can’t wait for the next one from my square-footed sister.

  5. I’m the person who wrote about stilettos. I want to be clear that I don’t think I have the right to tell people what to wear, I was just shocked by what I found when I researched the shoes. This is just my opinion and I hope people will take it as that. Thanks to Kendra for your lovely “square-footed sister” comment, and to Diane Haithman for her hilarious take on my blog.

  6. BWaller says:

    Great post! In all things, moderation. Continuous wearing of high heels shortens your tendons so you’re not comfortable without high heels. Just ask your massage therapist. Mix it up–flats, pumps and high heels — and go without shoes every once in a while. Barefoot is sexy, too.

  7. Susan I’m with you on this one. Personally being 5′ 8″ with size 6 feet, makes it amazing that I stand up at all, without making myself taller and my feet shorter. I find heels make me walk frustratingly slow.

    On a general note, thanks for bringing the health risks to our attention.

  8. How about : I cant walk, work, run, think when my feet are painful.
    good post!

  9. I’m a guy and — taking the cue from ms. Rubin’s catchy blog — I have to agree that I am not impressed with stilettos. They make women look vulnerable and in pain. Attractive? Nah. Now I hear that they’re not so great for your bones. Ouch.

  10. Nancy Mikelsons says:

    I think a number of the comments missed the humor in Ms. Rubin’s blog. She wasn’t telling anyone what to do, but she was pointing out some of the serious problems with ‘spike’ heels. As an ‘elder’ myself I have lived through several cycles of foot destructive shoes, the spikes, the shoes with sharp pointed toes that left no room for real toes, among other fashions that have come and gone and will come back. I live in a large city with lots of universities and young people. I see young women wobbling around on these spikes every week-end. If being fashionable means to be in pain, then hats off to Ms. Rubin and to heck with fashion, especially one that is likely to lead to accidents that will do permanent damage to ones feet (square or not) as well as leave an expression on the wearers face that they are actually pretty miserably uncomfortable. Let’s see more of the talented Ms. Rubin’s humor on whatever topic grabs her attention! We all need to laugh at ourselves a little more than we do. Thanks to MS. for adding her to their blogger list!

  11. My bunion is LOL! Great post! As a middle-aged feminist and consumer of heels (although not stilettos), I recognize the need to find a reasonable balance! Comfort can be addicting.

    I can’t wait for Ms. Rubin’s next blog! Spanx, anyone??

  12. Yolanda says:

    this blog is hilarious and I look forward to more. Fashion and torture have been married for a long time. Is it time for a divorce???

  13. As a long-time wearer and absolute lover of the highest of heels, I thoroughly enjoyed this article because it is funny and TRUE. Susan has made very valid points (of course, points I ignore…..), and has turned boring medical facts into entertaining fare…. And, come on, if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can ya laugh at? Looking forward to the next one, Ms. Rubin!

  14. Leita Hulmes says:

    As a person with short, fat (I mean wide) feet that can never get into any of the “stylish” shoes, I love the facts as well as the humorous style, of this blog. It re-affirms my comfort level in choosing flat, sensible shoes. Go Susan!

  15. I enjoyed the article and think that stilettos are ridiculous contraptions that oppress women (negative health outcomes/pain/dangerous) as yet another crazy beauty norms. The comparisons to the Chinese shoes is valid. At no point did she tell anybody not to wear them but she is expressing her opinions about why she doesn’t. Those of you who are getting upset about her opinions need to do some soul searching. Perhaps the article makes your guilty pleasure of wearing high heels seem more like your complicity in your own oppression. That’s for you to sort out on your own. Great article Susan!

  16. Interesting article, informative and enjoyable I have some sensible shoe’s theyre great for walking in.

  17. Belle of Acadie says:

    Interesting I never knew of the health consequences. I have never worn them in my whole life though. Mostly because my family is too poor to have more than one pair of sneakers for each person.

    Jeez people go hardcore and wear some Doc Martins! Support, leather, quality and perfect for the mosh pit! 😉

    Great post. All I see is a waste of money, negative health effects, and oppression disguised as beauty.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tabitha Hale and Adrienne, Ian Lisk. Ian Lisk said: RT @AdrienneRoyer: feminists don't wear stilettos according to Ms. Blog. I couldn't make up this stuff if I tried. […]

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