Forget the pain; metro Detroit women admit they get a kick out of wearing high heels

Forget the pain; metro Detroit women admit they get a kick out of wearing high heels

March 24–SARAH JESSICA PARKER — once the poster child for the sensual power that is a towering pair of Manolo Blahnik pumps — said recently that high heels have ruined her feet.

“For 10 or so years, I literally ran in heels,” Parker told Net-a-Porter magazine in an interview published earlier this month. “I worked 18-hour days and never took them off. I wore beautiful shoes, some better made than others, and never complained.”

Then, on the set of her 2011 movie, “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” Parker slipped while wearing a pair of cheap shoes with plastic soles and twisted an ankle.

“I went to a foot doctor,” Parker continued. “And he said, ‘Your foot does things it shouldn’t be able to do. That bone there. … You’ve created that bone. It doesn’t belong there.’ ”

So, what to do with this cautionary tale from the actress whose “Sex and the City” character introduced a generation of women to the high style of high heels and turned Louboutin, Blahnik and Choo into household names?

What to make of it?

Not much.

I like Parker, having met her during a press junket several years ago. (She’s friendly, smart and carries a Tide stain pen in case of a stain-related emergency.)

I’m sorry she has bad feet.

But her story isn’t going to scare me out of high heels — I spent part of last weekend swooning over a pair of super high satin pumps from Dolce Gabbana at T. J. Maxx. (Alas, they fit neither my feet nor my budget.)

Holly Hengstebeck, a 38-year-old financial analyst from Northville who wears 5-inch heels to her business casual office every day, even during her pregnancy — isn’t scared either.

Neither is Aimee Parker, a 38-year-old stay-at-home mom from Saline who wears heels every day — to the grocery store, the mall, on the family vacation to Disney World. “Clearly they do make good high heels that do support your feet,” she says. “I can’t think of a reason I wouldn’t wear heels,” she says. “Even if I was stuck in a wheelchair, I’d still wear heels.”

Krystle Goodman, who is 24, lives in Detroit and wears stilettos to her job at a department store cosmetics counter, admits her heels are sometimes uncomfortable.

According to a 2003 survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association: 42% of women wear uncomfortable shoes because they are stylish, 31% wear high heels to work even though they’re uncomfortable and 73% admitted already having a shoe-related foot problem.

Doctors say wearing heels higher than 2 inches can cause knee and back pain, shorten tendons, exacerbate arthritis and create all sorts of other problems.

But in 2011 women in the U.S. spent $38.5 billion on shoes, according to published reports. More than half of those sales were for heels over 3 inches high

“High heel shoes contribute to my practice,” says Dr. Paul Fortin, an orthopedic surgeon who is head of foot and ankle services for the Beaumont health system. “I have a lot of patients coming to see me with problems.”

Says Goodman: “I just look at it as beauty is pain and you have to go through with it. When I’m wearing my heels, I’m always happy and feeling sexy because I’m on top of the world. Once you step in them, they just take you to new heights.”

High heels aren’t just shoes.

Heels make us better.

High heels elongate our legs — pointy toe pumps do a better job than round toes — and make us look taller and slimmer.

“I have decent legs, and they make my legs look even better,” says Sara Pomish, who is 53, lives in Farmington Hills and works in advertising. “They lift your butt when you walk in them. With skirts, there’s nothing that looks better than a good quality stocking and a high heel.”

Says Aimee Parker: “When you’re wearing heels, because your posture is better, you feel better about yourself. … Even my flip-flops have 3-inch heels. They’re wedges.”

Men think women look great in high heels.

Even Dr. Fortin, who encourages his patients to consider high heels a privilege that should be exercised only on special occasions where a lot of walking isn’t involved, says, “I like the way it looks.”

And no matter how independent we say we are, how feminist our leanings, the truth is most women enjoy being admired and desired.

“So many things in our society have become androgenized,” says Pomish. “Guys wear jeans, chicks wear jeans. Guys wear suits, women wear suits. Sort of the same way a pickup truck is that last expression of being a macho guy, wearing heels is one of the few things that separate the girls from the boys.”

Wearing heels is “the one thing that we really can do that’s a visible expression of our femininity — other than sexy lingerie which nobody gets to see.”

At the same time, good heels symbolize a certain level of success.

“When you think of a high-powered female, you always picture them in (high) pumps,” says Hengstebeck.

Adds Pomish: “In business situations, there’s something more powerful about heels. You can announce yourself coming. The sound of them is part of the appeal.”

We wear heels because they give us instant power.

They give us power over our appearance.

They give us a certain sexual power over men.

And they telegraph our power at work, helping us stand tall.

Why would we want to give up any of that?

Contact Georgea Kovanis: 313-222-6842 or