SRSLY: If Your Shoes Are Causing You Pain, Wear Different Shoes

Granted that I didn’t have a high opinion of Michelle Bachmann’s logical capacities in the first place, but given that she correlates her head pain with “high heel days”, am I to understand that her conclusion is truly that she would rather take several pills a day to control her severe headaches or migraines (she doesn’t appear to know, or at least doesn’t care to explain, the difference) than just stop wearing such high heels?

Putting her appearance ahead of her health actually seems the most sensible option? This choice is something she feels presents her in a favourably prudential light as a candidate for high office of any sort, let alone for the presidency?

It wasn’t that long ago that a woman seeking political office wearing anything more tottery than a low court heel would have been considered obviously frivolous*. Why not make a stand for a return to those traditional values, eh?

* I actually agree that high heels are frivolous things which ought best be reserved for frivolous occasions, where they can be fully fabulous, rather than be considered a standard expectation of daily attire.

Categories: gender & feminism, medicine, Politics

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12 replies

  1. She may be showing that she is prepared to sacrifice any woman’s health, including her own, to be representative. I wonder how many people are reassured that she will do what they expect of her, regarding both women’s health and martyrdom for the party.

  2. I don’t know, this feels like policing another woman’s gender expression and medical choices to me. She’s in the public eye, maybe she feels like if she doesn’t wear high heels noone will take her seriously (and maybe she’s right, look at all the flack Julia Gillard gets when she’s not considered feminine enough)
    There are enough things to criticise her about without focusing on her shoes.

  3. Eh. It sounds to me like a throwaway remark such as one you might make to people who have no business nosing into your private medical details.

  4. @Lauredhel, reportedly it was her son Lucas (a doctor) who helpfully provided that purportedly personal medical information about his mother to the media, which is a whole ‘nother level of concern. Reportedly she has also used high heels as an “explanation” to lower-level staffers, which fits with your interpretation ( higher-level staffers cite stress in general).
    @Sophie, I see why it looks that way to you. For the record, I have no problem with anyone loving the aesthetics of high heels for themselves. I do have problems with the beauty standard expectation that they should be worn every day to every occasion because of the various inconveniences and disadvantages that high heels place on wearers who are just wanting to get on with everyday non-frivolous activities but who feel compelled to wear impractical footwear.
    I’m also a physiotherapist by training, and am totally horrified by the damage that everyday heel-wearing does to feet, legs and backs – I’m not going to stop telling everybody at any opportunity that presents itself that, just like Cookies Are A Sometime Food, High Heels Are A Sometime Footwear.
    But I do agree with you that there are far more important things to criticise her on regarding her policies. If the reported cause of her headaches were true (about which I expressed some doubt in the OP) then I do think that the purported choice to medicate more than needed would be just another layer of bizarre on top of what is already plenty bizarre already.

  5. Perhaps similarly, I see a lot of women out on the town wearing very little clothing when its freezing cold. The trade-off between comfort and fashion is clearly theirs to make, but I could never imagine myself coming down on the fashion side.

  6. Togtog: I wouldn’t have complained if you’d said that the fact that Michelle Bachmann feels the need to wear highheels even though they (possibly) cause her physical harm is an example of the ridiculous pressure women are put under to wear high heels all the time even though they’re bad for us. But that’s not what you said, you she was being illogical and refusing to take the sensible option, even though there are clear logical benefits to wearing high heels that she has presumably weighed against any downsides. I don’t care too much about Michelle Bachmann’s feelings, but you are by implication insulting every woman who wears clothing that causes them pain in order to be taken more seriously at their job or because of other social pressures.

    • @Sophie, I can see that I shouldn’t have done that. My outrage against the system that expects women to live in pain for “beauty” enrages me so much that I wasn’t as careful about my wording as I should be, but I certainly don’t mean to insult anybody who feels unavoidably pressurised to wear high heels most days.
      I do think that an older, conventionally attractive woman like Bachmann who aligns so closely to the idealised feminine beauty standard (thin, pale-skinned, minimal wrinkles) would be someone who would be in the perfect position to injection a bit more sense into expectations around high heel wearing if they truly were causing her pain, because there do exist elegant footwear alternatives that are much less high that still look entirely suitable with business/political attire. I just hate it that even women running for political office now are expected to wear not just mildly but downright frivolously impractical shoes.

  7. I just hate it that even women running for political office now are expected to wear not just mildly but downright frivolously impractical shoes.

    That’s something we can definitely agree on!

  8. I recently decided to quit buying high heels. I have discovered that my shoe purchasing choices have dwindled dramatically – awesome for my bank account. I will still wear the ones I own until they either die or become completely outdated.
    I just suddenly realised that before I IDed as a feminist, wearing heels made me feel an illusion of power – from being taller and seeming sexier. I discovered after feminism, that actually I feel more powerful when I can walk fast, even on uneven ground and am not in pain – and I feel less vulnerable too.
    Mainly I just feel sorry for Bachmann and women like her who feel like they don’t have a choice about it, and feel that they have to put up with the ridiculous crapness.

  9. Sounds a bit damned if she does damned if she doesn’t. “I need to wear high heels to be taken seriously, yet when I wear high heels they just don’t take me seriously.”
    I am immensely grateful for my job that lets me stomp around in blunnies. In fact where I am expected to stomp around in blunnies although heels are optional in the office. Except that I would break my ankle if I tried to wear them.

  10. Sounds a bit damned if she does damned if she doesn’t. “I need to wear high heels to be taken seriously, yet when I wear high heels they just don’t take me seriously.”

    That Catch-42 seems to be pretty much the whole point of the dictatorial beauty standard: “don’t you dare fail to gratify my gaze by being frumpy, but when you spend all that time and effort on being non-frumpy I’m going to judge you as shallow and vain”.

  11. This ties in nicely with Mindy’s post about the sexism experienced by women in politics.

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