For lent I decided that rather than develop a particularly pragmatic outlook on life and eschew things like wine, cake or day dreaming about either Johnathan Taylor Thomas or Tyler Blackburn… I would be giving up something else
Well, sort of.
I’m actually giving up commuting in heels. Even the low ones.
There is immense pressure collectively heaped upon us all by glossy magazines to look great at all times… And legs tend to look longer and more, well, leggy in a nice pair of court shoes. However (try as I might) the sad truth is cobbled streets and cracked London pavement are not the right environment if you want to skip about like a frolicking lamb in four-inch stilettos.
The city is a minefield of uneven surfaces, tiny bits of broken glass, grit, puddles, dog shit, pavement pizza, discarded cigarette butts, empty bottles of wine, broken dreams – and (sometimes) abandoned underwear. It almost dares you to get from A to B in more than two inches without suffering a broken ankle, twisted knee, budding bunion, hammer toe, trapped nerve, shortened Achilles tendon or similar.
On a night out I will without fail observe at least one inebriated young woman trailing after her friends while removing her painfully high heels, simply because walking barefoot on the dirty pavement was the more comfortable option. Risking hookworm, puncture wounds, Strongyloidiasis and Tetanus among other things. Which inevitably makes my ears ring with horror and I have to forcibly restrain myself from offering a “we’re in this together” piggy back on principle.
You see, until lent encouraged me to give up on this impractical lie, I too used to be guilty of optimistically teetering out the door thinking I looked like Gisele Bündchen. But after having my feet trodden on by multiple commuters hurling themselves sideways onto an already packed tube train like Bruce Willis, getting my LK Bennets caught in camouflaged bits of grating and repeatedly having to scan the street for trip hazards every three yards ahead of me – I came to terms with the fact that this was one fight I couldn’t win. London had me at a home advantage.
Heels weren’t just heels any more.
They were Velociraptor heels.
Inside I could walk gracefully around as if I belonged in the Ziegfeld Follies. And yet, when I stepped outside? London turned me into this
In order to fend off loss of balance I was keeping my arms close to my boobs as if holding an invisible handbag, which I would flail about when necessary as I lurched untrustingly from pavement slab to pavement slab.
How was that sexy?
If the goal was to look cute – this was definitely the opposite of that.
I quickly took solace in the knowing that even Carrie Bradshaw (the queen of high heels) only managed to live in her signature pair of Manolo’s from dawn to dusk by travelling almost exclusively by taxi.
So I switched to flats instead. Thereby keeping my heels for the office so they remained in one (expensive) piece and didn’t potentially cause my premature death somewhere between doorstep to desk.
Admittedly, this probably doesn’t look as attractive to the overall aesthetics of an outfit but
1) it’s incredibly comfy – and
2) I get around ten times quicker now
Which is why I feel the need to throw a sisterly arm around all my other bewildered, naive and partially crippled heel-wearing commuters out there and whisper quietly and knowingly in their ear –
“…come! Join me my friend…”
After all, if flats were good enough for Audrey Hepburn they’re good enough for me.