I Stopped Wearing High Heels at 30

My feet are happier but my outfits might not be.

I Stopped Wearing High Heels at 30
Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash

My feet are happier but my outfits might not be.

I quit my job to start my own business at 28.

After that, I’ve never been answerable to anyone. I’ve made great money, become a dog parent, moved into an amazing house, and built a life I could never have dreamed of in my 20s.

But why am I starting an article about high heels with this anecdote?

It’s because the day I quit my job, I understood my worth.

I had to hustle hard to reach a stage where I could work 3–4 hours a day and make more money in a day than I’d made from my day job in a month. I knew what it took to deserve this life, and there’s no way I’m taking this freedom and luxury for granted.

But how does this relate to high heels?

It will take digging a lot deeper to understand the root cause of wanting to wear high heels in the first place, and then giving them up.

Why do women want to wear high heels?

I can’t provide a generalized answer, but I wanted to dig deep and know my truth: why did I think I needed high heels?

The root cause isn’t so easy to arrive at. Let me share a glimpse of the self-question-and-answer journaling technique I often use to make life’s biggest decisions — 

Why do I want to wear high heels?

They make any outfit look good.

But YOU are supposed to make the outfit look good, not a pair of heels.

I guess it’s because of the societal pressure to fit in. You know, how every lady in power will wear high heels. And my outfit won’t look good with shoes or anything else — especially if I’m wearing dresses and skirts.

So it comes down to what people think of you?

Not really, I don’t think I care about that.

Then what is it?

I think high heels make me look powerful and in control.

Do you really need shoes for that?

And that’s it — the realization was as simple as that. I wanted to wear high heels because I always considered it to be an accessory that exudes power.

“High heels are something like neckties for women, in that it can be harder to look both formal and femme without them.” — Summer Brennan, Sex, power, oppression: why women wear high heels

High heels are uncomfortable. I always end up with aching feet every time I wear them. They restrict movement and make long events uncomfortable.

And yet, why was I wearing them? To look powerful and in control? Wouldn’t I feel more powerful and in control if I chose to wear shoes that were comfortable rather than meant to create a statement in public?

When I quit my job to become a business-owner, I decided to live life on my terms. I didn’t want to spend my life saying “Yes” to bosses I secretly hated and doing tasks that brought me no joy.

I believe I’ve earned a life where I call the shots. And since I get to do what I want, I should always get to choose comfort. 

Why would I subject myself to the pain high heels bring about?

How life’s changed since then

Life after high heels has been different in ways I couldn’t have fathomed.

They didn’t really make all that much of a difference.

Sure, my mother has commented a few times that I need to pick prettier footwear with Indian traditional clothing like saris. And yes, my female friends have asked me to “woman up” and wear high heels on girls’ night-outs and get-togethers.

But I’ve been resolute.

I’ve got nothing against high heels. But I can’t reconcile with the reason I wanted to wear them. 

And for me, it’s easy to give up this item of fashion.

“Companies are amazing at manipulating body types. Each season, year, and decade. Even a piece of clothing or product. This push is based on what the models look like. Women in society could be too tall, or too short. Not curvy enough. Too “flat”. This continues on and on.” —Lola Hadley, How the Fashion Industry Profits off your Insecurities

The only place I’d still want to wear high heels

My default answer to “What’s a cool fact about you?” in parties and get-togethers is always this — “I’m a part-time pole dancer.

I don’t perform. I’m a hobbyist and I do it to stay fit.

Recently, I’ve taken to wearing heels while performing pole tricks. There isn’t any particular reason. I’ve just never been good at dancing or any other performative arts since childhood. Pole dancing for almost a year has given me the strength, grace, and confidence I never thought I could muster in my life. 

Looking at my pole videos makes me smile, and the 10-year-old Anangsha jumps with joy. Adding high heels to the performance is my way of levelling up: to make my pole dance combos aesthetically appealing, and also keep pointing my toes while wearing heels to engage my leg muscles better.

It’s a way of adding hurdles to make the pole dancing feel more like an accomplishment. I love how confident it makes me feel. It’s the only time in my life I’ve wanted to wear high heels, and the reason hasn’t got anything to do with how people perceive me.

“Heels create a mood and psychological shift, like doing the Wonder Woman stance for confidence. Your body language changes, muscles tighten, and there is nothing more powerful than looking someone in the eye, rather than looking up.” — Tamara Mellon, former creative director of Jimmy Choo.

The verdict: heels or no heels?

I know some outfits would look better with heels. When I attend corporate events and startup pitch competitions, I see every woman around me walk in stilettos. It gives me a sense of freedom that I no longer adhere to this societal mandate that a woman’s power comes from the shoes she wears.

And that brings me to the final question I’d like to leave you with: should you or should you not wear high heels?

As with everything else in life: the choice is yours to make.

But even if you choose to wear high heels, I hope it’s not because the society (and a fashion industry with a huge marketing budget) made you believe the only way to appear powerful is by wearing uncomfortable shoes.

It’s great to have a freedom to choose what to wear. But isn’t it a show of power to know the reasoning behind the choices you make?

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