A Wedge Between Us: Why Do Men Hate Healthy Women’s Footwear?

Martin Margiela

Let me get this straight: we’re really going to let men decide that we can’t enjoy wedges anymore? I made it through the Kitten Heel Revolt of 2010 relatively unscathed and we’re still fighting the Cold War of the Ballet Flat but I cannot go quietly into the night this time. Wedges? Really? Let me back up a second and tell you why I think the debate is so utterly ridiculous.

I love shoes. In my apartment, an entire closet of precious New York City real estate is occupied by these accessories of fashion and practicality alone. Now I don’t have any Louboutins but I think I do alright with my assortment of footwear. Labels aren’t as important to me as style which used to trump just about all else when purchasing a shoe. However, as a 30 year-old running around this huge metropolis, comfort is increasingly of concern.

That’s why I cannot understand this anti-wedge rhetoric spewed on blogs, Twitter and message boards. Wedges are comfortable. You get the general benefit of a heel (height, extra tone in your leg, elongated leg appearance) but with the addition of comfort and stability (except in some extreme cases). Let the fashion blogs and mags tell it, wedges have been and will continue to be “in.” Ever tried to wear heels to a backyard BBQ? It’s hard to be cute in your new sundress if you’re two inches deep into some Carolina Red Clay. Want to ride your bike to Prospect Park but look cute in your short shorts once you get there? Better to do it in a wedge instead of a four inch peep-toe pump. Women who are into how they look and into being practical feel me.

Unsuprisingly, it’s men who are leading the charge against wedges. According to Lauren (@Lauthechef), wedges have been called everything from “the mom jeans of shoes” to “mobile chalupas.” Phonte, who you may know from Little Brother and Foreign Exchange, has likened wedges to minivans. Misha, aka @TheFabChick, conducted a non-scientific, purely anecdotal survey of her own to see what men thought about wedges:

Orlando says: They look like fake heels. There’s nothing sexy about them. The point of a woman’s heel is sexy; the wedge doesn’t offer that visual at all.

Mougabe says: It just compromises that classic feminine appeal. It looks like yall wearing big a** bricks on your feet. I know they are WAY more comfy than heels but f*ck that. Looking sexy to your fullest potential should always be painful. **laughs**

Shydel says: Wedges are a cop out! If you going to wear a shoe with a heel, it needs to be skinny and high! Case closed. Part of the appeal and the sexiness of a heel is to watch a woman walk and teeter in them with confidence and swagger. You don’t get that in a wedge. Anybody can walk in that. **laughs**

It’s no secret that men like heels, many women love them too. I own more than a few pair of high-heeled shoes myself and I have no plans to trash them any time soon. But I’m miffed at the fact that all shoes of comfort – flats, low heels, wedges – are being labeled off-limits because men deem them unsexy.

The Huffington Post reported on a study from the Journal of Applied Physiology that unsurprisingly links habitual high heel wear to “risk for permanent physiological damage to their knees, hips, back and tendons — and damage can be seen in women as young as 25 years old.” The medical community understands that 86’ing the heels altogether would be nearly impossible to do, so what do they offer as a way to mitigate the damage brought upon by our fetish for teeter-tottering on sticks? The so-called mom-jeans of shoes:

 Choose A Wedge: Any heel that offers more surface area is putting less stress on the ball of the foot, so go with a chunky heel, wedge or even a platform.

Pro-Tip: Just like it’s important to switch out the lacy underwear and thongs for good old cotton underwear for your vaginal health, a girl’s gotta switch up the footwear to make sure her feet, legs and back remain intact.

Originally, both men and women wore heels through the 18th century. The shoe’s capacity for altering human posture was exerted mostly on women as it forced the stomach in and the breasts out, drawing in the back, making the pelvis more prominent, straightening the knees, and making the thighs firmer. That’s your sexy right there (but also the source of your health problems – that arching of the back and forward thrust of the pelvis is compensation for the instability caused by the heels). Historians note that after a brief respite during the Enlightenment period, high heels made a resurgence in the late 19th century during industrialization. Whereas the employed bourgeois men needed practical clothing, their bourgeois wives – remitted to the private family sphere, “remained true to the ideal of visible idleness” for which the “erotic-unpractical high-heel shoe” attained representative status.

I say this not to get you to step away from your stilettos , but so you understand that there are very good reasons to keep wearing wedges if you like them. You should also be aware of the history of these sexy images and that what men deem sexy about heels directly conflicts with what’s best for your health and comfort. I guess if you’re going to ruin your back, might as well do it because you want to and not because some guy on Twitter says so. Personally, I have yet to see any man turn his nose (or other body parts) from an attractive woman because the heel of her shoe was too stable.

Last 5 posts by Nakia D. Hansen