I Stopped Wearing Heels When I Became A Mother
BY DEBBIE KING, SUPAFITMAMA
Jan 18, 2018
My daughter was right. I hadn’t noticed, but she did. “Mom, you never wear high heels.” What was perhaps a simple observation from the mouth of my eight-year-old daughter, became an existential examination of my motherly being. Was not wearing heels a reflection of the woman I’d become with child?
Today my shoe selection is a matter of function and consequence of my lifestyle.
Fittingly, I confabbed with my most style-savvy and intellectual mom-friend — a woman with long spiralling dreadlocks, funky eyewear, vintage dresses, custom high tops, a nine-year-old son and a passion for the subject of style and society. Ironically, Onika and I discussed the matter as she sorted through her shoe closet, putting away all footwear too fragile for the harsh elements of the winter season.
“I’m not sure when I stopped wearing heels,” I confessed to Onika, gabbing in her bedroom like teens, while our children played upstairs. She understood that I was questioning more than my shoe selection. I was questioning whether motherhood had somehow stolen, altered or overshadowed the woman I was once.
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My modest collection of shoes includes runners specific for track and field training, a few neutral flats for day-to-day life and one pair of cold weather Cougar boots. And yes, tucked away in the pockets of my Ikea shoe organizer are exactly three pairs of heels: Cinderella-style slippers from my wedding, clear 4” heels left over from my years of figure competition (a division of bodybuilding) and my all-purpose black pumps.
I pondered whether motherhood had prompted me to hang up my heels, subconsciously abandoning the need or desire to accentuate parts of my body and present a sexualized persona.
It wasn’t always that way. Nine years ago, an extra two or three inches of height, and an ounce of flare were a common addition to any of my ensembles. During pregnancy I envisioned myself more yummy mummy than frumpy mom, as affirmed by my trendy gold-coloured diaper bag.
Today my shoe selection is a matter of function and consequence of my lifestyle. The majority of my days are spent writing from home, training at the gym and running around with my family. My primary modes of transportation are walking and public transit. For this, flats are most practical, allowing me to move swiftly, safely and comfortably through my days. I imagine many parents feel the same. And as a runner, high heels are ill-advised for anatomical and performance-related reasons.
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But could there be more to it? High heels have a long history entangled with ideas about feminism, sexuality and extravagance. I pondered whether motherhood had prompted me to hang up my heels, subconsciously abandoning the need or desire to accentuate parts of my body and present a sexualized persona. Or if I somehow felt that heels represented a measure of extravagance no longer afforded to one with the serious responsibility of raising a child?
During pregnancy I envisioned myself more yummy mummy than frumpy mom, as affirmed by my trendy gold-coloured diaper bag.
By late afternoon, Onika’s shoe closet and my thoughts on the matter were sorted. Flats and low heels are a practical solution that allow me to function well day-to-day. However, it’s fun, playful and important to break away from that routine. I am — and we are as parents — dynamic beings with many sides to our identities. Our clothing, accessories and, yes, high heels can be a healthy expression of that.
On the rare occasion when I do step into heels, I’m reminded of a sophisticated, stately or sassy side of myself that exists both apart from and alongside motherhood. Dressing up then becomes an act of self-care and authenticity in a way. So while practicality rules much of my days and style, I’m reminded, with thanks to my daughter, to keep making room in my life and shoe closet for expressions of my individual self and style.