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To me, the true mark of womanhood has always been obvious: owning a pair of black pumps. They’re classic, they’re badass, and they show you are a goddamn lady who is on her freaking game. Fashion icon Victoria Beckham went so far as to say: “I can’t concentrate in flats.” I mean, how much more obnoxiously superior can you get?
So I have patiently awaited the moment when, I too, will be inducted into the hall of adult femininity by owning and strutting in a high pair of heels with the poise of Kate Middleton and the ass of Blake Lively. I have waited, ready to trade in my half-price Topshop booties for something a little more elegant and little less Avril Lavigne.
I didn’t need to wear heels in high school. In college, I figured I’d just get it together later. When all you’re doing is going to see the same dudes and the same bars, is your lack of wedge really a factor in your game? (Hint: not a chance.) But I’m out of excuses now. I’ve had a full-time job—in fashion, mind you—for a year. And guess what? Nothing has changed.
Have you ever seen a girl all dressed up, rocking some absurdly vertical wedges, only to ogle her penguin walk and wonder how long it’ll be before ya girl takes a tumble down those stairs? It’s painful to watch that girl, sure. But do you know how painful it is to be that girl? Did I straight up tear my achilles tendon last summer trying to wear a pair of dual-toned blocked heels? It’s possible. This past weekend I spent a few hours in a pair of pathetically low wedges, and I spent the entire next day writhing in pain at my bleeding feet. I came out of the night with six bloody toes and 15 blisters. And damn, you thought stilettos were sexy? You ain’t seen nothing yet.
That’s not to say my footwear closet really needs any more additions. I have three shoe racks, a coat closet, a wardrobe, and three dresser drawers stuffed with shoes. And that’s not counting the out-of-season pairs I have stashed under my bed, and also in my room at my parents’ house. From limited edition pink Stan Smiths to full-on ‘90s heroin chic Doc Marten combat boots, my shoe collection knows no limitations. Except for heels.
I’m pretty comfortable with my mostly athletic-leaning aesthetic. That’s probably circumstantial – you’re allowed to wear whatever the hell you want in New York City and no one is going to call you out on it. It’s not until I visit friends, or go to family functions that I feel a powerful wave of inferiority. When my friends from high school go out, they toss on a bandage dress and strappy pumps without blinking. At weddings, I’m always looking a tinge out of place—sturdy block heels don’t really scream love and lace. Just last month, I was getting ready for my brother’s high school graduation when my mom came into my room. “Oh, Christine. Please tell me you’ll wear something ladylike? And maybe…not in black?”
But does anyone really care if I’m wearing high heels? Will I really be able to concentrate like Beckham if I teeter a few inches higher? Is it worth the blisters, the blood, and the broken bones sure to follow? Twenty-three is still considered a freshman adult age, right? Maybe I’ll give myself until 25, just to be sure. .