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April 4, 2009

Go flats! Fashionista first ladies demonstrate the style power of low-heeled shoes

No, this has absolutely nothing to do with Walnut Creek city affairs, though Walnut Creek is known for trendy shops selling not only clothes but top-of-the-line ladies' footwear.

Could it be--please--that women's Sex and the City-esque love affair with Manolo Blahniks and other stiletto-heeled shoe designs might be waning? Could flats and other low-heeled shoes be making a serious comeback, thanks to Michelle Obama and to Carla Bruno-Sarkozy, the former super model turned first lady of France? Both women sported very stylish (and comfortable-looking) low-heeled shoes and flats when they met in France this week (with their world leader husbands, of course) for the G20 meeting.

A co-worker, who is much more fashion-conscious than I am (and always wears chic-looking flats) assured me that flats have been coming back for a long time. I wondered, though, especially after Gwyneth Paltrow was seen parading the red carpet this past summer (to promote the blockbuster Iron Man) in skyscraper-high, six- and seven-inch heels.

It seemed like the fashion world was going gaga over these ridiculously high shoes, even as articles appeared, quoting medical experts about the long-term health consequences of wearing high heels daily: poor posture and body alignment, back and leg pain, nerve damage, sciatica.

Then Barack Obama took office, and his wife was hailed as the new international fashion icon. One thing fashion writers were watching (beyond Michelle Obama's penchant for baring her arms) was her preference for low or flat heels.


I was delighted. I'm a tall gal, so I was always self-conscious, especially in my teens, of wearing heels and towering over everyone--especially boys and men. Also, I always found high heels to be uncomfortable, but I often wore them anyway, especially in my early work days, because I felt like fashion dictated that I do. I never felt powerful or sexy striding around in heels--as the Carrie Bradshaws of the world would have us believe. I just felt hobbled and annoyed that walking a few blocks from car to office--or even from one desk to another--could be painful.

As I became more comfortable with my height, I also became comfortable with the idea of not wearing heels. And of being more true to myself and my own comfort. I like to feel like I can move in my every day life.

So, it's nice to read in the Huffington Post style pages that Obama and Bruni-Sarkozy share a preference for flat footware.

Of course, the article had to point out that these women might go for low heels because they don't want to stand taller than they already are or much taller than their husbands:

"Granted, both women already stand tall: Michelle Obama is 5'11" while Bruni-Sarkozy, a former model, is said to be 5'9". President Barack Obama stands 6'1" 1/2, but President Nicolas Sarkozy is a mere 5'5", which helps explain why his wife would wear flats."


Maybe the first lady of France wears flats, not out of deference for her husband's possible sensivity about being short, but because she finds flats more comfortable to wear. She does it
for herself, not for him. The same could be said for Michelle Obama.

They are busy, active women, even in their hostess, figurehead roles as first ladies. They probably have to shuttle from meeting to meeting and event to event, at which they have to stand for lengths of time. The last thing they need in their busy days is sore feet, sore legs, or sore backs.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you completely. I gave up on heels years ago, and marvel at what women will put up with in the name of fashion.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I agree with the writer who theorized that both women probably left their heels in the closet out of deference to Sarkozy. On the other hand, I'm short and I much prefer flats or walkable-height shoes to high-high heels -- and my Sarkozy comment is not intended as a slap at short men, who I concluded in my 30s often make better kisses and better lovers than taller men. But I digress! (and to bring this subject full circle, give me Barack Obama over Sarkoszy any day.)

Anna said...

I still wonder how any "Mommy" can run around in high heals. I'm only 2 years into Motherhood...but forget it, no heals for me!

I see the ladies all dressed up, and barely able to walk, while holding their babies, or chasing their toddlers. Even saw a lady at Lindsey Museum last week. Lindsey has a Monday event just for toddlers.

The "Mommy" I speak of looked like a fashion model, snakeskin pants and high heals. Now that I think of it. Snakeskin pants seem like an odd fabric to wear to Lindsey Museum!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that Michelle Obama finally contributed something positive to society. Now she can retire...