One of my best friends is getting married early next year and I will be travelling to Ghana and then on to Nigeria to celebrate this special time in her life. No doubt, it will be a beautiful and moving moment to share in such joyous celebrations and I'm definitely not a blubberer, but for this occasion I'll be keeping a tissue at the ready just in case!
When I got my informal invite over the phone, I did a little happy dance for her as she ran through various aspects of the preparation and planning that would have to go into the event and I got caught up thinking about all the tiny details that go into wedding planning and momentarily switched off until she issued that terrifying imperative: "...and Sharms, you must wear heels".
*cue the dramatic music*
Heels! As though I don't have enough to stress me out with applying for this Nigerian visa and having to get a yellow fever vaccination- now I have to navigate the ever-so-agonising topic of these impractical shoes that serve no purpose but to separate us women into two categories of:
A: Those who can slip into heels effortlessly with elegance, poise and grace. Not only have they mastered the art of balancing motionless on these stilt-like shoe extensions, but they can do all kinds of impressive tricks like walking in a straight line, dancing and even running, seemingly without a hint of trepidation.
B: Those like me, who stumble into and out of heels and have all the elegance, poise and grace of an intoxicated Bambi. We can just about stand motionless if propped up by a hand rail, wall or kind and understanding sympathiser, but even this is hard work and painful. Such is the terror that grips us when we have to walk, that we move so slowly, we are in danger of being overtaken by tortoises and snails and only succeed in attracting unwanted stares. And even at this pace, we look like we have been shot in the knee caps and will go down at any second.
Personally, I like to be able to have the option of sprinting at full speed if I need to and so most days I am walking round in trainers, which suits me fine because I seldom let a bus get away from me if I want to catch it and God knows I wouldn't be able to do that in heels. Now I'm not anticipating there will be anything to flee from at my friend's wedding, except possibly the odd unwanted suitor, but I do want to feel comfortable on the day. And in heels I don't feel comfortable- I feel unsteady, awkward, clumsy and self-conscious.
It was at this point in the conversation that my thought process meandered through the drastic and down-right bizarre alternatives I could consider, like feigning a leg injury that required the use of crutches and forbade me from wearing heels. Or, making some shoes with a retractable heel that were controlled by a remote conveniently small enough to fit into my clutch bag. It was only after realising how ridiculous these options were and how neurotic this heel-wearing order had made me, that I started thinking about how wearing heels, particularly to special occasions, has been so much of an issue in social situations.
While on holiday in Cannes earlier this year, my friends and I went to a bar and two of us were dismissed at the door because we weren't wearing heels. I'm not an avid club/ bar-goer in London and so I don't usually have to deal with the rage and indignation I felt at that moment, which was directed towards the doorman who was just 'doing his job', I guess. Unfortunately the language barrier and the desire to keep the peace for the sake of friends who wanted to enter the bar, caused me to walk back to our apartment to change into some supported heels rather than boycotting the establishment! And similarly the following night, it caused me to suffer several hours of clubbing in St Tropez, in the highest pair of heels I have ever worn, begrudgingly.
For this, I tarnsih with blame the likes of vacuous women's fashion magazines, Gok Wan and all those other make-over show hosts for imprinting images and messages in women's heads that seem to imply that a woman needs to wear heels to feel confident, beautiful or feminine. [I blame Gok Wan for many things, including putting women into some mystical trance in order to strip them naked in front of a shopping centre full of people, something these women wouldn't normally contemplate if their clothes were on fire. Yes, Auntie Gok has a lot to answer for, but that's another rant altogether!]
I flipped through a women's magazine recently, and in every image where a woman's feet were visible (apart from those where female celebrities were being scrutinised for cellulite and stretch marks in impromptu, unflattering bikini shots on the beach, where heels are not YET deemed necessary) she was wearing a heeled shoe. Like my mother, I like to ask the question 'why' and if there is no good reason why I can't do something, more often than not I am going to do it, regardless of whether it breaks with social expectations or not! However, from what I have heard, I am likely to be the only postpubescent female at this wedding not wearing heels, if I choose to do so. And I don't want to be the one standing out, making some kind of statement by deliberately wearing the most orthapaedic-looking shoes I can find and drawing attention to myself, on her big day.
Well anyway, I ended the phone conversation with my friend by agreeing to wear some kind of heeled shoes so I guess I just have to find some appropriate heeled shoes that I can walk in...
Me 0 - 1 Heels
Now just for giggles, let's watch a video of what I might look like at my friend's wedding walking into the church!