Guest blogger, adwoman, fashion editor and indy writer at large , Priya Mirchandani puts her best foot forward, one vertiginous heel at a time only to find herself rendered supine. Some serious ‘sole’ searching follows:)
So I’m lying on my stomach, biting down on a pillow, with about a hundred needles sticking out of my weeping back and butt. As the physiotherapist wiggles the needles one by one, to ‘traumatise the muscle tissue’, my nerves jangle and short circuit with pain.
Once every muscle is begging for mercy, the gargantuan needles are pulled out and my back is pounded and pummeled with hard bony elbows, until even my dog can’t take the cries any more and starts yelping with concern.
Lying immobile, with my dignity as well as pillow in tatters, there’s only one thing I can do- I float away to find myself looking down on a beautiful French square, decked with a giant guillotine.
Down comes the blade with a delicious thwack and off plops the uber-creative heel by Monsieur Louboutin. The pain in my back drops a notch, as the same scene replays in my head with the irresistible Senor Blahnik’s this time, followed quickly by the wicked wicked Choo monsters.
The grand finale is the ancient Chinese foot binding ceremony, the feet being that of the Emperor of the Tang Dynasty, the initiator of the evil Lotus Shoe foot fetish.
It ends on a ’ Look ma, no feet!’ note, and the pain in my back is almost gone now, at least if I lie still.
Seven weeks and as many shredded pillows later, my back is purple with bruises, and numb with constant icing, but hallelujah, I can walk! Without pain too.
What happened? My para-spinal and glute muscles apparently went on a sudden and utterly sans-warning protest against years of abuse. I cringe as I say the word, but I am told, that’s just what it was.
Twenty-five non-stop years of perching aloft 4-inch high pencil-points, for about ten hours a day.
Versus 4 years of chakrasanas, i.e. inverse cartwheel stretches, as a sly compensation for the pelvic mayhem. The math obviously doesn’t add up.
My back seizes up, mimicking the symptoms of a slipped disc or two. It takes a cocktail of tummy-wrenching drugs, heat diathermy, magnetic support belts, pain patches, physiotherapy and finally the dry needling and deep tissue manipulation, to get me back on my feet.
The pain therapist tells me to steer clear of heels, and in fact urges me to read up on the long-term impact of heels on the human body. I click my tongue like an exasperated teen, and force myself to keep the promise I have made to the man who has erased my pain and returned to me the gift of locomotion.
What I read makes my jaw drop, and as I research deeper, I am convinced that in the list of things we do to torture ourselves in the name of beauty, high heels are right up there.
Oh but they make us feel good, right? How good can permanently shortened calf muscles, distended and misaligned pelvic girdles, severely compressed lumbar vertebrae and vulnerable core muscles feel?
Add arthritis, tendonitis, nerve damage, tissue deformity and joint pain to that list.
Not to mention the wee little things like eternal blisters, shoe bites, calluses, bunions, corns, mangled toes… but this stuff doesn’t even register on the Richter scale of pain anymore.
Hell yeah, I felt fantastic for 25 years, teetering around in strappy sandals and steel-tipped stilettos.
Until I crumbled into a heap that stayed horizontal for 7 weeks.
I still need an ice pack as a nightcap, every night.
I buy myself a rather sharp pair of buckled loafers, a pair of tasseled nubuck moccasins, and a set of ballerinas that feel like I’m walking on pillows made of goose down.
The metallic pewter gladiators are pretty awesome too. And the happy butter-yellow Keds, just adorable!
Yet every morning I find myself drawn to the shelf of banished shoes, where I stare longingly at the unbearably delicious assortment of delectables.
The satanic red soled Louboutin sling-backs mock me, the crimson Choos snigger and the divine Monolos… they just haunt me like the ghosts of my own youth.
Stop it, I tell myself. It’s time to get that bonfire going, to light the bonfire of my vanities and cremate the desires that fetter the soul,(not to mention my poor toes). It’s time to be the good Hindu I was brought up to be.
Next thing I know, the Blahniks have wrapped themselves around my ankles and I’m kissing the clouds, high on bliss…
What can I say, except, ‘Hi, my name is Priya Mirchandani and I’m a heelaholic.”