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Miss U R’Bonney Gabriel had to endure high heels, can you?

by Malou Talosig-Bartolome

“I’M looking forward to a foot massage,” Miss Universe 2022 R’Bonney Gabriel shared during the press conference immediately after the coronation night.

A foot massage might be trivial for some, as she beamed a smile while sharing that piece of information about herself.

But behind that giggle is the excruciating pain that she had to endure. In fact, she was wearing a six-inch heels during the coronation night.

For women who have undergone rigid pageant training, one of the first skills they need to master is to walk in stilettos or high-heeled shoes.

Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray said training to achieve her famous lava strut was not a walk in the park. She had to train in six-inch pedestals first, and perfect the art of twirling. Then when she was already capable of twirling in six-inch shoes, she downgraded to five- to four-inch heels for that “I-feel-like-flying” comfort zone.

What is it with high-heeled shoes? Why you should reconsider wearing one, if you are not dreaming to be another Pia Wurtzbach or Catriona Gray?

Let’s see what science says about high heels.

High heels make women ‘attractive’

A 2021 study in the US showed women wearing high heels appear more sexually attractive, and are perceived to have higher status and to be more feminine.

Researchers asked 448 college students from Northeastern US to answer the questions related to their perception on silhouette images.

People rated the silhouette wearing heels as “more attractive – both physically and sexually” than the silhouette wearing flats. The results also supported earlier studies that women in high heels appear “more feminine and less masculine.”

This study, “On a pedestal: High Heels and the perceived attractiveness and evolutionary fitness of women” was published in Personality and Individual Differences last April 2022.

How high heels cause permanent damage to your body

Many women complain that wearing high heels or stilettos is painful. But some had to endure it. A lot said they are already used to it.

But foot doctors or podiatrists advise women against wearing high heels regularly.

Here are some of the consequences for wearing heels regularly:

  1. Soreness, inflation and pain in the lower back caused by heels unequal distribution of weight
  2. Sore calf muscles that can lead to protruding veins. These protruding veins not only looks appalling but are also extremely painful too
  3. Foot ache – a sharp pain in your toes, sole, arch and heel.
  4. Ankle sprains or worse, broken ankles, bruised elbows and knees, if you walk on heels and slip on uneven surfaces such as cobblestones, bumps or potholes
  5. Painful upper and lower back due to tendency of the spinal column to curve to adjust to balancing
  6. Constricted blood vessels.
  7. Crooked feet
  8. Weakened ligaments
  9. Knee pain
  10. Hyperextension in toes
  11. Metatarsalgia
  12. Stress fractures
  13. Bunions
  14. Morton’s Neuroma
  15. Hammertoes
  16. Plantar Fasciitis

No choice but to wear heels? Read this first

If you still need to wear heels, perhaps part of the job requirement or you simply have a date or a party, don’t fret. Here are some tips the American Podiatric Medical Association has offered when wearing heels:

  1. Wear only two-inch heels or below. Kitten heels or height less than one inch may be a good idea
  2. Never wear high stilettos with pointy, closed toe.
  3. If buying stilettos, choose those with extra wide toe box area and well-cushioned front end the shoe
  4. Wear rubber shoes or flats during commute. Then change into high heels after you arrive at the office
  5. Platforms or wedges are not the best alternatives either. This style tend to have rigid foot beds, and can compromise your balance and stability. Don’t choose platforms with heels that are much higher than the toe. Choose lower platforms and wedges that has ankle straps.

Marilyn Monroe once said: “Give a girl the right pair of shoes in she’ll conquer the world.” Indeed high heels can make heads turn. But what will it do if you can no longer walk and conquer the world? Consider the odds.

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