Well, at least he looked unusual. But as I thought more and more about it, I realized that I was the funny looking one! My, what my great great great great grandmothers would have thought about what I was wearing to work every day!
(Note: These photos all came from Google Images and are not my actual work shoes -- which are at least slightly more practical. I am just trying to make a *point*)
For weeks and weeks he tried to persuade me that I should get myself a pair just like his. He was happy, he told me. His feet were happy. He was free. He was getting stronger. I believed him, but wasn't ready to look funny. (Even though, as previously discussed, I already looked funny). I knew he was right --- after all, I'm of the opinion that we should eat whole and natural foods, that we can birth naturally as easily as any other primate, and that in general we should stay as close to the earth as possible. So what on earth am I doing in high heels?!
Then Melissa introduced me to Katy Bowman's blog. After spending literally hours, day after day, devouring everything I could about proper alignment, pelvic floor strength, natural mothering, etc. etc. etc., it was confirmed that my husband was not alone in his shoe madness. Not only that --- I understood (finally, scientifically) that heels are not just uncomfortable and impractical, they are really really bad for us. They can lead to weak pelvic floor muscles, organ prolapse, misaligned bones and muscles, and completely underused (and potentially useless) feet. Katy spends a lot of time talking about how our foot muscles and bones are meant to be as agile as our hands --- and can be --- if we don't stuff them into tight shoe boxes from day one.
So this is me now!
These are Vibram Five Finger shoes. They allow your toes to spread and flex like they were always meant to do, and offer a minimal sole that allows you to rest your weight over your heels --- exactly where it is meant to be. (They can be expensive brand new! Around $100. But my husband and I found deals online for brand new pairs with free shipping --- closer to $35, $40 dollars. If you are interested in some sites, read my comment below this post.)
Okay, okay, I still wear heels to work and church. (Never uncomfortable ones, though! I've been *above* that for a while now). But I am going to wean myself off of them by finding attractive alternatives. Well, it's a goal. I confess that being short I really like the way I look with a couple extra inches, and this is making it hard for me. But seriously, "If ye believe all these things, see that ye do them."
9/2012 Update: I now never wear heels, even to church and especially not to work.
Read this entry from Katy for a general overview. Here is a particularly good *point* from that post: "Podiatric journals have recently become riddled with articles illustrating that for every positive degree of heel (for a point of reference, the one inch found on a man’s dress shoe creates an average angle of twelve degrees) there is a resulting angle of deformation in the lumbar spine, pelvis, knees and/or ankle. There is no footwear characteristic that jars one out of whole-body alignment faster than the positive heel. If a dress shoe creates twelve positive degrees, just think about what a stiletto can do to deform the rest of the body." Of course, barefoot is best.
A word of warning: you have been wearing normal shoes your whole life. Unless you have been spending the majority of your time barefoot already, you need to work up to running in these shoes. I have no trouble wearing them for hours at a time doing normal activities like shopping and hiking, but Katy warns that you need to be training on a variety of surfaces, particularly natural surfaces with elevation changes and rocky obstacles, before you use them for running. My husband is already running a few miles at a time in his though, and feels great.
I am happy. My body feels so much more aligned and agile already. My feet are stronger and more flexible, and free at last.