Several years ago, my mother began experiencing searing pain in her legs. Like an electric shock, it started from her feet and shot all the way up to her thighs. She went to a number of doctors, did so many tests, and was diagnosed with every illness under the sun. Finally, she went to a doctor here in Kuwait who was as shrewd and smart as he was zany. He diagnosed her from the moment she walked into his office.

The culprit, according to him? Flats. Yes, flats. Apparently, my mother had been wearing flats everyday and everywhere, forgoing anything with the tiniest bit of heel, for so many years now that her body was applying pressure to the wrong parts of her feet. He told her that the proper shoes everyone should wear (including men) were ones that have an elevated heel. Ideally, the maximum heel height should be approximately 6cm, and the shoes you wear should create an arch in the middle of your foot. Notice the way you walk in any of your shoes. If the pressure is on your heel, and your foot lies flat on the sole, then the design is completely wrong. After sessions of physiotherapy to repair the damage that was done, and after wearing the recommended heels, my mother has never complained of any pain.

Those who know me can attest to the fact that I’m prone to walking around in heels not necessarily when going out, but also when shopping and even at my girlfriends’ gatherings at home. And I know I’m not the only one with this ‘problem’. To tell you the truth, I’d rather walk like a Geisha in heels that pinch, rather than wear flats that blister my feet and completely downgrade my outfit. I’m not short, I’m 5 ft 6”, but what’s so bad about trying to look taller (and slimmer)?

I know that in the eyes of the opposite sex, heels probably look like a beautiful yet torturous device. Before they judge, however, they have to know that heels come in all shapes, types and height. The main 3 styles are stilettos, pumps, platforms. In terms of comfort, platforms, including wedges, are the most comfortable and stilettos the least.

That said, however, some of my most comfortable shoes are heels. There are some pretty good brands that make ones you can wear over and over and over. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought flats, only to discard them after they proved to be torture to my feet.

The most important thing you should look for, in both flats and heels, is quality and design. To me, quality trumps price anytime. This doesn’t mean that all designer brands or expensive shoes are of good quality. Most of the time, they are of excellent quality but they do not always have comfortable designs. The opposite is true for cheap shoes. They are usually of mediocre or poor quality, and they sometimes have comfortable designs. In my experience, designer brands equal quality, but not necessarily comfort. My most expensive designer shoes are still around today even after a couple of years of wear (and no tear). My tallest stilettos are 5” Jimmy Choo’s which I bought a few years ago, and they are my go-to pair for evening dresses and soirees. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worn them, but they have justified every single penny of their price. I also have some designer brands which are damaging to my feet, but are masterpieces in their design.

Wearing an elevated heel improves your posture, albeit temporarily. It makes you taller, tightens your thigh and calf muscles, visually subtracts 10 pounds off your figure and creates the illusion of long legs. Although the benefits to wearing high heels are more visual than medical, I think we all know who the winner here is, don’t we?

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, just fashion advice from a heel fanatic.

– Alya Al-Othman

Image: Christian Louboutin




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