Fashion 101: Pain Is Beauty

I love high heels. Not in the Carrie Bradshaw “walking 40 blocks in $400 shoes” Manolo fetishist kind of way, or anything. I just love them. I love that they are pretty. I love that they are womanly and glamorous. I love that they make me taller. I love the way my legs look in them. But most of all, I love that they make me feel powerful. I love my high heels, but they do not return my love. In fact, they turned on me.

A few weeks back, I noticed soreness in my foot; I ignored it. I began walking with a limp; I still ignored it. It got so bad that last week, after a lovely dinner with girlfriends, my friend Ana had to literally carry me home on her back when we couldn’t get a cab because it hurt too much to walk even a few steps. So I broke down and went to the doctor. And it turns out I have a stress fracture.

According to Wikipedia, as stress fracture is a “type of incomplete fracture in bones.” It is caused by “unusual or repeated stress.” This is in contrast to other types of fractures, which are “usually characterized by a solitary, severe impact.”

People usually get stress fractures from extreme running or high impact activities, but sometimes they get them from walking around the streets of New York City in 3-inch fricking heels. So yeah, you could say I’m bitter. Not only am I banned from wearing high heels for 6 weeks, I am forced to hobble around the city in an orthopedic boot! Sure, it also hurts like hell, but mere physical pain I can live with. What’s probably worse than wearing the boot is that I don’t even have a cool story to tell when people ask me what’s wrong. I can’t say that I had a kite boarding accident in Maui, or that I was rappelling in the Amazon. No, I have this injury because I am vain and drawn to impractical footwear.

But all of this feeling sorry for myself has led me to thinking about all of the other ways we may put our physical safety at risk for beauty. Surely I am not the only vain idiot that end up in the doctor’s office because of fashion!

Meralgia Paresthetica

You can seriously mess up your nerves from skinny jeans. I remember reading a story about this last year.

It turns out, all of this flagrant skinny-jean wearing had been causing women to develop ‘meralgia paresthetica,’ also know as “tingling thigh syndrome.” I had 5 people email me this story. Women who develop this condition complain of numbness in the leg and describe a “tingly, floating” feeling. As scary is this sounds, this condition is not very serious. The cure? Switching to looser pants. That’s it. No irreversible damage, just don’t wear tight jeans! Um, okay. Maybe this epidemic is what led to the evolution of the jegging.  Maybe jeggings were borne out of an actual medical necessity. Somehow, that makes them seem easier to justify.

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    • pookie

      Don’t feel too bad, Brooke. I had to walk around in an orthopedic boot for 3 weeks — during Fashion Week while I was working for a fashion magazine no less! — because my podiatrist thought *I might* have a stress fracture. Because sometimes they don’t show up on x-rays for a few weeks. Guess what? I didn’t. I had a soft tissue sprain along the top of my foot. Turns out heels can cause that, too.

      • Brooke Moreland

        Damn heels!!

    • Hanna

      cheer up brooke! i wore my 3-inch heels and fell, injuring my ankle in vain. it’s been a li’l over 2 months now… haven’t fully recovered yet. all i’ve been wearing is my ankle support and sandals, just waiting to heal. i heard it’ll take me at least 6 months :(

    • Jen Dziura

      Nothing wrong with bags on wheels if they are stylish. I searched the city for a gorgeous Italian leather bag on wheels — now it just looks like I’m about to go on the most glamorous trip EVER.

      Hmmn, actually I just went looking for a link to demonstrate, and this kind of bag was way harder to find than I thought (mine isn’t on the internet). Here’s an OK one:

      Also, if you have to carry 40 lbs of stuff, a wheeled bag makes it physically possible to wear heels, where actually carrying your stuff would hobble you instantly. So the clunkiness of the bag is compensated for by the enhanced attractiveness of, you know … the woman. IMHO.