Hi, my name is Jamie Peck and I can’t wear high heels.

I know, wow, my life sucks and you should feel really bad for me. But it’s okay. Allow me to back up a bit and explain.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that the women in my family have terrible feet. My mom, for example, was always (and remains!) ridiculously beautiful above the ankles, but like the painting in the attic, her feet are as ugly as the rest of her is pretty. Some of my earliest memories involve being frightened of them. I’d post a picture, but she doesn’t allow her feet to be photographed.

The reason my mom’s feet look like this is because she has bunion bones. We all do. Basically, this means that the bones in our feet grow the wrong way so that our big toes point outwards and mess with the rest of our toes, too. People with bunion bones are supposed to wear ugly, flat, supportive shoes for their whole lives or risk horrible pain and deformity. But that’s no fun! Blithely ignoring doctor recommendations, my mom was a dancer for many years, which is hard on even normal feet. Then later, when she became a lawyer, she wore a lot of high heels and shoulder pads, because that’s what lady-lawyers wore in the 80s. Now she’s a retired lawyer who still loves to take dance classes, but it’s never a given how much longer she’ll be able to keep doing it.

My mom didn’t want my feet to end up like hers, so she’s always impressed upon me the importance of sensible shoes. This was a hard message for me to swallow at first. High heels are hot! They make your legs appear longer and more slender! And when I realized 5’4″ was as tall as I was going to get, I wanted to be able to increase my stature, because I’d rather be a loud, domineering tall person than a loud, domineering short person. Just think of the stereotypes.

Throughout my teens and early twenties, I occasionally experimented with high heels (maybe I just hadn’t found the right ones yet?) but always found I could only wear them for an hour or so before I had shooting pains. It’s for this reason that I wore sneakers with everything well into my twenties. But because I am a grown-up lady now, I try not to do that anymore. (At least not all the time.) Complicating things is the fact that I’m a vegan and won’t buy new leather. Buying shoes is a fucking nightmare for me. At any given time, I have approximately two pairs of shoes that I wear. I wear them until they wear out, and then I get them fixed. If I can’t get them fixed, I begin the dreaded process all over again. I hate shoe shopping!  [tagbox tag=”high heels”]

I could always get the surgery to have my feet fixed, but the thing is this: they don’t bother me that much, so long as I don’t try to wear heels. Bunion surgery is an arduous process that involves breaking both your feet and re-setting the bones the right way. Because it’s a bad idea to have two broken feet at once, this means you spend the better part of a year walking with crutches. I do not want to wear sexy shoes badly enough to put myself through this.

I guess my purpose in writing this is two-fold: to ask for advice on where to get shoes that are not totally ugly, and to say that wearing high heels is by no means necessary. Unlike in my mom’s time, it’s much more socially acceptable than it used to be to wear flats. There are lots of good-looking flat shoes out there, and some of them even come in wide. I’ve also embraced my shortness, because I’m not getting any taller. It actually has a few advantages; I can date short guys, for example, without having to worry about it being awkward. (I’ve always had a thing for shrimpy little dudes.) And some people think being short makes you cute, like a leprechaun. I’ll take it.

And if anyone has any advice on where to get non-leather shoes that look good and feel nice on my poor, deformed feet, I’ll take that, too. Because I love the ankle boots I’ve been wearing every day, but those won’t be much help in the summer time. Post your suggestions in the comments, please and thank you.