Clair McFarland: High Heels Are Only Useful For Kicking Bad Guys In The Throat

High heels are the cigarettes of shoes. They’ll soon be known for their health risks, relegated to glass cupboards at the store and advertised amid disclaimers.  

Clair McFarland

November 03, 20234 min read

Clair new column shot
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Take nothing I say as medical advice.  

I started piling up my high-heeled shoes for a bonfire weeks ago, but my Firstborn son suggested I give them away instead.  

“Who would want them?” I asked. To me, high heels are the cigarettes of shoes. They’ll soon be known for their health risks, relegated to glass cupboards at the store and advertised amid disclaimers.  

But I had so many of them.  

I used to wear high heels all the time. To high school, to college, to work, right into marriage and motherhood. On 4-inch heels, I’m The Husband’s height. On 6-inch heels I’m taller than he is. Which puts me in charge.  

I shoved my feet into those things until my toes scrunched together; my metatarsals bowed and my calf muscles shortened.  

The phases of my life in shoe years are as follows: 

  • Knee-high, heeled black boots – working in a motorcycle store 
  • Stilettos – dating an older guy 
  • Clunky-heeled sandals – college  
  • Spike-heeled cowgirl boots – marrying that older guy 
  • Granny flats – having four sons and landing a job that requires me to hop fences. 

I decided to keep the flats of motherhood and donate my youth to the local thrift store.  

It wasn’t easy.  

How beautiful were these shoes! I admired them as I chucked them into the plastic bin. Their feminine extravagance is an ideal to which I once aspired, for reasons I can’t remember. But the lingering essence of it, entwined with suede and leather scents, tugged at me on its way into the bin.  

Then I snapped the lid shut on all that useless beauty and never looked at it again.  

See, the human foot is the real masterpiece: an arch made of 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 tendons, muscles and ligaments. Five slow points emerge from it. They shove imperceptibly, alternately against the ground while listening to each other and signaling the brain in the underrated miracle of balancing.  

The body propels forward in a controlled fall known as walking. It spins in dance. It kicks through water. It leaps for joy. And it does all of this on the fine-boned filigree of its most neglected part.   

Though a triumph of human ingenuity, the arches of Saint Peter’s Basilica can’t spring themselves across a ravine and land intact. They pale next to the arched genius of my dusty feet (and yours).  

Firstborn has sworn off heeled shoes too. You know the kind of running shoes with “heel support” and “arch support” that are actually designed to addict your feet to their brand by warping the foot’s natural, ugly functionality.  

But as he watched me park at the thrift store, Firstborn imagined what it would be like to have a cool vigilante mom in tall black boots who would pick him up from school in a Hummer and take him to Chicago to throat-kick bad guys.   

“Are you sure you don’t even want to keep ONE pair?” asked Firstborn.  

I lurched the car into park. I thought of the miles I’ve run, and how many foot exercises I had to do to get my feet running again after a set of “heel support” running shoes gave me plantar fasciitis.  

I had to scrunch a towel with my toes and walk barefoot on gravel, every day, for years. Finally, I learned to run again, and I did it in heel-less running shoes.  

Why would I ruin my feet again for some beauty standard? And for that matter, what else are we humans doing to corrupt ourselves in the name of appeal? Shouldn't we be trying, simply, to get from point A to point B and keep our souls in the process?

“And why,” I asked, turning toward Firstborn, “would anyone build Saint Peter’s Basilica on a HILLSIDE?” 

Firstborn wondered where Saint Peter’s Basilica is. His visions of being a mother-son vigilante team faded with each climbing syllable.   

“They wouldn’t,” I said. “So, I’m not wearing high heels. Ever. Again.”  

And I lugged my useless shoes into the thrift store, where you can buy them, if you dare.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter