What Your Shoes Say About You

May 26, 2017

I used to have a theory that you could learn a lot about a person and what is important to them by their shoes and their collection of books.

My library is diverse and extensive with sections organized around art, interior design, cultural history, travel guides, yoga, Buddhism and meditation, Jewish studies and spirituality, personal growth, women’s studies, collections of mythology and folk tales, parenting and child development, birth, sexuality, cooking and poetry.

Many women have equally extensive shoes collections but mine is less exciting. I can usually be found in Merrell boots or Dansko clogs. While I have always had a thing for the retro platform, you will not find me in high heels.

Why I don’t wear high heels and how we can stop being like Cinderella’s step-sisters.

I remember taking a women’s studies class and reading about the connection between the old Chinese tradition of foot-binding and high-heel shoes.

Both can cripple women and increase their dependency on a [male] protector. In contrast the protector seems strong and solid.

They take away her power to stand firm, grounded and centered in her body and inhibit the ability to run away. They create a sense that she can easily fall over or get blown away by a strong wind. Of course there are other interpretations but this description struck a chord for me.
Teaching yoga in my twenties, I observed many young women barefoot in my classes with deformed feet. One of my bosses had to have surgeries on both feet to correct the damage from wearing narrow pointy heels that conformed to the fashion for a woman in business at the time.

I, too, had spent nights dancing in shoes that pinched and created blisters just because they looked good. One day, I went to a podiatrist for the first time and was shocked to discover that I had the beginnings of bunions. This is when the bone starts to point interiorly as the foot changes shape from shoes that squeeze the toes.
It was subtle but that was all it took. I made a vow then and there to take care of my feet. Despite more limited shoe choices, I never turned back. I am happy to report that I have had no further issues with my feet.

Through our feet, we make contact with the earth. It is our foundation and literally, what we stand on. This contact affects so many other structure in the body. 

High heels shorten the calf muscles, tilt the pelvis, contribute to a displaced uterus which may be at the root of menstrual and fertility issues and can cause lower back pain, not to mention increased chances of a sprained ankle.

So, why are so many women acting like Cinderella’s stepsisters?

We force our feet into shoes that don’t fit.
We stuff ourselves into Spanx and push up bras.
We contort and conform to other people’s ideas of ourselves, measurements of success and idealized versions of how we should be.

Where in your life are you foot binding? In what ways are you living a life that doesn’t fit becayse it is too small?

Here are a some ideas for standing on your own two feet, filling your own shoes and finding alignment, vitality and flow.

1) Try Earthing – Spend time barefoot in nature for a variety of health benefits.
2) Learn Walking Meditation here with legendary Buddhist monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hahn who describes massaging the earth with every step.
3) Let Katy Bowman explain why high heels are like cigarettes here.
4) Get an Arvigo Maya Abdominal Massage to help balance your pelvis and guide your womb to optional position and function.
5) Coach with me and stop living a life that is too small, made for or by someone else.
6) Read Playing Big by Tara Mohr.

I would love to hear what resonates for you.

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