I have a recent interest in fashion. Not current fashion, but some of the history of fashion, particularly as it relates to men. High-heeled shoes were originally designed for men! They were a sign of wealth and stature. Of course, they made the man taller, and the stress on the calf made them look stronger as well. The lore of the shoe states that they were first designed and used in Persia in the 10th century. The horse brigade of the Persian Army in the 10th century is credited with the invention of the high-heeled shoe to help the horsemen keep their feet in the stirrups. Brilliant!
If you have ever ridden horseback, the importance of keeping your feet in the stirrups will immediately be evident. The heels will also help your feet come out of the stirrups should you fall off the horse. You will not be dragged across the field with your foot caught in the stirrup. The high heel is a very thoughtful invention, indeed. A recent celebration of the shoe took place in 2022 at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
So, how do high heels migrate from a man’s fashion statement to a woman’s? Leave that to the courts of Europe. As men in court began to wear these high heels to make them taller and appear more powerful the natural transition to women desiring similar attention took place somewhere between the 1600s and the 1800s. By the 1800s, the transition was complete, and men were back on the ground while women were teetering on skinny heels in the air. The skinny heel is symbolic of position. Look at me. I don’t have to move fast or carry heavy things or work for a living. I can just teeter around and be served by others.
The high-heeled shoe has always been a symbol of status. From men on horseback to women on runways, the shoe has garnered attention and helped the wearer feel a sense of heightened importance. Yet, the oldest shoe in existence is a moccasin, a working man’s shoe to walk long distances, move swiftly and quietly while hunting prey and be able to feel your foot on the ground. I think we should go back to moccasins to stay grounded and in touch with things happening around us.
The moccasin lets you feel reality and respond to it appropriately. Somewhere along the way, we have lost the ability to be present in the moment and connect with the world and the people around us. We need to hit pause and spend time on the ground, touching our family and friends and truly being present for them. Perhaps we need to go barefoot!