Benji (9) found my high heeled shoes the night I was going to a work dinner.
“What are these?”
“My high heeled shoes.”.
Benji puts them on. His feet are almost as big as mine so they fit, more or less.
“These are SILLY! Why would anyone wear such high heels!?”
“Well, people wear them to dress up.”
“But why? You can’t walk properly with these shoes!”
“Well, people think they look nice.”
“What? But why?”
(I thought about why. Because other women wear high heels, and it signifies that you are elegant and successful. Because high heels make your legs seem more slender and longer. Because it’s sexy. Because it makes you look like someone who cares about how they look and that is perceived as success in some way. Because they mark me as as sexually desirable, or at least as someone who wants to be sexually desirable. And somehow to be a cool female professor also requires being beautiful or cool or at least wearing high heels )
“Why would you wear such uncomfortable shoes, Mummy?”
“Well, people think they’re cool. And they make you look taller. It’s fun to be taller, right?”
Benji teeters alone the floor on my high heels, taller than usual.
“Well, sure, but if you just want to be taller you could have shoes that were tall all the way along.”
“Oh, they have that? Why don’t you have have platform shoes instead of these silly shoes then?”
“These are ridiculous! I think you should just wear normal shoes, mummy!”
I wore my heels. But the whole evening I heard Benji’s voice. And he’s right. They’re ridiculous. And to be honest, the reason I wear them isn’t to be taller, it’s to be sexy. It’s to fit those ideals of the woman with the high heels and long legs. What absolute bullshit. I wear these unbelievably uncomfortable shoes to be sexy? What? For whom? The 60 year old who sat next to me at dinner? Nice enough man but I certainly don’t want to be sexy for him. The woman across from me who is a bank director and liked my talk? She wore flat heels. The library director at the other side of the table? I didn’t even notice whether she wore heels.
“Well, look Benji, sometimes it’s fun to dress up.”
I suppose if I wore heels more often he wouldn’t even notice them as being strange. But he does. They’re not like my usual shoes, they’re not like his shoes, or his daddy’s shoes, or his sisters’ shoes.
“But mummy, these shoes are really uncomfortable! You should dress up in more comfortable shoes!”
He’s right. He is absolutely right.