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Heal the Heel or Shoo the Shoe? Essay

There was a time when beauty was in the eye of the beholder, when curves were coveted, large noses were considered exotic, and physical imperfections created the subtle charm that made every woman unique. Today however, the only beholder has become the face staring back at us when we look in the mirror. A harsh critic, often too quick to judge, and all too convinced that beauty is defined by magazine covers and television shows.

Thus each day begins with that layer of powder to mask the shame, artificial blush to distract from the dreariness, flashy clothes to hide the insecurity and, most importantly, those glorious, sexy, mischievously high heels that lift the body…and consequently the soul. To deprive a woman of that false sense of elevation, that state of mind where she is looking down on others, uplifted in an air of perceived beauty, is like telling a ballerina she can no longer dance, an author he can no longer share his words, or a leader he has lost his right to rule.

It is no wonder that there are so many women waiting in line for the chance to be “raised” up again on that imaginary pedestal. The risk of pain is almost laughable compared to the possibility of feeling sexy, desired and, quite literally, above other women. In Gardiner Harris’s article entitled “If Shoe Won’t Fit, Fix the Foot? Popular Surgery Raises Concern” he wrote about foot surgery as an emerging trend.

This type of surgery is no different than fixing an awkward nose, trimming off a few layers of cellulite or nipping and tucking a wrinkle or two. Why should it be? Just because the area of interest is in the lower, less noticeable region of the body? I beg to differ. As a matter of fact I think our feet are strategically located. Of course there is the obvious reason – we need them to touch the pavement in order to move from one place to another – but I think there is an even deeper meaning behind their proximity to the ground.

Ever wonder why people stare at their feet when they feel insecure? I believe it is not so much because they want to hide away from the problem staring them in the face but because the reassurance of their feet still firmly planted on the earth is proof of their ability to escape all obstacles – to move forward, backward and sideways regardless of the situation -and ultimately to charge past all hurdles, to step into safer ground.

Also, notice in the movies, when it comes time to introduce the sexy vixen, the camera usually starts from her feet (often clad in siren red pumps or sultry black sandals with straps that crisscross back and forth), then it moves up to show her perfectly shaped body and lastly her irresistible face. But it all began at the bottom. Her feet were a preview of who she was, they were the starting phrase in the definition of her individuality. Tell me what your shoes are and I’ll tell you who you are.

Large, misshapen boots mean she’s a hard worker. Bright and colorful flip-flops mean she is casual and carefree. Rubber shoes means she’s athletic and strong. Some could argue stereotyping, but take a look around and you might be surprised to find out how close to reality these stereotypes are. And what about heels? What do they say about a woman? She’s mysterious. She’s seductive. She’s passionate. She’s secretive. When she has on her heels, she is powerful. I believe cosmetic surgery is a procedure intended to alter a person’s appearance.

When you take away a woman’s ability to wear the shoes that she wants to wear, you’re not only changing her appearance, you’re changing her identity. If tomorrow I wake up and by some unfortunate twist of fate discover that I can no longer fit into my favorite pair of stilettos, I think it’s safe to assume that I’d be knocking on my doctor’s door as fast as my cursed flat feet could take me. The thought of being young and capable of so much more foolishness and lunacy just seems so much sadder without a pair of high heels to kick off at the end of every exciting rendezvous.

It also decreases the possibility that these rendezvous’ will happen because the physical boost from high heels gives me an ego boost as well. I gain confidence in myself and tend to be more daring, more exciting and more open to being surprised by the world. However, if I were to wake up fifty years from now faced with the same unfortunate twist of fate, I think I’d have a completely different reaction. In the same way that your shoes can define who you are, you can also define your shoes.

You age, you grow and they should do so as well. There is a time to be daring and there is a time to accept that your daring days are over. I believe that there will come a time when cozy slippers will cushion my tired, old feet, as quiet congratulations for years of hard work, and instead of being intimidated at the prospect of that loss of elevation, I will be grateful for the return of comfort, a reward for many years of suffering in the name of what is perceived to be beautiful.

I actually look forward to this time when my superficial self, which is alive and kicking today, will finally be ready to throw in the towel and leave the “beholding” to somebody else, or not care to be beheld at all. Harris’s article began with Sheree Reese’s disappointment at the fact that she might not be able to wear heels to her daughter’s wedding. My greatest wish is that when I’m her age, blessed with a daughter who finally found the man she wants to spend her entire life with, I’ll be thinking more of the walk down the aisle than the shoes I’m walking in.


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