At a recent dishy lunch with Michael Kors, a table of socialites hung off the designer's every word as he stated - emphatically - that no matter how much your feet may be killing you, you must never utter a word about it: If the heat's too hot sweetie, just get out of the kitchen.
Trust me, I - who has toughed it out with fashionistas the world over for years, stoically striding down life's runways in some of the highest heels known to womankind - am in total agreement that it's hardly fabulous to kvetch about one's aching tootsies.
But can we talk? In my circle, gals are falling off the stiletto bandwagon in increasing numbers, opting for comfier shoes that boast big platforms or lower heels. I can't figure out whether we are getting old, or are just plain fed up. And while I'm thrilled to sport some of those smart "comfort uber alles" designs carried by the likes of shoe retailer Ron White, I can't shake the soft spot I have in my heart for killer heels.
Alas, the "soft spots" on the balls of my feet pay for my penchant big-time. It's a fashion paradox that Christian Louboutin has the ability to make you feel both empowered and disabled at the same time.
On two occasions last week, I foolishly put my feet through torture, forced to stand in ultraglam, ultrahigh skinny heels for way too long. At least the black patent Christian Diors had a mini-platform, so the agony wasn't quite as profound. But I teamed them with nude fishnet stockings, and by the time I got home my feet looked as if they had experienced a brush with a meat tenderizer.
Chinese foot-binding was banned in 1911, wasn't it? So why do women continue to subject themselves to this particular form of torment? Judging by the immense popularity of outrageously impractical footwear, fashion victimization is here to stay. According to Toronto's Dr. Robert Chelin, president of the International Federation of Podiatrists, fashionistas and runners have a lot in common: We keep beating down the flesh at the bottom of our feet, and with age we lose the fat pads. This can result in burning and pain, especially on the balls of the foot.
But, as with many symptoms of aging, help is but a needle away. Dr. Suzanne Levine, a New York-based "podiatrist to the stars," has pioneered a treatment using injectables that creates the feeling of "pillows in your feet."
"It's biodegradable hyaluronic acid and Sephadex [sugar glucose beads] which stimulates your own soft tissue to produce more collagen," Chelin explains. "We're just replacing what nature takes away."
Results can last up to 18 months, he says, although "many high-heel devotees get treated about a week before their big glam outings."
And men, too, are taking advantage of the increasingly popular treatment, which costs about $500. Advocates say it results in greater all-round comfort. "We can inject this over any bony prominence where irritating shoe pressure occurs," Chelin says. "Basically, it creates a little cushion to alleviate the pressure."
My injection tip came from none other than Kors. "Absolutely everybody in New York gets it done," he confided with a certain tone that led me to speculate that even fashion's high priestess herself may indulge. The devil wears Dr. Scholl's? I think not.
For now, I am hell-bent on experimenting with Tana's Smiling Feet gel pads. But I do find it amusing to think that in a world where "skinny" is so revered, "fat" is definitely where it's at for at least one part of the body.
Jeanne Beker is the host of
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