How to walk in high heels
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‘Stop looking down at your feet and stare straight ahead,’ says Queen Jazzmun, as I skitter across the hardwood floor in 6-inch Barbara Bui platforms like a newborn giraffe. ‘The heels are the mistress, and you are the slave. Submit.’
But who’s going to submit my health insurance forms when I am laid up at Cedars, I wonder, during a Sunday afternoon primer on how to walk in high heels. The private instruction came about because Jazzmun -- a transvestite performer and actor/actress -- had recently taught 18 women how to glide atop designer stilts at a course offered by shoe boutique Il Primo Passo in Santa Monica. Owner Beth Whiffen expects to hold another one in a month.
‘Women would come in and ask, ‘How do I walk in these heels?’ ‘ says Whiffen, pointing to a delicate pair of 5-inch satin Christian Lacroix sandals and gold Giuseppe Zanotti wedges that will add a half-foot to your view. ‘But the trend in the covered platform makes the shoes look even higher than they really are.’
Blame Gwyneth Paltrow for further igniting the craze. Recently, the mother of two has been mincing about in stiletto heels that would alarm every TSA agent at LAX. The 7-inch Zanottis she donned for a red carpet in Rome could double as shish kebab skewers. The 6-inch Alexander McQueen Languid pumps she wore in London last month, while promoting ‘Iron Man,’ caused a stampede to Selfridges, where the $650 shoes sold out.
‘You have to know your limitations in these shoes,’ says Jazzmun, pivoting as gracefully as Alexander Godunov in 6-inch patent leather Buis. Jazzmun also recommends that you practice walking around the house before you test-pilot ultra-high heels. ‘If you’re walking on a lot of concrete, you need to carry an extra pair of slip-ons.’
So true. Even Paltrow doesn’t tackle asphalt city streets in heels. Last month in New York, she was spotted in Nike sneakers en route to her David Letterman appearance and wore sky-high Christian Louboutins on-air. I bet she took less than 100 steps in her stilettos.
No doubt, she understands the health risks associated with walking tall. The Mayo Clinic reports that joint pain, nerve tissue growth and stress fractures await high heel addicts. There’s even a deformity known as ‘pump bump’ that is, in essence, a growth on the back of the heel caused by straps and the backs of certain stilettos. (Mayo podiatrists advise women to opt for a heel that doesn’t exceed an inch and one-half. Tell that to Carrie Bradshaw, doc.)
After just 20 minutes of gentle but firm instruction, Jazzmun has me swanning like a tipsy debutante in my platforms. I could never kick as high as Jean-Claude Van Damme, but my calves aren’t throbbing like a neon sign anymore. Jazzmun’s tutelage is more about empowerment than step-by-step instruction. You learn to fix your gaze on a point on the horizon to steady your balance and to thrust out your hip to ensure that you look sexy and confident. Oh, and be sure to distribute your weight equally on the toe and heel or you’ll fall forward or backward a la Charlie Chaplin. ‘After some Champagne, you will be twirling,’ Jazzmun says.
Later, I read online that a Swedish scientist has linked wearing high heels with schizophrenia. He claims that high heels cause us to tense our calves in a way that hampers the release of dopamine, which is essential to mental well-being. Hmm. I click my 6-inch heels and laugh like crazy.