British fashion, high heels, and dyslexia

Diane Clement asked, “Do British women feel the need to teeter around on high heels in their professional lives?? I always feel a bit sad when I see a woman with future foot problems carefully mincing around in them.”

Since I’m as dyslexic about fashion as I am about math, I hadn’t noticed.

How can anyone not notice if another human being is teetering around on something that makes her three inches taller than her normal height and seven times more prone to foot and back problems but that she thinks (and many people agree) make her look fantastic? Trust me, I can. I’m already shorter than 97.3% of the adults around me, so if they all grew by half a foot, what difference would that make to me? I’m already looking up.

Two interruptions here:

  1. 73.9% of all statistics are made up, including this one, so you should go back and reread the paragraph just above with that in mind.
  2. Endemic mathematical incompetence is called dyspraxia, not mathematical dyslexia, but it sounds like a disease and I’d much rather think of myself as dyslexic about numbers. I mean, my old friend T. used to claim she became dyslexic anytime she drove in St. Paul, and if she can have geographical dyslexia I don’t see why I shouldn’t have the mathematical form. However, I hate to offend anyone unnecessarily, so in case misusing of the word bothers anyone let’s put it this way: There is nothing involving numbers that I can’t fuck up.

There, that’s less offensive, isn’t it?

Irrelevant photo: bluebells in flower at Lanhydrock.

Irrelevant photo: bluebells in flower at Lanhydrock.

But back to high heels, which is our alleged subject. I asked M., who knows all, although I admit that as I phrased the question I didn’t work the teetering or the mincing or the foot problems. Researchers shouldn’t let their biases or anyone else’s get in the way, and I do take this blog seriously.

The short answer is yes—women in Britain tend to wear high heels in their professional lives. Although, M. said, styles do change, and sometimes flat shoes are in fashion, or low heels.

This next bit isn’t entirely relevant, but why should that stop me? The last time—and it was roughly a hundred years ago—that I wore heels of any sort I slipped down half a flight of stairs. The nice thing about my fashion dyslexia is that I now wear running shoes regardless of what’s in style. My feet are happy, and if people think I look funny I’m oblivious, so the rest of me is happy as well. My wardrobe and I are now entirely post-fashion.

Have I mentioned that this isn’t a fashion blog? That won’t stop me from answering fashion questions, but it may stop me from answering them competently.

90 thoughts on “British fashion, high heels, and dyslexia

  1. At a paltry 5’1″ I could probably do with the extra height afforded by heels, but I am clumsy beyond belief and my balance is poor. A sensible boot can be polished smartly and is far more practical, in my opinion.
    Numbers are the work of the devil – surely the most confusing things ever conceived.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m roughly your height, and have roughly your grace, so I couldn’t agree more. And ditto for the business about numbers. The worst of it is that I love to bake and periodically some wires will cross in my head mid-recipe and I’ll double one thing, halve the next, and go out for a walk while the damn thing’s in the oven. Okay, I made up the business about the walk, but I might as well because once I’ve done that there’s no rescuing it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad to find the phrase fashion dyslexic used somewhere other than in my head. I gave up heels years ago and refuse to wear them except in cases of extreme emergency such as perhaps the need to distract an enemy spy or some such thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I gave up heels a long time ago. People say I’ve let myself go, but I prefer to think I love myself more. I’ll wear wedges and the occasional low heel, but more often than not, a nice comfy ballet flat is my friend.
    I invert numbers. I didn’t find out until I was 21, and they did say something about mathematical dyslexia, but now that you’ve written it, endemic was also used.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the idea of fashion dyslexia. I know what is fashionable, I just don’t care. My feet grew 2 inches after pregnancy, which allowed me to throw away all my heels from the professional days. I never understood the presumed obsession with footwear until someone wrote about it being the great equalizer..no matter what size you are, you can buy the same pretty shoes…kind of an equal opportunity torture thing.
    I was recently in NYC, and sporting a nice outfit, with my signature running shoes. I was quick to notice, I wasn’t alone !! Maybe there is hope. ☺ Van

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ok, my experience may not be the norm, and I’m not sure where the original-question-poser hails from, but I don’t see high heels worn in the US at work all that much, except perhaps in certain red light districts. They’re worn socially, of course. Fairly or not, high heels connote a lack of seriousness (to put it kindly), an image I would not want to convey in the workplace. If I’m out dancing at a club (and you would never find me out dancing at a club, as I am a clumsy white girl), then, sure, I might want to convey a different message.

    I guess this depends on your definition of high heels, though. And maybe also how tall you are. I’m five nine, so stilettos have been out of the realm of possibility for me since middle school, but I wear a 1 or 1 and 1/2 inch (not sure what that is in the metric system) heel at work. I used to work with a woman who probably only reached five feet tall on a good day, with the wind blowing at her back, and she used to wear high heels, but the fact that I even remember her shows how unusual the shoes were.

    Anyway, there’s lots of unwritten rules about the dress code for women that may be specific to the workplace. One of my bosses humiliated me one day for wearing my long hair tied back neatly in a ponytail (who knew ponytails implied incompetence?) and let’s not get started on pantyhose. Maybe there are jobs, other than stripping and hooking, where high heels are de rigeur.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A ponytail denotes incompetence? Who makes this stuff up?

      To translate heels from inches to centi-whatsits, multiply by 2.5, then leave town. Or, no, wait. That’s to translate from centi-whatsits. So divide by something–not sure what–and abandon yourself to despair. It works every time.

      Like

  6. Math is what kept me out of college. It didn’t, however, keep me from becoming carpenter and running my own business. Sure enough, I have never needed any of the stuff they tried to teach me. Other than a bit of geometry from time to time. I leave the math to my accountant.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ‘mathematical dyslexia’ is called dyscalculia. Dyspraxia is a much wider ranging developmental disorder that can include both dyslexia and dyscalculia but is more noted for a delay in development of various skills such as spatial awareness, following directions, memory recall, concentration, balance, gross and fine motor skills – ranging from learning how to ride a bike to being able to fasten a button. It also effects social skills, and can even effect verbal skills, especially awareness of volume of speech. Tactile hypersensitivity is a big part of it too, as is noise and light intolerance.
    I’m sorry – I really don’t mean to come across as pedantic. I just feel it’s important to be accurate with these things.
    Dyscalculia can be helped in the same way as dyslexia with the use of transparent coloured overlays when reading letters or numbers. Everyone has a different colour – mine is orange, my daughter’s is aqua. I knew one young woman who couldn’t see the letter W, but with a coloured overlay – there it was :) Another young woman who had both dyslexia and dyscalculia and began clerical work changed the background of all her documents to her personal shade of lilac and was able to work much more effectively.
    Me go now…………….*runs away*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t apologize for that–it’s fantastic. And I should have double checked dyspraxia before tossing it in like that. I know better, I just don’t always pay attention. Which brings me to another of your points: following directions. I’m capable of it, I just don’t always want to. Even my own directions.

      I’d heard about the use of colored overlays but, frankly, it sounds so odd that I didn’t give it much credence. Amazing that it really works. Is there a theory behind why it does?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Phew! :D
        Don’t quote me on this, but I believe it’s to do with the way the eye/brain process the different frequencies of light. Different colours having different frequencies, and the brain deciphering the light that reaches the eye.
        A couple of websites I used a lot when I was teaching – for info and resources – have more info if you want to read up on it :)
        http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/dyslexic/eyes-and-dyslexia
        http://irlen.com/
        But yes, they do work. I had a diagnostic kit and I screened many of the young people I worked with (I was a literacy and numeracy tutor, working mainly with young people with learning and behavioural difficulties) and I used to photocopy onto coloured paper for them. You can actually buy bookmark sized overlays to use. I found some on ebay :)

        Liked by 2 people

        • It’s an odd feeling, reading that. I found myself thinking, do I really want to go back and discover that I could do math if…? And by now my dislike of math is strong enough that even the lure of some minimal competence with numbers isn’t strong enough. I think if I were younger, though, I’d pursue it.

          Thanks for an interesting set of contributions.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I understand that completely. I still can’t do algebra to save my life!! Since I had to left work, the criteria to teach maths at Level 2 (adult numeracy equivalent of C grade GCSE) and below, is to have a level 3 qualification yourself. That means lots of algebra, and despite having one to one tuition, I just couldn’t get the hang of it. Had I continued to teach, I would only have been able to teach up to Level 1 :(
            I suggested the overlay thinking that it might be useful for every day stuff – like reading recipes :)
            And I agree, the more the fear is cemented, the harder it is. And if you can manage your finances etc, there is no need to go back to try again, so banish those weird feelings!!

            Liked by 1 person

            • I hadn’t thought about using it to approach daily problems, just decided I either had to start from third grade, where it all began to go wrong, and learn everything up through trigonometry (okay, I exaggerate just a bit) or else do nothing. Doing nothing seemed like the more sensible choice. I’ll follow the link and approach with caution, and whatever good sense I can find scattered on the floor surrounding my computer. Said floor at the moment includes an eight-week-old kitten and I doubt he’s left much good sense lying around, but I’ll see what I can do.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Awwww…….any chance of some kitten pics on your blog?
              Little kitties grow into wise cats, but the only maths they know is “more” – more head rubs, more food, more things to chase :-)

              Liked by 1 person

  8. ‘Post fashion’. I like it; I’m going to adopt it. I’ve always tried to look my best (for my own pleasure), but gave up high heels decades ago. A wannabe date once referred to my wardrobe as representing my supposed ‘bohemian style’. (Someone–male!– had been noticing what I wore more than I ever did.) … That was over 20 years ago.
    These days, I wear walking boots, tennis shoes, walking sandals or go barefoot as much as possible (not so much here in the UK; it’s not very warm). But I do like dancing in cuban heels (chunky, low heels with lots of support for the foot). :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve skipped all the big words that I can’t spell (see above in other comments) and have already forgotten the differences in descriptions and meanings. I’m in the kitchen making tea and plating the afternoon sandwiches and biscuits. If everyone will just calm down, find a seat, introduce yourself to the person on your right…and left…we’ll move on to the sing-a-long that is planned for later…
    Ellen…we need more half-cream….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right. Is half cream the stuff that’s thicker than the quarter cream or is that the–

      Never mind. I’ve spilled them both. I’ll just run out and see if they have any at the store. Start the meeting without me, okay?

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Loved this post!
    For years, as you know here in NY, I wore stiletto heels to work each day….Then, I realized that I was killing my feet for fashion!
    Now, it’s ballet flats for me…I can’t even handle stilettos anymore…I think the tendons of your ankles shrink after not wearing heels for a while (I think I read that somewhere)?
    Anyway, I’m 5’2″ so I tend to look up at half the world too….Don’t mind it much though :-)
    Cheers to you, my friend! Hope all is well with you!
    *Lia
    PS: I’m not sure if you ever posted about this, but I’m curious as to why British English uses the “u” in words like “favourite” “colour” etc…and instead the “u” has been dropped from American English in these “o” words?

    Liked by 1 person

    • A hundred years ago, I knew a woman who’d spent so many years wearing heels–and being a New Yorker, walking long distances in them–that she swore she couldn’t wear flat shoes anymore and wore heels because they were more comfortable. Ouch. So yes, I’m guessing something does shrink–tendons, muscles, whatever. I came of wearing-heels age with the naive assumption that shoes should fit your foot and that you should be able to walk in them (ah, I was young and naive), and I remember a stretch of time when I was just baffled by heels and kept thinking I somehow hadn’t been careful enough about finding a pair that fit. And those were low heels. Stilettos? Never even tried a pair on. Then at some point I realized they just inherently weren’t comfortable and weren’t meant to be.

      The U. I’ll see if I can’t find out a bit of the history. It has to do with English’s French inheritance and the desire of a still fairly new United States to put its own spin on the language.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I cannot figure out which I enjoyed reading more… the initial post? Or perhaps the ensuing comments? I think it is all brilliant! Very informative, humorous and excellently delightful!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Pingback: Irrelevant post: new kitten in the house | Notes from the U.K.

  13. Pingback: Follow-up: an innumerate triumphs | Notes from the U.K.

  14. In the words of Lindile Lomalanga (2008) People who wear pointy shoes, they don’t want to work. They sit and answer their cell phones and only wait for month end pay.” It is a art work using embroidery. I will try to post it here.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Am actually asleep now, but in the morning will realize that sleeping me enjoyed my visit here and would have left a very entertaining comment, had she been able to tap into any of waking me’s wit.

    My bedfriend and I wish you a goodnight.
    :bear:
    (He looks so cute, doesn’t he? A total bed-hog.)

    P.S. I was terrible at arithmetic, and also hated math. I am still terrible at arithmetic, but no longer hate math. Don’t run to embrace it, but don’t curl up in a 90-degree angle weeping, either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My greetings to both the sleeping and waking halves of you. I stopped wanting to weep over math (and arithmetic) the minute I got out of school. Now I’m free to laugh at how the amazing things I manage to do with numbers. It has a kind of “Look, it’s magic” quality about it. I can take any set of numbers and come up with an answer no one else would find. Such a gift.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I wore heels for years with no problems. I took my kids to Manistee on Lake Michigan. I was wearing flip-flops and my foot turned when I stepped off a curb. I broke a bone in my foot. Which proves that I can be clumsy even when I’m practically barefoot. If I could, I’d avoid all shoes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I knew someone–in Minnesota, yet–who went barefoot almost constantly, including in the winter, outside. I have no idea how he did it, but it is physically possible.

      I suspect flipflops are worse than either shoes or no shoes, since they flap around and almost beg you to turn an ankle. Ouch.

      Like

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