Heels (#251)

I loved dressing up when I was young. There was no high-heeled shoe, no tutu too blinged out for me. I convinced my second grade teacher to let me put on plays solely for the costumes. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Sleeping Beauty performed in tutus–but minus the music or ballet. 

I got tall early. My mother tried to steer me toward tailored, conservative clothes. Her results were mixed. Whenever possible, I insisted on shiny boots or four inch clogs, no matter how many times I tripped or how many inches I towered over my fifth grade square dancing partner.  

More than once, my father flinched visibly over my outfits.

My less restrained older sister asked, “What hooker did you murder for those shoes?”

I responded by dressing as an actual prostitute for Halloween. With even more outrageous boots, because, let’s face it, sex workers are very fashion forward and have the best shoes. The outfits from the notorious red-light district of my youth (shout out to D.C.’s 14th Street!) would now be considered conservative evening wear for the Kardashians. 

As a teenager, I worked in a women’s clothing store. I lived to deck myself out for Proms and Homecomings, especially once I had a 6’5” boyfriend. I wore the highest, glitteriest heels I could find, especially once Judgmental Genius Older Sister went to college. 

Sadly, my love affair with hooker heels collapsed with my arches. Excruciating foot and knee pain sent me to orthopedists and podiatrists. They prescribed custom made orthotics. And those orthotics only fit into running shoes, walking shoes, or flat, laced boots. 

Eventually I was able to wear heels on special occasions. All my competitive dance shoes had heels as low as possible. I practiced in dance sneakers, which were ugly and clunky as fuck. 

The ugly shoes were so effective that I never returned to stylish shoes. I admired pretty, strappy sandals from afar, marveling as my once trashy taste in shoes was suddenly trendy.

And then I got pregnant. 

Pregnancy feet are A Thing. Your feet and ankles get swollen, because your circulation is all messed up. 

The extra weight makes your feet expand.

Finally, your bump is so big you can barely tie your comfy sneakers anymore – just after you’d made peace with wearing them forever. 

“This sucks,” I complained to my sister when I was about 8 months pregnant. “I thought I’d reached the pinnacle of shoe ugliness, but now it looks like I’ll be reduced to Crocs.”

“Yep,” she agreed. “Or you could do what my one friend did. She’s pregnant with twins. Not a chance in hell she can tie her shoes, but she needs super supportive and comfortable ones. Every morning she sticks her feet out from under the covers and her husband puts on her shoes and socks and ties them before he goes to work.”

After I quit laughing, I said, “Yeah, but we don’t wear shoes in our house. I need to come up with something else. Or bigger shoes, at the very least. I can barely get mine on.”

That weekend, my husband convinced me to return to that which I had long ago foresworn: Macy’s shoe department. 

As we approached, I grudgingly thanked Andy for looking out for me and my problematic size 11 (going on 12) feet.

“Of course! It’s the perfect time for it,” he chirped. “They’re having a clearance sale, honey!”

Chivalry isn’t dead. It can be resuscitated by 80% off. 

I waddled wistfully past all the sparkly shoes and looked for something more practical. Like a sneaker without laces. Which I didn’t think was actually possible.

Until I saw them.

They were known as mules, backless and originally made the boudoir. But these mules, called “Nike After Party II” looked like they’d been merged with a cushiony platform sneaker. They were just my size. I slid them on. 

Heaven. Those mules were the most comfortable shoes I had ever worn in my life. I wore them out of the store and until they wore out (months after my pregnancy). I searched online relentlessly, only to find they’d been discontinued years ago. Stupid Nike. 

I didn’t see them again until the night I caught Andy watching an old HBO reality series called Cathouse. Cathouse takes place in an actual, legal brothel in Nevada. The series looked interesting, though we’ve since learned that HBO made the owner appear far less horrible than he actually was. But what caught my eye immediately were the shoes. When a bell rang the sex workers would hurry out of their rooms and pose before potential clients in lingerie and killer heels. Before the bell, however, one woman lounged around in–

“My shoes!” I yelled, scaring Andy into dropping the remote. “Rewind it! Air Force Amy is wearing my shoes!”

We are probably the only people who watched that particular section of “Cathouse” repeatedly. And we conclusively proved that Air Force Amy definitely wore Nike After Party II mules.

Turns out, I still have the same taste in shoes as prostitutes. 

And those sex workers are still on the forefront of fashion. Because while I was never able to find those same Nike mules again, here are all the different types of lace-less, sneaker/ mules now available at Skechers:


Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

13 thoughts on “Heels (#251)”

  1. I like Easy Spirit’s riptide and my sis-in-law has their traveltime in every color. Neither of us would have been caught dead in these shoes in our youth. Young feet are wasted on the young. I have watched female celebrities walk in heels so high that they couldn’t walk. The don’t walk, they hobble. It wasn’t sexy. When I was young 3″ was the max and it did the trick just fine (no pun intended).

  2. Nike or Skechers should be paying for this post, because I’m sold! I definitely need some new sneakers and I’m sick of tying shoe laces. Silly question, but… do these shoes look weird when you wear them with socks?

    And wow one of your boyfriends was 6’5″! Daaaaaaaaaang.

    1. They might look weird, but I have totally worn them with socks. I wear slippers at home (big dogs can hurt you with their paws if you don’t!) and usually socks with them. So I’ll leave the socks on when I go to the store in my Skechers.

  3. The last months of my pregnancy were in the summer so I didn’t need to bother about shoes or laces: I spent 2 months in these Crocs flip flops:

    The nurses in the hospital were not so happy with them (because they said I would slip and fall) and tried to make me wear “pregnancy shoes”, which look like grandma slippers and are not open on the back. I ignored them. I didn’t slip.

    I’ve only worn high heels once in my life, for a New Year’s Eve party when I was 16. I never wore them again so you can imagine how much I “loved” them, haha. Being able to walk without pain is a basic human right.

    1. They wouldn’t let Andy wear Crocs or flip-flops after his leg surgery either. I think we had to make do with loafers of some kind.

      And yes, walking without pain should indeed be a basic human right. Women sacrifice far too much comfort for fashion.

  4. I wouldn’t say I ever loved high heels, but I did consider them necessary to go with certain dresses and to wear to dances and parties. The last couple of years, though, my feet have rebelled. I can’t wear high heels at all. I don’t miss wearing them, but really, some outfits only look good with heels. And now I’m getting bunions, so that limits my footwear even more. Sigh!

  5. I don’t like wearing heels, never have worn them with any outfit. I got as far as trying heels on in stores – high heels, low heel, mid-heel…each time I felt off balance due to scoliosis and really just felt uncomfortable. Wide-toed sneakers are my go-to, even those are hard to find lol. I’ve tried the mule shoes in store before but most of the time they’re either too lose or too tight for my liking.

    Shoe shopping, is hard.

    1. I think you have to really, really like the look of heels to put up with learning how to walk in them and having your feet tortured. And mules can be dangerous if they are too loose.

      Shoe shopping hard. Because once you find the perfect shoe, the manufacture discontinues them!

  6. Thank you for reminding me again the reason I chose to be child-free. I’ll refuse to trade Jimmy Choo and Louboutin for swollen feet. Okay! I’ll compromise at knee length boots with mini skirts.

If you liked this, let the white girl know!