You are brave and weather-worn beings. I would like to apologize for my lifelong abuse and mistreatment. You have performed your duty well, given me support, and only fail me now and then. Although I have not bound you in the traditional sense, in my own Western way, I have. Wrapping you daily in shoes too small, heels too tall, and arches too flat is unkind and unacceptable of me. I have used you to facilitate an image, a sexuality, a height untrue to my intent. But my behavior does not belong to me alone; it is the tradition of my mother and her mother and her mother’s mother (literal and figurative) and I only perpetuate what they have built. Let me elaborate.
A beautiful lithe 5’10”, my own mother refuses to wear flats because she feels her stature is the only intimidating thing about her. Stronger now than ever, my mother was once a very passive timid woman. She told me that the only way she could stand up to her male superiors was if she was literally larger than them, so she stuck to heels to ensure that she was. Today she tends to wear comfortable wedges and chunky Born’s which still give her a few extra inches, but in her day she wore ridiculous pumps and stilettos around the office, working through the callouses and blisters. Her tired heels speak volumes about their journeys and bindings.
My grandmother is a petite woman, her strength coming from her fierce disposition and fearlessly confrontational tone. The way she sees things, no one has the right to treat her as his/her inferior so she never lets them. This confidence of hers is purely internal. She doesn’t need any reassurance and never has. In order to project her confidence she wears boldly colored yet classic clothing paired with simple pumps. As a young girl I remember watching her chop corns off of her feet and wanting to vomit. I asked her why she had them and she said “I always have. It’s nothing. It doesn’t even hurt, sweetheart,” and put her mangled foot back in her navy heels.
Although I never met her, my great grandmother told my mother something I’ve long kept close. My mother and I have large but proportional feet. I’m a scaled down version of my mother: slightly shorter with smaller hands, feet, thighs, breasts. Still, she wears a size 10 and I a 9.5. We’re close, but not quite equals. When my mother was feeling down about her “boat feet” as she calls them, my great grandmother told her “Honey, that ain’t nothin’ to worry ’bout. Those feet of yours just mean you’ve got a good under-standing!”
Well, Understandings, I guess this is a thank-you more than an apology.