Clearly high heels have legs. Heels symbolize both sexuality and power. No other women’s accessory has been as enduring as high heels nor has the complicated and controversial history like the high heel.
The first heels were worn by Persian military men to be able to stand in the stirrups to shoot their bows. European courts viewed the latest in fashionable footwear and copied the heel as height and elevation has always indicated power, confidence and class. Plus something so impractical to wear indicated one didn’t have to work.
Women copied men’s heels as by the 1600’s longer dresses and their corresponding fabric indicated wealth and ties to the royal court. High heels soon became the fashion domain of women but click clacked out of fashion in the late 18th century when heels were associated with the excesses of Marie Antoinette.
Heels came teetering back in the 1860s with the onset of photography and the soon to follow pornography featuring the ladies in heels.
Heels reached new heights, figuratively and literally, post-World War 2 as wartime technology provided a stabilizing steel rod in the stiletto.
As everyone knows heels change how a woman walks initiating a wiggle for balance as both the breasts and butt jut out more, an indication of mating attraction. The 2013 Journal of Evolution in Human Behavior showed women in heels were viewed as walking more attractively by both genders.
The main purveyor of shoes in town is the charismatic Martha, the founder of the San Miguel Shoes and local fashion icon. Despite crippling arthritis, Martha is always dressed to impress with flawless makeup and hair a movie star would envy. Whenever we meet I make a fuss over how lovely she looks and take her photo in appreciation of her efforts.
Martha started San Miguel Shoes with her husband that was in the shoe business when she retired from teaching fourth grade. Anyone I’ve ever met that had her for a 4th grade teacher remembers her as being tough. She still is. When my spouse would buy shoes by the dozens Martha is the only person I’ve met better at doing math in her head than my mother. She runs her storefront like a general. Well a general that calls me ‘Guapo’.
Martha has heels but her most inventoried and sold shoes are ones featuring hard, black rubber soles similar to combat boots. Then across the top are multi-colored straps. The soles keep the wearer from tumbling in the city of fallen women while the straps add a bit of flair making the shoe suitable for the office or nightlife.
Foreign women adore the San Miguel Shoes while Mexican women, well, not so much. When I was tasked with giving away several boxes of never worn San Miguel Shoes my wife didn’t want, Mexican women didn’t want them either, even for free. They are simply a fashion statement only associated with foreigners.
One Day of the Dead I visited the next door state of Michoacan. Every area has their own twists on Day of the Dead, and for Michoacan folks, I noticed the photo of the dead had the same clothes worn in the photo that were lying on the deceased’s altar. It made the deceased seem all the more real to one viewing their altar.
Then the next day in San Miguel I had a cemetery tour with several sorority gals and I mentioned the laying out clothing stating there were no clothes I’d come back from the afterlife for.
They were quiet for a moment until one said “My shoes. Lay out my shoes and I’ll be back!”
by Joseph Toone
- TripAdvisor’s top tour guide in San Miguel de Allende with History and Culture Walking Tours and Joseph Toone Tours.
- Amazon’s best selling author of the San Miguel de Allende’s Secrets book series on making your adventures around town unique.
- Creator of the Maria Dolls coloring book helping indigenous doll makers.