Well known Christian speaker, author, and Bible teacher extraordinaire, Beth Moore, recently cut ties with the Southern Baptist Convention saying that she no longer feels at home in the denomination that once saved her life. Moore, who has long endured criticism in conservative evangelical circles because of their belief that only men should be allowed to preach, felt that she could no longer identify with or be part of what she saw as a toxic mix of misogyny, nationalism, and partisan politics in the denomination. That, however, is a topic for another day.
On the topic of fashion, I was absolutely incensed when I read that within the Southern Baptist Convention, Beth Moore was expected to show deference to male leaders by wearing flats instead of heels when she served alongside a man who was shorter than she was! What? What century are we living in? How insecure must a man be to feel that his manhood is threatened by a woman who is taller than he is?
At 5’8″, I’m more than two inches taller than my husband. When we lived in Japan, where I towered over most of the women and many of the men, we were introduced to nomi no fufu, a phrase used to describe a couple like us. Nomi no fufu literally means ‘flea couple’ and is used because of the scientific fact that female fleas are bigger than males!
My husband couldn’t care less if I wear heels. He’s not even slightly intimidated by my height, nor should he be. Why, then, do I choose to wear flats most of the time? Why were they already my shoe of choice long before I met my “little flea”? I can answer that in one simple word!
There are actually many good reasons to choose flats over heels. Studies have shown that by limiting the natural motion of the foot during walking, high heels can cause increased stress on the knees and may even contribute to osteoarthritis later in life. Similarly, if high heels are worn constantly, the spine’s ability to absorb shock can result in continued back pain. The vertebrae of the lower back may be compressed and back muscles over stressed. Wearing high heels too frequently can also cause the calf muscle to stiffen and the Achilles tendon to shorten which can actually make wearing flatter shoes uncomfortable. By putting a great deal of pressure on the ball of the foot and forcing the toes into a small toe box, high heels can cause or worsen many foot problems including corns, hammertoe, bunions, Morton’s neuroma and plantar fasciitis. This graphic from the Florida Hospital Medical Group Spine Health Institute helps explain.
Does this mean that women should never wear high heels? Not at all! Worn in moderation, not everyday, they’re unlikely to cause any long-term physical health problems.
Now that spring seems to be here and the snow is almost entirely gone, I’m excited to be able to start wearing my sneakers and ballet flats again! That’s because they’re comfortable, not because I might intimidate some wussy man by standing next to him in heels!
My choice of shoes is most definitely not a religious or spiritual matter!