I love high heels. I think they're beautiful works of art and I remember my first pair. They were light pink kitten heels, and I wore them on Easter Sunday with a white satin dress that had a matching pink ribbon. I loved those shoes. They made me feel good, and special and grown-up. They made me feel confident.
I was always a heavy kid, and like most kids, I got picked on. When I wore those pink kitten heels, I felt beautiful.
Fast forward into my 20s, when I got my first grown-up job. I was a heavy adult and I didn't have to worry about getting picked last in gym class, but I was still trying to figure out how to feel good, and special and grown-up. Enter high heels. I wore a lot of high heels. By the time I hit my 30s, I had a closet full of them. I wore heels every day. It didn't matter if I was taking planes, trains & automobiles to work in NYC for the day, I'd do it in heels.
I also have scoliosis, so all of this heel-wearing did not agree with my body, but that was secondary.
I wore the heels as part of a costume -- the grown-up, confident businesswoman costume. Maybe you know it? They really did help. When I would wear flats, I felt less confident. The costume had become my armor, and without it I was vulnerable. Body pain be damned.
By my mid-30s, even the heels couldn't protect me from feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. I'd lost and gained and lost and gained weight, gotten an MBA, found a career that I was good at and had a husband... but something was still off. I started reading more personal development blogs and self-help books. I started looking for a new job, but nothing felt right. When one of the coaches I'd read for years started a training program, I jumped before I could talk myself out of it.
What came next was a year-long journey that forever changed my relationship with myself. The changes were subtle. Sure, I was calmer and more balanced, but those things didn't really jump out. The most noticeable change was my shoes. As I started to love myself, I was able to let go of the costume. I didn't need the high heels as much anymore. I chose shoes that made my body feel good, because that's a loving choice. I chose shoes that didn't cause pain, because I deserve better... and I finally believed that. I was able to show up as me... vulnerable discomfort and all.
These days, I couldn't tell you the last time I wore a high heel. There are still a few pairs in my closet that I cannot bear to part with, but they may come out once or twice a year. My journey of loving myself is ongoing, because we all take two steps forward and one step back... and that's still progress.
I know that it's OK to show up as me. I know that my value is not determined by my weight, my mood and certainly not by my shoes. I determine my worth, and no pair of shoes can ever change that.
How do you show the world that you love yourself?