I wore heels to church last Sunday, the kind which ‘clop’ on hard floors. If light clothing is visually taking up space, then these are the aural equivalent. I’ve always liked the idea of wearing heels, they seemed so grown up. But I’ve found that to wear them takes more confidence than I often have.
The first time I owned heeled shoes, I was about 13 or 14. I needed dress shoes for orchestra and concert band performances, and somehow, I managed to convince Mum those particular shoes would be good. They looked so grown up, such ‘adult’ shoes. But as I wore them and walked around my school halls, I realized that I may have made a mistake. Clop, clop, clop. The sound echoed off the walls, announcing my presence to everyone nearby, to anyone around the corner who I couldn’t even see, let alone know they were there.
I’d spent years practicing moving silently around my own house, prizing myself on avoiding creaking wooden floors. I still love that skill. It allowed me to move around without being noticed, to assess a room before my movement announced me, gauging situations so I knew what I was getting into. It allowed me to disappear (like an audio-ninja!).
But it wasn’t really something I did to be cool, it was originally designed as self-protection. It seemed the height of rudeness to impinge on someone else’s space, aurally or physically, but maybe that was because I was so self-protective of my own self and space.
And here I was, clopping loudly down the corridor, shouting out my presence and encroaching on audio-space needed for conversation, or at least polite silence.
Heels, became for me, an aural form of taking up space, of announcing and pronouncing one’s presence. No quietly taking in a social environment now.
But last week I wrote about wearing light colours, and how this visually takes up space. Saturday found me op-shopping with my daughter to find some things for a school project, and I found myself picking out a few light tops for myself. It felt like a dipping of my toes into the water.
So, Sunday morning, I dress in one of these new tops – a pale pink. And the only shoes which would go with my outfit were, of course, a pair of heels. I clopped out to the car, painfully aware of my footfalls, and as I bent to open the garage door, I remembered that heels don’t just take up more aural space, they also make me take up more physical space too: I’m taller.
It seems so obvious, but when I last wore any heels a few months ago, I noticed myself slouching, trying unconsciously to minimize the added height. I had felt awkward suddenly being a different height than I was used to as I talked to people, and it kept distracting me as I tried to make conversation.
I wondered if anyone else noticed I was a different height. Probably not. Half of the women are probably a different height every week. And why would it matter anyway?
But I don’t like taking up space. I’m used to minimizing my presence, sitting with legs tucked up beneath me, often speaking too softly for people to hear, doubting my own value to be heard.
And here I was, daring to enter into a social space (without even ‘practicing’ at home first), not just in black heels, but in a pale pink top as well. Daring to take up space, to have presence, to Be, without squashing myself down.
Initially I focused on keeping myself relaxed, but it surprised me how easy it was: To be unabashedly taking up space for myself. To own my own presence. There was no fanfare, no comments, just an abiding peace. To be myself, to own being myself, felt comfortable – even when I clopped. And that’s not something I take lightly.
Easy tweetables for you to share: