I’ve long since grown used to the looks I get wearing my five-inch wedges on my already 5’10 frame, as well as the way the people part like the Red Sea when I come strolling down the hallway with my friends at my side. I’ve also accepted the fact that I’m almost the tallest female in my school.
But there’s a method to my madness.
Runway models are usually a minimum of 5’9 for females and 5’11’ for males. Tall is commonly seen as regal and in control. Confident.
For me, high heels are a means to achieve that confidence.
There’s something about that pair of black wedges that make me stand a little taller. Walk with a little longer strides. Feel a little prouder. Feel a bit more formidable. Believe me when I say adding a little height in high school halls is so not a bad thing—even if I already happen to tower over the majority of the students.
I haven’t always been so comfortable with my height, and I think that has in part to do with the oddity of it. This lack of comfort in my own skin led me to forgo all the different types of clothing pieces that I enjoyed, such as skirts and heels. This year, my last year in high school, I decided that I was going to wear more than my typical blue jeans, ballet flats, and incredibly cozy sweatshirt. Even with that frame of mind, I struggled with branching out from what I knew the morning before school started. Despite the confident persona I worked to adapt, I found myself struggling with changing out of my skirt and my pair of black wedges as quickly as I put them on.
That frame of mind is what haunts the minds of many of the coming-of-age adults: It’s a lack of confidence. Wearing high heels to school means getting the courage to break free of what was expected of me. That sounds dramatic, but that is what it was.
A poem by Christine Heppermann in her book Poisoned Apples reads, “If a hiker strays / off the path, trips…/… / is it really / the canyon’s fault?” It led me to test the dress code and its sexist limits in my own way. I’ve got legs that go on for miles, I stand tall in those black wedges and my pair of skinny jeans, and I let the world know that I exist and that I’m here to stay. It feels liberating, and I wish I had always felt this way in school.
I would love to create a world of where no one feels ashamed of their personal beauty and where their power is never hindered or squashed by the ideals that were placed on their cloth-covered shoulders when they were young. How about instead of teaching females to cover up, we teach males to not objectify and that this body is simply that—a body.
School dress codes tend to inhibit one’s personal identity, and for me, it made me feel like these heels and this skirt were something that I shouldn’t wear. It’s odd, because isn’t this the time when we’re figuring ourselves out? Shouldn’t we wear shorts, baggy shirts, tank tops, and jeans if we want to? Shouldn’t we be able to confidently wear our dresses and jean jackets? Knowing that throughout history heels were viewed as such—a way to achieve greatness and embrace one’s own beauty and prowess—makes me believe that this is what they have always been intended to be.
I’m still working embracing all of me, but I’m working through my weekend closet and wearing those pieces to school, one pair of high heels at a time.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.