How can you walk in those things?

Here’s a crazy thing.

I think high heels might be killing me.

Let me explain.

For the past month or so, I’ve been having some problems when running – stiff hips, niggling knee problems, and tight calves.

I couldn’t understand what the heck was going on with me, as I have never, ever had any issues with my body – no matter how hard I’ve been training.

You name it – I can withstand it. I have been competing at a high performance level (whether it be dance, track, badminton, or volleyball) since I was seven years old and I have never once suffered a major injury.

Tough Mudder may have cut and bruised the ever-loving crap out of my arms and legs, but other than a day or two of (very natural) muscle stiffness and soreness, I emerged both times completely unscathed.

So when these aches and pains began to creep up on me, it really gave me pause.

At first I just chalked it up to an over-zealous pre-race weekend (40+ kilometers over three days) coupled by an ill-advised high-heel dance party at the Jungle concert the next day.

But even after my win at Boundary Bay, these zings and pings have not given way.

So I spent some time today thinking about what, if anything, has changed in my life over the past month or two to cause such a substantial shift in the way my body reacts to something that I have been doing for years and years.

And that’s when it hit me: for the first time in my entire life, I have been wearing high heels almost every day.

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To work and for play.

And this gave me pause.

Is it really possible that changing my footwear for such a short period of time could be wrecking so much havoc with my hips and legs?

And the answer, I am truly apt to believe, is a resounding YES.

Which is actually crazy!

But listen to this:

On Friday I wore flats to work because I knew that I would be heading over to Marc’s high school to lead the improv club, and I tell you, spending just twenty-four hours with my feet firmly planted on the ground made a substantial difference in my run this morning.

My had absolutely no problems with my knees and only my right hip felt a little tight (and again, only at the tail end of a very fast eight kilometer run.)

I am curious to see what tomorrow will bring, as today I again shunned my heels, and opted instead to don a pair of flat boots instead.

Stay tuned!

But in the interim, I have to wax further on just how upset I am by this revelation.

Because I LOVE my heels!

I am enamoured by how pretty they all are, and how unbelievably tall I am in each pair, and how unstoppable and badass each pair makes me feel – like I could literally step over every obstacle that might have the audacity to get in my way.

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I like how they make my legs look (about fifty miles long), and how weirdly proud I am of how well I can walk in each pair, no matter how high, or how skinny a heel.

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I love my chunky black boots that I bought for forty dollars at Target, and wore so often the first week post-purchase that I had to re-glue the soles after only seven days.

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I love my five dollar wedges, and my beautiful burgundy suede stilettos, and my cute plaid kitten heels.

I like how my husband doesn’t care that I am taller than him when I wear heels.

Dock

(I like how the only thing that concerns him about these shoes is how they may be impacting my health.)

I really do like (nay love!) everything about them.

But I am also so very wary about what exactly they may be doing long-term to my body, and when it comes down to it, I cherish my ability to run like the wind much, MUCH more than I do a sweet pair of shoes.

No matter how good my legs might look.

Because if I can’t run, they’re not going to look that good anyway.

I think I am going to be sick

So.

Do you guys ever come home thinking that you’ll work out right away but then you realize that you’re actually starving so you eat all of the wheat thins and chocolate milk but then work out anyways and spend the whole time trying not to ralph?

Yes?

I really feel like this happens to me too much for my own good.

It’s strange.

I never really feel the full extent of my hunger pains until I walk through my front door and start getting my stuff (shorts/sports bra/socks/etc.) together and start thinking about where I am going to go for a run or what I am going to do for my workout.

I know a lot of this has to do with the fact that I often don’t eat enough food at lunch – either because I arrived for the day inadequately prepared, or maybe I just worked straight through my break, or maybe I did eat, but all I had was a bag of unsalted roasted almonds, and dried cranberries (which, just for the record, is the most delicious combination of life.)

Either way, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Because there really is nothing worse than working out and no knowing whether or not you’re going to barf – right?

(Okay, there may be one or two worse things in the world, but for the sake of hyperbole, let’s say that there isn’t.)

And I don’t know exactly why, but somehow this still keeps happening to me.

This is my blessing.

This is my curse.

I think what it boils down to is, when I get hungry – like, really, gut-wrenchingly hungry, the kind of hunger that sneaks up on you from behind and then knocks you senseless with one strong punch to the back of the head – I have little (to no) self-control over what it is that I eat, and then I carry on as if nothing has happened, having convinced myself that I need not alter my behaviour to accommodate for the 1000 milligrams of sodium I may have just ingested.

(I mean, at the very least I should drink a boatload of water to help flush that crap out.)

For instance, I once went for a six kilometer run after eating an entire bag of smokey bbq kettle chips as if it was AIN’T NO THANG.

And it wasn’t.

Until, of course, I had to make a b-line for the Queen’s Park port-a-potty approximately four and a half kilometers into my route and spent the next hour and a bit suffering from the cold-sweats, wrapped in a wool blanket, sipping peppermint tea.

(That was a pretty dark day for me.)

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Not this specific incident, but another pretty crazy workout – caught in a rainstorm mid-run!

This cavalier attitude is also unhelpful, because I’m really trying to push my boundaries when it comes to strength training and nothing, NOTHING says disaster, both in terms of strength gains and general gastronomic distress, then improper nutritional choices.

Speaking of which, (and I know this may seem inconsequential for all you health nuts out there), but for the past three days I haven’t eaten sweets after my dinner.

Now, this is HUGE because 1.) I actually ATE a proper dinner (huzzah!) and 2.) I normally always eat dessert after EVERY meal (seriously, sometimes I eat multiple desserts, or just have dessert for dinner).

For me, taking a bit of a break from my usual après-meal status quo is pretty darn sweet.

NO PUN INTENDED.

So in the end, maybe this crazy stuff finds a way of evening itself out?

I mean, I’m certainly going to keep striving to improve my health, make better choices, and DEFINITELY eat lunch every day – no matter what.

I just also have to recognize that, like me, these choices of mine are never going to be truly perfect.

I’m a mouse, duh!

Halloween has officially jumped the shark.

Exhibit A:

SEXY BANANA!!! http://www.yandy.com/Sexy-Banana-Costume.php

Exhibit B:

SEXY CHEWBACCA!!! http://www.yandy.com/Sci-Fi-Furry-Costume.php

Exhibit C:

SEXY MARY POPPINS!!! http://www.yandy.com/spoonful-of-sugar-costume

And so it goes.

I am actually apt to believe that this company is just trolling us all, and that their employees fill their days playing an endless game of “Sexy Madlibs” in an effort to come up with the most ridiculous costumes as possible.

In fact, because it looks so easy I think I’m going to play too.

Let’s start:

SEXY PLUNGER!

SEXY COMPRESSION SOCK!

SEXY ARMADILLO!

SEXY SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD!

SEXY BOARDING PASS!

SEXY SHOE HORN!

SEXY EUROPEAN UNION MONETARY POLICY!

SEXY AUSTERITY MEASURES!

SEXY WEDGE OF MELTED BRIE!

SEXY SWEATER VEST!

SEXY CHRISTMAS TREE ORNAMENT!

SEXY PONTIUS PILATE!

SEXY JACKSON POLLOCK PAINTING!

SEXY HEAD GEAR!

SEXY NON-FAT PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE EASY WHIP!

Seriously, I want this job. Not only is it completely bonkers, it is great, great fun.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I’ve never gone out on Halloween dressed as a slightly more tarted-up version of my normal self.

In first year of my undergrad, I went as a the Short Skirt, Long Jacket girl from Cake’s seminal work “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” (not my finest work, but definitely my most last minute); and the year after I was some sort of trampy vampire (although mostly I was stoked to stomp around in my new Doc Martin boots, flashing my sweet fangs to random passerbys.)

But mostly, I’ve taken advantage of Halloween to dress as either dudes from different decades or Hermione from Harry Potter.

(And not sexy Hermione either BECAUSE COME ON PEOPLE, THAT IS JUST AWFUL AND WRONG.)

I’ve been a 1920s golfer, an Extra Extra! paperboy, and Jerry Sizzler (a clearly insane man, dressed as a woman.)

This year, if I could actually get my act together I would LOVE to go as Psy (although I would have to make sure that I pulled it off and didn’t veer into 1970s prom territory.)

So where exactly am I going with this?

I’m not exactly sure. I mean, on one hand, I feel as though it isn’t my right to stand up and say that women cannot dress the way that they want – on Halloween or any other day of the year.

But on the other hand, the whole “sexy for sexy sake” trope really drives me nuts.  It’s lazy and demeaning and ridiculous.

And yet, I also cannot help but keep going back to the line: In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it. (From Tina Fey’s brilliant film Mean Girls.)

So. This is true, yes.  But what do we do with it?

Let’s talk it through.

For three hundred and sixty-four days of the year women are judged and shamed every day based on their mode of dress (whether it’s too sexy or not sexy enough).

However, for one night each year, some kind of messed up amnesty is called, and a woman can put on whatever deranged outfit she chooses (let’s say, a sexy hamburger costume), and for the next five or so hours have the opportunity to subvert current social norms and attitudes, because sexy now IS the expected and accepted norm, come Halloween night.

To me, this is some messed up crap.

Instead of, oh, I don’t know, making a concerted effort to do away with the incredibly damaging expectations and implications we as a society have placed on a woman’s appearance, mode of dress, and sexuality, we create a night where it’s okay for a woman to be “sexy” and dress in utterly rubbish costumes (but just this one time!) because it’s only make believe and not real life.

Remember ladies: it’s okay to be a slut as long as you’re not really a slut!

TITILATE NOT FORNICATE!

This ludicrous binary of all or nothing sexuality – where it is important to be both chaste and sexual, the Madonna and the whore – is brutal, and restrictive, and archaic, and so alive and thriving it boggles my mind.

And it messes me up because I get all shirty and confused wondering if I am actually okay with women wearing these kind of outfits? Do they really want to wear that kind of costume or do they just think they should wear something like that? Are these choices symptoms of patriarchy or they conscious efforts to subvert it?

For the love of Pete, someone pass me a mini Twix bar.

The long and short of it is – I don’ t have the answer. So I will finish by saying this:

Ladies: Dress up however you wish, and remember – when the clock strikes twelve on November 1, you won’t turn into a pumpkin (SEXY! Or otherwise.)

No matter what you wear, you will still be the same person, the same heart, the same brain, the same soul. A costume, makeup, a mode of dress – none of these things can change that, no matter what anyone (or society) tries to tell you.

Now, if you excuse me, I think I may have just figured out the perfect costume. This year, I will definitely be going as a SEXY CAN OF WORMS!

Now where’s my can opener…

The feminine critique

Much has been written about Miss Universe Canada’s decision to remove Jenna Talackova from the Miss Universe Canada Competition.

According to the organization, Ms. Talackova was barred from competing because, “She did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form.”

You see, in order to qualify as a Miss Universe Canada contestant, individuals must be:

• a Canadian citizen

• between the age of 18 and 27

• neither pregnant nor married

• a “natural born” female (also a requirement of every other Miss Universe pageant).

Natural born females, eh? Sounds like an Oliver Stone production that never made it past the drawing board.

Now, the absurdity of these rules isn’t the main reason I am writing this post.

That I believe Ms. Talackova should be able to compete in the pageant is a truth – not only does she identify as a women (and has since the age of four) but legally (like – BY LAW PEOPLE) she is a woman.

Period. (No pun intended.)

Hence, she should qualify.

The fact of the matter remains that we, as a society, are missing the much bigger problem at hand.

The real issue is the fact that we’re living in the twenty-first century and beauty pageants are things that actually still exist.

I don’t know if I can think of anything more ridiculous, antiquated and painfully sexist that marching a bunch of women across a stage and marking them on how well they model a bikini.

Or evening gown.

And don’t even get me on those events that try to promote some level of “legitimacy” because they have a talent component.

You’re going to tell me that some washed up NBA star, or some hate-mongering gossip columnist is going to be able to (competently!) judge between a Mozart-penned aria and a baton twirling routine? A Schubert fugue in A minor and a rhythmic gymnastics programme?

Give me a break. No, give me all the breaks.

To me, the choice to include a talent section and then market the event as progressive is basically akin to the organizers trying to frame their competition as the Diet Coke of beauty pageants.

Let’s call it “sexism lite.”

But it’s not like they’re any better than the original product (which would be Coke, or “sexism original” if you will.)

Both are still responsible for reinforcing highly destructive, prescriptive, and dangerous gender norms.

Or, to go back to the drink analogy – having some kind of special skill component in your competition might spare you from contracting diabetes, but don’t kid yourself, you’re still going to develop that brain tumor.

I mean come on. At the root of it, both propagate the socially accepted, (nay institutionalized) notion that all woman everywhere must first and foremost be judged on the way they look.

Good thing because goodness knows that’s a movement that needs all the help it can get.

For more information please see:

I am of the mind that we should just make it so that no women EVER are allowed to enter these contests.

Because then, finally, we could add them to that special collection in our planet’s attic (you know that trash bag labelled “what the hell where we thinking?”) along with Lysol douching products, lead based makeup (which I’m actually afraid isn’t so much a thing of the past), and shoulder pads.

Another reason why I loathe these competitions is the (always brutal) question and answer component of the evening.

The women stand there in their bedazzled gowns, smiling as if their lives depended on it, calculating how they will be able to answer a question without really, you know, answering the question.

It’s like a bloody political debate all of a sudden appears and sets up shop on stage. Afraid of alienating voters, the contestants must find creative ways of filling up their allotted thirty seconds by not really saying anything.

And as such, none of the contestants ever give a real, heartfelt response.

This, I imagine, is in part due to the fact that they know that 1.) Unfortunately, the majority of the audience has no interest is what they really think, 2.) should they go out on a limb and speak their mind, the chance that this choice would come back and bite them is huge (both during the competition, or throughout their careers post-pageant, and 3.) the rule of the game is please everyone, so try your best not to rock the boat, and just give an answer that is non-threatening and easy to digest.

Now, I take great issue with all of these points. But just thinking about number three makes me feel like tearing out my hair and setting fire to my entire wardrobe.

Because, these notions of having an opinion, but not being pushy about it; about pleasing others before yourself; of not rocking the boat with your convictions; about worrying about how others will perceive you and your ideas (and how they could impact your career) – these are behavioral mechanisms force fed to women, all around the world, all day, every day.

And to see them glamorized, (and celebrated!) on a local, provincial, national, international stage – well, that just demoralizes the heck out of me.

We should be celebrating actions over aesthetics; convictions and passions over rhetoric and clichés.

In the end, wanting world peace isn’t wrong.

But a system that dictates that one need qualify this want by looking good in bathing suit and providing proof of their “natural femininity” on national television IS wrong.

A competition that buys into this system and (dangerously) sells itself as some kind of measuring stick for femininity IS wrong.

And I know that as of this moment, I am really ready for something that is right.