I've only worn high heels once in the past year.
It was at a Know Your Value event in Philadelphia back in November and involved eight hours on stage, followed by two evening events.
It was an action-packed day, filled with incredible speakers, including Olympic ice hockey gold medalists Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Moreando, figure skating champion Johnny Weir, NBC’s Natalie Morales, finance expert Jean Chatzky, my fellow “Morning Joe” co-host and husband Joe Scarborough and many more.
I was so excited for the day to arrive. So I set out my clothes the night before. I picked a gorgeous navy dress and a matching pair of high heels.
I thought I looked great and super sleek as I glided across the stage.
But by the end of the day, I was hobbling. My feet felt like numb, limp stumps. I could barely walk. Every bone felt broken. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even accept the foot rub Joe offered me later that night!
“I keep telling you, you look much better in flats!” Joe told me. “Why do you do this to yourself?”
I paused, and I asked myself the same question.
Over a year ago, I developed a bunion on my right foot from the heels. I was in so much pain that I had to cut a hole in my running shoes to even be able to go out for a jog. That was the tipping point. I was going to wind up needing surgery if I didn’t make a change.
So now, every day on “Morning Joe,” whether I’m in New York, Washington D.C., or Florida, I wear sneakers.
Yup. My favorite pink sneakers.
The same pair.
Every day, even with a dress. They’re incredibly comfortable, and I absolutely love them!
If I have a more formal public event, I’ll stick a pair of heels in my bag. However, this past September at the Atlantic Festival, I forgot to pack the heels, so I popped up on stage in a black dress and my sneakers!
No one had a problem with it.
Cute shoes, no?
Flash forward to the Know Your Value event in Philadelphia as I questioned my decision to return to heels.
I asked myself: What’s with the addiction to tall, spiky, dangerous, pointy toed, three- to four-inch shoes that cause foot damage and pain?
My addiction and love for high heels started when I was a young girl. I remember wearing them as a 16-year-old intern for then-Sen. David Durenberger. In high school and college, I would sketch a simple high heel over and over during class.
Early in my career, if I was stuck waiting at a press conference, I would still pass the time drawing a perfect high heeled pump. To me, they seemed like mini sculptures.
I loved buying them too. I would treat myself to a pair of gorgeous pumps from time to time. When I wore them, I’d feel confident, strong and beautiful.
I’ve had a long, deep relationship with heels. Even with the discomfort, I could never seem to quit the spikes.
That’s why this was such a big change for me.
But after a year with no heels, I can honestly say the obsession is over! I’m shocked when I look back at pictures over the years.
I look ridiculous, and I would argue, even foolish, given all that we know about high heels' deleterious effects on your body.
“Morning Joe” medical contributor and spinal surgeon Dr. Campbell told me that high heels can “cause wear and tear on the low back and painful foot deformities, from unsightly bunions to heel spurs.”
And yet, millions of women spend unthinkable amounts of money on shoes built to hurt them. Shoes, that over the long term, can cause pain and damage.
This is the antithesis of the Know Your Value message. We are supposed to know our value in work and in life— that includes our health.
My feet are healthy again, and I’m running pain-free every day. I’m also happy to report that I no longer have to cut holes in my running shoes.
So, I ask our KYV community: How can we have an honest discussion about our value when we are having it wearing painful spikes that cost way too much? When are we going to stop feeding into this harmful style?
What is the purpose? Longer legs? What’s the look we are going for? Is it worth it? I say it’s not.
I believe that we can look fabulous with actually comfortable shoes on our feet.