09 August 2007

Please correct your "duck toddle" before you wear those Marc Jacobs peep toes


Not every woman was born with an elegant gait and an appreciation for catwalk posture, this I understand.

After all, I was once that girl whose ballet teacher politely but forcefully told her, "You is not so much dancer, no?" and handed her, after only three lessons, an envelope inside of which was her mother's uncashed check for the 10-week class fee and a Post-it that read, "This just isn't working out -- ballet is not for every child."

In short, as a young girl and even into my earlier adulthood, I too used to be pretty rough around the edges when it came to entering a room.

And heels? Forget about it. Until I moved to DC in the Fall of 2004 and made the conscious decision to live my life according to Ludacris' classic lyric, "We want a lady in the street and a freak in the bed," I was a mess of thick-heeled tromping and tripping, blisters and cuticle tears, complaining, excuse-making, foot-dragging and yes, even a bit of the nightmare that is the splayed-foot "duck toddle."

You know what I'm talking about. It's everywhere in this city, and frankly, I find it appalling, especially when on the ends of those webbed feet are a pair of suffering yet stunning Marc Jacobs patent leather peep toes. I'm willing to accept there may be a handful of women who were born with some kind of flipper-foot condition for which not even arduous physical therapy and corrective shoes can bring about a remedy, and to those women, I readily apologize for my insensitivity. But as for the rest of you, honestly, how difficult can it be to shift your minute hands from 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock to 12?

I did it, I taught my friends S, M and J how to do it, and being the meticulous celebristalker I am, I've watched countless child-cum-adult actresses do it as well.

Just like I say to those people who advocate every body type has an equal right to stuff itself into every trend "just because," if your goal isn't to look as elegant, polished and figure-flattering as possible, then go ahead, opt for the masculine she-beast look and continue to sully my city's sidewalks with your "duck toddle." That's your cross to bear, not mine. But don't be surprised if you and your walk end up on this site associated with a post that in its title includes either the phrase, "all sorts of fug" or "Hobbit feet make my eyes go 'ouch.' "

And finally, not that we would ever as professional, independent women go out of our way to do anything to make ourselves more attractive for the opposite sex, keep in mind that men are almost always drawn to confident women who, quite literally, exude that same brand of I'm-a-force-to-be-reckoned-with confidence in every step they take.

Just sayin'...

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm making a valiant, I believe, effort to become a heel wearer. What tips do you have to impart to those of us who are not content to waddle, heelscrape or resign ourselves to flats?

dara said...

I see that walk every single day on DC's streets, and I agree with you that it is for the most part a choice when these women walk like ducks in their heels. And it's so horrendously unfeminine. Blech.

Anonymous said...

LOL. Good call. And this is coming from a member of that "other" gender you're not supposed to be impressing.

georgia said...

I found that the best way to teach yourself to walk correctly (walk, not waddle) is to do runner's drills of walking for 10 meters with your feet turned in to the point of exaggeration. Then turn around and walk those same 10 meters with your feet turned out, first position style, to the point of exaggeration. This strengthens and balances the muscles that control your feet and will cause you to naturally (i.e. without thinking) walk with feet elegantly forward.

Now...my mom would like to go up to every woman in DC she saw last weekend and forcibly roll their shoulders back and tell them to stand up straight and stick the girls out where they belong.

georgia said...

PS - I can't help with the help scraping...wore flats today and my adorable little bows got caught in a rogue cord making me land belly-to-floor in front of my entire department. Good day.

Melanie said...

I'm with anonymous #1 ... every time I read about the ladies in the neighborhood, I feel the urge to straighten up and fly right (partially because I don't want to be your next victim, but mostly because I know I ought to). Do you have any tips for new heel-wearers, especially those who are blister prone? I have decently high arches, and the foot position thing doesn't bother me...but I definitely get blisters and hotspots and all that nonsense. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Are you really that starved for style commentary that you have to write a post making fun of the way women walk? Or maybe you're just trying to create as big a void as possible between the qualiy of your writing (which is admittedly quite good) and the quality of what you're writing about?

m said...

Check this out if you need more help :)
http://www.legworkdvd.com/

Maybe for my charity program, J will join me in passing out DVDs to those who need them most.

Melanie said...

To clarify, by "foot position thing" I mean, I don't get leg pain or whatever from wearing heels...just abrasions. I also don't waddle (modeling lessons when I was seven and years of ballet).

brown rowergirl said...

anonymous 4:04-

she's not *really* making fun of anyone, she's just getting across the point that an ungraceful walk can detract from a woman's otherwise elegant appearance. Jo, keep it up, and by it I mean saying what few other women have the guts to say out loud - much less in such a public way!

loves ya,
B

m said...

Melanie - there is some stuff they sell at sephora for feet to keep them from getting blisters and such. There was once a post about here here on ASJiNE but I can't seem to remember when. I believe the stuff is called Model Feet...

Hope that helps :)

K said...

Band-Aid blister stick has ended all blistering for me. I just have to remember to use it, is the only catch.

But when I do, I can wear my highest heels for the longest distances with nary a red spot.

D said...

GREAT post!!!:)

Johanna said...

Hopeful heel wearers-

Like anything, getting used to and feeling comfortable in heels takes practice. I walked around my apartment in them, wore them while I watched movies on my couch, and pranced around in varying heights and heel thicknesses in just about every in-private venue I could think of before I felt comfotable enough to debut them in public. In continuing the training metaphor, I also advise wearing them every day as long each day as you can.

People always ask me why I walk to and from work in 3.75-inch and up heels. The answer is that the longer I wear them, the more comfortable they become, and I've now hit a point where my heels feel like a natural extension of my legs. I feel confident in saying I could just as easily run a short distance in my stilettos as I could my Brooks trainers.

If you're prone to blisters, you either have cheaply made shoes or they're too small. I have no real remedy for the former other than recommending some reliably well-made pumps, but if your shoes are a half-size or less too tight, I strongly suggest wearing them with a thick tube sock around your house for a weekend before trying them outside -- especially in this high humidity.

any other questions?

best,
J

nyc admirer said...

Watching movies on the couch in heels, eh? Are you trying to drive the male population crazy?

freckledk said...

I need help with this. Two inch heels cripple me. I am only good for about two blocks and then the balls of my feet catch fire, and ache for the entire next day I've tried cushioned insoles, but no dice. So, I've been sticking to kitten heels or lower wedges.

But, oh, how I would love to strut around in a pair of 4-inchers. It's one of my greatest wishes.

Melanie said...

Thanks!