Q: How can you tell a Brazilian woman from a foreign woman in Brazil?
A: Look at their feet.
The gringas are wearing Havaianas (everywhere, not just at the beach), sneakers, crocs, or “sturdy” walking sandals.
The Brazilian women* are wearing high heels, platform sandals, wedges, expensive sandals decked out with rhinestones, or (in the winter) stylish boots – with heels.
* The ones who have the means not to have to take public transportation. Heels are thus also a separator of economic classes… but that’s a whole different post.
Seeing as Brazilian society is more image-conscious than that of my home country, I’ve been trying to dress a little more chique. I’m wearing nicer clothes, perfume, and jewelry on a regular basis. But I cannot bring myself to wear heels, and here’s why:
1. I walk up to 8 hours a week, every week.
High heels, in my opinion, are for looking pretty at the occasional party, banquet, or wedding (and even then, you slip them off to dance!) Not for walking over an hour a day up and down hills, and certainly not for carrying various kilograms of groceries home from the supermarket. Plus, if I wore heels it’d take me twice as long to walk anywhere – especially considering the next item on this list.
You may say I could wear Havaianas for the walking and bring a pair of heels in a plastic bag to change into at work or wherever – but that’s a level of effort I’m not willing to go to, particularly on days when I’m carrying a bag, four textbooks, and an umbrella.
2. Brazilian sidewalks are already hazardous enough.
Salvador’s sidewalks look like an earthquake just hit the city. Cracks, loose stones, random pieces of embedded mental sticking up, deep holes – the pictures speak for themselves:
And these aren’t sidewalks in the “abandoned” parts of town. All the sidewalks in the city are like this, whether in rich neighborhoods or poor. The only smooth, even, well-maintained sidewalk you’ll find in Salvador is the one in front of the international airport.
Terrain like this makes every single step a risk for a broken ankle even with normal footwear. With heels it’d be, oh, about 1000 times worse.
3. High heels destroy a woman’s mobility.
If I were wearing high heels and there was some emergency, tell me, how am I supposed to run? If I’m in the street with my future children and a dangerous situation should arise in which I need to move quickly, do I really want my heels making it impossible to do so?
NO FREAKING WAY.
Conclusion: Mobility is a blessing. Heels are a curse.
Every time I make the 17-story climb on my way home from English class, I thank God that I have strong legs, functional joints, and healthy lungs. No joke. Having unrestricted physical mobility is a blessing that I don’t take for granted a single day.
Why would I sacrifice that blessing in the name of “beauty” or “fashion”?