My son was leaning out of the window when I arrived and watched me walk to his door. He was eyeing me strangely, but said nothing until I had brought him his morning coffee.

“I’d forgotten that you were female.” This, I thought, had to be some new and devious method of insulting me upon which he had been working… it is a family thing, a gesture of affection… He remained silent for a while, and, rendered speechless, so did I. Eventually, he clarified and apparently he was serious. “Really, I had completely forgotten you were female. It’s the heels… they look feminine.”

The implications of this statement were not lost upon me, though had I not married his father, I might have retaliated suitably. So, heels equal femininity, do they? And I never wear them any more…

Being an unnatural female, I loathe shoe-shopping, but there are times when needs really must. This time, I am being forced by flapping soles and cold, wet feet to acknowledge that I will be obliged to brave both the horrors of going into town and the even worse ordeal of trawling the shoe shops for something suitable.

My needs are simple… flattish, reasonably foot-shaped, with a light, flexible sole that will do double duty as everyday footwear and for the occasional bit of rock climbing and moor-walking. My current choice came from the local supermarket two years ago and cost me about an hour’s pay and they have lasted remarkably well. The uppers are still perfectly respectable, but as the soles have parted company from them in places and been worn through to the insole in others… not to mention having split across the balls of my feet… the wet weather we are having makes replacing them an urgent necessity.

They are not my only pair of shoes. I am not quite that unnatural. There are the mud-boots and walking shoes in the car, a pair of heels I will only wear under extreme social duress, one pair of sandals and my old ballroom shoes in the wardrobe. Forced to make a drier choice to go to work today, I had dug out the pair of trouser-shoes I bought long ago to go with my business suit. As I seldom wear trousers and no longer own a suit, these shoes, with their small, sensible heel, seldom see the light of day, but apparently their minimal heels are enough to make the difference between androgynity and femininity, at least to my son.

I stopped wearing heels when I started pushing a wheelchair and became a mobile walking frame. With a son a foot taller than me hanging on my shoulder, I needed all the stability I could get. I had been a dancer with point shoes… my habitual footwear had been high heels for years… and my toe joints had suffered accordingly. Flat shoes were suddenly appreciated at a personal level too and gradually became my footwear of choice.

Should I now to go back to heels in order to recapture the essence of femininity that I have apparently lost in my quest for comfortable feet?

No chance.

I have spent too much of my life trying to project a conformable image… one that was both appropriate for the situation, and…more dangerously… one that others might, I hoped, interpret in a way that would make me acceptable within their criteria. Short skirts and heels? Well coiffed hair? Business suit or evening gown, I dressed for others, not for me.

A natural part of the ageing process is a growth in self confidence. It really does matter less what others think about you. It matters more how they feel about you as a person, and, even more importantly, what you feel about yourself.

Yet the world has its sartorial stereotypes, imposed, often enough, by the media, the class system and our own memories of what was considered suitable for previous generations. Although we are generally more accepting of what would once have been considered eccentricity in dress, there are still cut-off points, beyond which an automatic judgement seems to kick in, where eyebrows are raised and less-than-complimentary labels are mentally applied.

My own son, the one who sparked these reflections with his comment, has strict notions of propriety where my dress is concerned. Neither knees nor chest are acceptable if visible and he finds it uncomfortable if I am wearing make-up and have tidy hair unless we are going somewhere.

I will give a nod to conformity when I must. I can, and will, dress appropriately for an occasion where it is a matter of respect for others. The rest of the time, I dress as I please. If I wonder at all what others make of my long skirts and draped shawls these days, it is mere curiosity…and I do not need to prove my femininity to anyone else.

And that thought, sparked by my son’s comment, is a real gift. So many of us spend too much of our lives trying to squeeze ourselves in an image that is not our own, and too many try to push us into being what they believe we should be, without any regard for who we actually are. The image of ourselves that we show to the world should be our own, the one that feels right and in which we really are comfortable… the one in which we can be ourselves.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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61 Responses to Comfortable?

  1. Well said, Sue! I have to say I really dislike the idea, promoted by visuals in all sorts of places, that to be a real woman one must wear 4-inch stilettos. Just looking at those things makes my feet hurt. Good luck with shoe shopping!


  2. Well said that woman!


  3. β€œComfortable” is an ideal adjective to apply to clothing. Comfort in your clothes, your skin, and yourself.


  4. jenanita01 says:

    shoes are a pain, this is Anita by the way…


  5. jenanita01 says:

    OMG! This has to be a red letter day! While I was away from my pc this morning, Anita sat down at the desk and started to read your post, Sue. When she had finished, she insisted on commenting. I should mention that she has never touched a keyboard before (and never wanted to!) For five long years I have been trying to interest her in everything I do each day, but she has always claimed she couldn’t do it. Couldn’t learn enough to cope with all the complexities of it. I tell her that if I can do it, pretty much anyone can, but I have never managed to convince her.
    Until today… There is a distinct possibility I have just created a monster…
    Strange this should happen today, with the subject being comfort. It was odd to be the teacher for once, watching someone else struggle with what I now take for granted.


  6. TanGental says:

    You and my wife would get on just fine. Poor thing is going through the trauma of pretending to enjoy the processs of wedding dress shopping with the the Vet. At least she has the chance to read in the corner of the room while all the primping and tugging goes on. As she said two days ago, β€˜at least this fulfils any shopping quotas there maybe.’ I don’t expect to see her in any shoe or clothes shop anytime soon… now a museum or galllery or book shop….


  7. Pingback: Comfortable? β€” Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo | tabletkitabesi

  8. Yes! Becoming happy with the real me is the best part of aging. (And wearing flats πŸ˜‰)


  9. scifihammy says:

    A very interesting post and a good read. πŸ™‚
    I’ve always been a bit of a Tom Boy and prefer jeans to skirts any day. As to comfy shoes, yes, I get that too. Good luck when you go shopping. πŸ™‚


  10. earthskyair says:

    Love this post. “The image of ourselves that we show to the world should be our own” Yes!


  11. Amen to this πŸ™‚ Please say “hi” to Nick for me. This post makes me miss him. ❀


  12. V.M.Sang says:

    You sound just like me, Sue. Flat shoes rule! and they’re better for your feet. I, too, used to wear heels, but now, like you, only possess 1 pair, to be worn on ‘occasions’ only. Although I must admit to having a pair of teeny heels, only about a 1 inch high that I wear on rare occasions, but more often than not it’s flats.
    A great fun post.


  13. A wonderful post, Sue!

    I remember the day I got rid of nearly 50 pairs of my favourite heels after I realized the MS made it so I’d never be able to walk in them again. I was in mourning for ages and there are still some I wish I’d kept just to be able to look at them!


  14. I hate shopping for clothes AND shoes! I have two pairs of trainers, a pair of boots, a pair of green wellies from the boat and a pair of slippers. Having shopped for my posh frock (my only dress) for my niece’s wedding last year, I needed shoes and thought I could get a nice pair of heels. I tried a pair on and nearly fell flat on my face. I stuck to a pair of blue mules I already had that I could wear without tights, but they have now bitten the dust and gone to that great shoe rack in the sky.


  15. j.a. case says:

    Excellent post, hurrah for being comfortable in who we are πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Eliza Waters says:

    I, too, loathe clothes and shoe shopping. An exhausting process that often leads to zero results. I wore heels only in my early 20s and soon learned they weren’t the best things for my feet. I’ve been fortunate to work in laid back jobs where dress didn’t matter so long as it was respectable. At this stage of our lives, we ought to be able to please ourselves – we’ve earned the right!


  17. I’m with you, Sue… I had to give up heels a couple of decades ago (knee problems) and glad that I did. Being comfortable with ourselves is what gives confidence. πŸ™‚


  18. dgkaye says:

    I hear you on many counts. Although I may be one of the last dinosaurs who still loves shoes with heels – albeit, much shorter heels these days. ❀


  19. Jennie says:

    Amen! It takes so many years, decades, to have enough life experiences to gain confidence and a sense of self. I finally hit that (wonderful) mark somewhere around 50, and never looked back. My shoes are the proof. πŸ™‚


  20. Interesting, Sue. I also don’t wear high heels often any more. They make my lower back ache when I have to walk around a lot at work. Which seems very often. Your son’s comment is intriguing.


  21. Annecdotist says:

    Barefoot or walking boots for me, with little in between. Stilettos aren’t quite as extreme as Chinese foot binding but they’re on the same spectrum. Don’t cripple yourselves, people!


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