Female Masochism: Is it Worth the Pain?

If you live in Beirut, then formal nights are inevitable. Looking for a quiet dinner? You better dress up. Fancy a night on the town with some friends? I hope your outfit is at least half covered in sequins. Invited to yet another wedding? Say goodbye to any feeling in your toes for the next week.

As a female, pain is inevitable. That much is made clear to you from the moment your mother is handed your wrinkly little body sheathed in a little pink blanket in the maternity ward.

Growing up, wearing heels was a big pain. Now, for some godforsaken reason, we females willingly—no, enthusiastically­—choose to partake in the entirely masochistic invention that is heels. Logically speaking, we all know it’s ridiculous.

I like my feet. I dislike self-mutilation. So why then do I continuously insist on subjecting my poor, poor feet to physical torture? Why do we, as females, spend hundreds of dollars on footwear when we full well know that by the end of the night, our feet will look like bloody stumps attached to sore ankles?

The answer? Vanity.

In ancient China, women used to break their toes, fold them beneath the soles of their feet, and then secure them with a piece of fabric. After the tissue grew over the wound, they would repeat the process over and over until their feet were small, petite, and “beautiful.”

foot binding china

Sure, heels are significantly less painful than Chinese foot binding, but the concept is the same. We stuff our toes into slightly too small shoes to be beautiful.

And you know what? I’m totally okay with that. Because you know what - heels are gorgeous. They come in a hundred different colors and designs, make you taller (for those with really tall friends — myself included), and give you an overall sense of regality.

But maybe that’s just because you’re forced to stand up straight in fear of falling over.

Kanzi Kamel
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Kanzi is an American-Egyptian writer, baker and adventurer living in Beirut. Amongst other things, her life goals are to write a novel, find the lost city of Atlantis and teach Beirut the importance of cheesecake. She currently works as an Editor and Project Coordinator at Keeward.