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20.03.2015
The Annual Norwegian Walking Festival is a successful example of public private partnership working together to capitalise on the special qualities of the region of Nordmore to promote public health, encourage local economy and establish sustainable tourism as a philosophy. Further, using the festival as a flagship has given the partnership focus, and helped advance their key aim of promoting the area as a recreational hub througout the year. With each measured step, my heels echoed with a finality that emphasized my leaving, which was important: I was angry and I wanted to be taken seriously. I’ve been thinking about this moment with the SVP and my relationship with heels recently. Our early ancestors didn’t concern themselves with stilettos or the spring collection of Manolos. In Europe, it was common for women to use a patten to help keep their skirts and soft slipper shoes clean as the streets weren’t paved. The widespread popularity of the heel is credited to Catherine de Medici who wore heels to make her look taller. In the US, the French heel was popularized in the late 19th-century by a brothel, Madam Kathy’s, where the proprietor noted that business boomed after she employed a French woman who wore high-heels. The human foot is one the most intricate structures in the body: it contains one-third of the bones in the body (26), has 35 joints, and more than 100 ligaments, tendons, and muscles. The big toe projects beyond other toes (generally, though the exception known as the Grecian toe is noted, where the second toe tends to be longer than the big toe), and is bound to the other toes (non-grasping), which has been linked to the development of the ball of the foot, and is connected to the human stride. The arch(es) of the foot supports weight, absorbs the shock of walking, and enhances balance.
The heel of the foot is home to an enlarged muscle that helps lift the body up and forward, shifting weight to the ball of the foot, enabling us to walk and run. High-heels place undue stress on feet, directing pressure to the toes instead of distributing it evenly between toe and heel, and the arch loses its ability to absorb the shock and help us balance. Based on comparative animal ecology and behavior one would predict that males should be advertising through the display of their assets (physical or otherwise). But we can’t overlook the role of the aristocrats either, who wore heels to reflect an elevated status, hide defects, and distinguish themselves.
Heels have gone up, and come down again reflect the culture and time, and needs of the population. After only three years, this festival has already gained national and international attention, helping to promote the area.


The sound of my three-inch heels striking the tiles spoke volumes—and did so much more eloquently than I would have been able to at the moment. A meeting with a senior vice president at a leading digital agency in New York City had gone horribly wrong: Her team had asked me to consult on a project they were considering, but within a few minutes it became clear that we would not be able to work together.
Many men admit to have having 3-4 pairs of shoes: boots, sneakers, and a pair or two of dress shoes in black and brown.
And so it appears have others around me—been thinking about my relationship with my shoes, I mean. Even the Gods and heroes were primarily depicted barefoot, and the hoplite warriors fought battles in bare feet and Alexander the Great conquered half of the ancient world with barefoot armies.The adoption of shoes, and the heel, for Greeks appears to coincide with Roman influence, and ultimately Roman conquest. Pattens were slightly elevated platforms that were worn over the slipper-type shoes that were common at the time. When she wore them to her wedding to Henry II of France, they became a status symbol for the wealthy.
And while males do advertise in Western society, females also engage in equally conspicuous advertising and sexual signaling. One of the comments made by a colleague about my tendency to sport heels with my wardrobe was that she was surprised by the heel height.
There is something to be said for being able to look someone (as close as possible) in the eye. Recently, author Elizabeth Semmalhack linked heel height in the US to periods of economic depression, suggesting that heels provided a sense of escapism in dire times (13).
The earliest confirmed instance of footwear dates to approximately 9,000 year ago, and was found in Oregon. Both through the festival and all year around activities connected to it, the region of Nordmore is developing as a strong brand for outdoor recreation.
Shoes in the form of sandals emerged around 9,000 years ago as a means of protecting bare feet from the elements (specifically, frostbite) (3).
Roman fashion was viewed as a sign of power and status, and shoes represented a state of civilization.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, women are nine times more likely to develop a foot problem due to improperly fitting shoes when compared to men (7).
Louis XIV knew this: a notoriously short man, he had cork heels added to his shoes, raising them to almost four inches in height.


It is true that following the French Revolution, heels in France were lowered as the aristocrats sought to distance themselves from the power and status the higher heel represented. Much of the success can be attributed to the broad private public partnership and their enthusiasm and belief in the project and the vision behind it; to make the region a preferred walking area for body and soul.
Annoyed, and believing that her behavior toward her staff spoke volumes about the sort of relationship we would have, I decided I had had enough. The Greeks viewed shoes as an indulgence—a means of increasing status, though it was a Greek, Aeschylus, who created the first high heel, called korthonos for theatrical purposes. However this begins to shift during the High Renaissance, when the Venetian courtesans began to wear chopines: extremely high platform shoes.
These shoes initially required women to use walking sticks to keep their balance until the height of the heel was reduced. In these comments linger traces of those who helped popularize heels: the courtesans, the prostitutes, and those women otherwise involved in selling beauty and appeal.
Perhaps courtesans wore heels to enhance their sexuality, but perhaps it also helped them transact their business in a more serious manner. It may have to do with the fact that I seem to walk more authoritatively (as I attempt to keep my balance, each foot must come down surely), and my standing stance is a bit straighter (again, balance) but the added height definitely helps.
Apparently, my rising heel has elicited some commentary between a subset of friends who are rather surprised that a smart, sensible woman such as myself would subject my feet to such a tortuous experience. Greek women adopted the trend, taking the wedge heel to new heights that the late Alexander McQueen would have likely applauded. They were so difficult to walk in that women often needed a female servant to help keep them upright, and were ultimately banned for pregnant women as a number of women in Venice suffered miscarriages after falling (5). But with Greer’s remarks in mind, I make sure I have a pair of flats with me for when I want and need to run.
But I am not alone: on the subway and on the street, on their way to the office or a night out, there appears to be any number of women for whom shoes are an important aspect of dress.
Chopines remained in vogue, however, because they proved effective at keeping clothes (and feet) clear of the muck that covered the streets.



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