Standing Tall

Sara - Clear Brook, Virginia
Entered on May 9, 2008

I believe buying a good pair of high heels can change any and every girl’s life for the better.

Starting in seventh grade, I became the most unpopular kid in school. At that time, I felt like I’d never be able to outlive or live down the rampant rumors. I was ashamed to be me; a sentiment not helped by my peers. My deepest, most sincere desire was to be invisible; a difficult task when I stood at 5’9”, taller than 90% of my torturers.

Finally, in the tenth grade, my parents packed up and moved us to a new house and a new school, where I would not be plagued by daily insults and attacks. There, I was the new kid, but no one knew about my old life; I was safe to start over.

However, starting over was hard when I was still trained to feel worthless and undesirable. I was trying to make friends while still putting off the signals of the invisible woman. I hunched close to my desk, I avoided eye contact, and I was very hesitant to speak. These things felt like a part of me after using them to defend myself for so long, but I didn’t want them anymore; I didn’t need them. I had to find a way to ward off my self-loathing and make myself feel valuable. What could I change? At my height, flat shoes had been an integral part of my vanishing act–I started there.

Buying high heels was the first step in my plan to open myself up to life. I had wanted to hide from unwanted attention; I decided to willingly put myself in the spotlight. I thought that if it were my choice to stand out, I’d be in control of my image.

Once I’d decided my metamorphosis would start with shoes, I headed to the aptly titled Shoe-Mart. My old self was resisting, but I was a woman on a mission. I ended up buying a pair of black sandals with a 2-and-a-half inch rise that would match jeans or a party dress equally well—the perfect starter shoe.

The real test came when I got dressed the next day and stood in front of my mirror. If it had been hard to be invisible at 5’10”, it would be impossible at almost 6’1”. That’s the point, I told myself, No more hiding. This would be my first attempt to grab attention; I was taking back control of my self-image.

Now that I had resolved to be noticed, I decided to change my body. I stopped eating junk food and started working out. I felt truly healthy for the first time. Since I’d already made myself noticed by height, people noticed the results of my “Fab Abs” and “Dynamite Thighs” workouts. I got a lot of compliments, boosting my growing confidence.

I treated myself to some name-brand clothes for the first time. I bought bright, happy colors to reflect my buoying emotions. I no longer felt like a victim; I was the girl who took herself from self-conscious to self-assured; I could do anything into which I put my heart.

Since then, my shoe collection has grown; including flats, but my first pair of heels are still my favorite.