The Stilettos Vantage Point

Somewhere between 45 and 60 my height changed. Since I was twelve, I stood proudly at 5’7.”  That is until that nasty nurse recorded my height as 5′ 6 1/2.”

“No,” I said, “I’m 5’7″.”

“Not anymore.”

Images of The Incredible Shrinking Man flooded my mind. This was not good. The nurse didn’t seem to be concerned.

Me? I was pulsating like crazy.

As soon as I got home I went to my good friend Google to find out what this could possibly mean (other than the obvious, I am now 1/2 inch shorter than I am entitled to be.)

Google has this attitude that shrinking is inevitable. In fact, no matter how many different ways I asked Google the question, Google keeps giving me the same, unsatisfactory answer.

Starting at about age 40, people tend to lose about four-tenths of an inch of height every decade, said Dr. David B. Reuben, chief of geriatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at U.C.L.A. Some of the height loss occurs as part of the normal aging process, and some because of disease. Our old friend gravity, bane of the first vertical height measurement, also plays a role. “It’s a Newton thing,” said Dr. Reuben, a past president of the American Geriatrics Society.

 New York Times, January, 2013

Shrinking may be a gradual thing, but the realization that I was shrinking felt like I had been abruptly sucker-punched.  Shorter people have a different vantage point on the world. Their line of sight is different. I like my line of sight.

With a 3.5 inch heel, this is as high as I go.  The Karolina by Kate Spade.

With a 3.5 inch heel, this is as high as I go. The Karolina by Kate Spade.

I like when shorter people ask me to get something off the top shelf in the cupboard. It feels good to have shorter people tilt their head up to talk to me. Being tall is part of my self-image and I am not in the mood to have the aging process take that self-image away.

Which is where  the idea of buying my first pair of high heels comes in. Truth is, I’m more a Birkenstock, Dansko kinda girl than Jimmy Choo or Christian Louboutin. 

Nevertheless, as I was coming to grip with my shortened stature, I realized that if I simply wore heels I could enjoy the vantage point I used to have, and then some.

I am definitely not advocating that women over 60 should wear heels. I don’t wear them all the time. Right now I’m in a comfy pair of Wolkys.

What I am advocating is to live your life with delights- whatever that may be. Stilettos, hiking, traveling, cooking, being with friends.

Of course, Stilettos@60 is not really about wearing heels. It’s a metaphor for doing the things you want to do,right now! Will I be wearing heels next year? In five years? Who knows and that is not my point.

What I’ve discovered about wearing heels at 63 is that they’re fun (when my feet aren’t killing me because sometimes heels really do hurt). Every time I put them on, I think back to the five-year-old me when my mom let me play dress up. I would  wear her very red lipstick,  put a bunch of pop beads around my neck,  and walk  around the living room in her size 5 heels. I loved playing dress up.

That five-year-old was feisty and fearless. So, when this 63-year -old puts on a pair of  heels it reminds me of that girl- the one who believed the world was there for her to conquer, if she just put one foot in front of the other.

I brought this up the next time I talked to the writer. “Did you realize you’ve written almost the exact same story?” I asked.

“What are you talking about?” she said. “This one’s about a Jewish funeral the other ones about that girl getting a fetus from the crazy lady at the gas station.”

“But the ideas are exactly the same.  They are both about getting old and not leaving a mark on the world.” She didn’t want to agree, but she conceded that there was a very faint possibility that getting old and not accomplishing much was one of the demons she was dealing with in the story and in her life.

Understanding Vantage Point and Using it in Your Writing- Nathan Feuerberg

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