Genbot’s Weblog


Artifact – The Stiletto Heel
February 26, 2008, 6:10 pm
Filed under: 2008

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Terminal 1 Sunday night 11ish in Toronto Airport waiting for a connection – scads of reading week kids going back to university and newly-tanned flip-flopped families and couples returning from warm and sunny climes with straw baskets and nascent skin peels…and there in front of me is Barbie Grown Up – about 5’6″, a deeply burnished tan, black flowing sleeveless dress, slightly permed hair blondish hair like the 1964 Barbie ‘do, and clipetty clipetty clop, sharp clipetty clipetty on the terminal floor…shapely legs precariously perched on these amazing shiny black sling-back toe-less Barbie Doll shoes! Just like the little plastic shoes that fascinated and frustrated us young Barbie aficionados – fascinating because of the weird girly-girl-grownup-sexy thing to the shoes (what you think when you’re 6 years old and scooting around in pale blue Keds with skinned and scabbed knees)

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and frustrating because the shoes always got lost or chewed up by dogs…well, of course I was fascinated and horrified at the same time; fascinated that this woman could so elegantly clippety clop down the terminal in what seemed to me a feat of ingenious physical stability, and horrified that, well, that there was a Real Life Barbie (caveat: I haven’t lived in Southern California in 20 years, where Barbie was More Than Ever Alive).

So indeed. The Stiletto Heel, a gendered artifact.

Check out the High Heel Shoe Museum, an article on learning how to walk in stilettos and how wearing stilettos can boost your sex life (um, if you’re a woman), by, according to Dr. Maria Cerruto of the University of Verona, working the pelvic muscles and thus reducing the need to exercise them.

So maybe Barbie’s not such a bimbo after all?

And, as a fetish object, indeed:
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The boot version, ca. late 1970s, Vogue, Helmut Newton photo I believe…

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