I Tried Wearing Wonder Woman Heels For A Day, But I Am Only Human

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Wonder Woman truly is a goddess among mortals. You know how I know that? Because I literally tried walking in her shoes for an entire day.
When the first stills for Wonder Woman came out back in March 2016, I was struck by a seemingly insignificant detail: Why were all these Amazonian warriors wearing heels?
I wasn't the only one to notice this — soon enough, the internet started to weigh in. Hadn't we been through this with Jurassic World? Isn't it tough enough for women to break into the superhero space, without having them overcome debilitating foot pain? (This, it turns out, wasn't the only problem with the Wonder Woman costume. Gal Gadot told Jimmy Kimmel that initially the outfit was so tight, she could barely breathe.)
At the time, director Patti Jenkins — who, by the way holds the distinction of being the first woman to direct a major superhero blockbuster film — weighed in, explaining that the heels represented her "wish fulfillment."
"I, as a woman, want Wonder Woman to be hot as hell, fight badass, and look great at the same time — the same way men want Superman to have huge pecs and an impractically big body, she told Entertainment Weekly. "That makes them feel like the hero they want to be. And my hero, in my head, has really long legs."
That's valid — I sometimes find heels empowering. And while I would assume sneakers would be more appropriate footwear for defending civilization, I have never attempted to fight crime in flats either, so who am I to judge?
A short time later, Gal Gadot made her first appearance as Wonder Woman in Batman vs. Superman. I paid close attention to her shoes, perhaps the only thing worth watching in that dumpster fire of a film. Rather than something as ridiculous as stilettos, Gadot was clad in a more sensible wedge heel, her ankles and calves supported by gladiator-like armor.
With every Wonder Woman trailer that followed, the question of how a woman would go about crouching and kneeling and sword-fighting in 4-inch heels nagged at me. So, I decided — why don't I try wearing her shoes for a day?
Full disclosure: Wonder Woman cosplay is expensive. Full costumes can run up to $1,500 on Etsy. Instead, I turned toward my own closet, to a pair of J-Crew wedges I had bought years ago when I decided I wanted to be a person who wore 4-inch wedges to work in New York City. (I am not that person.) I very unscientifically deduced that they looked roughly the same height as the shoes Wonder Woman sports in the new, updated version of her character. (Lynda Carter also wore heels in the TV series that ran from 1975 - 1979, but hers were thinner, curved heels, rather than wedges.)
Photo: Courtesy of Maia Efrem.
I set forth from my apartment on the Tuesday morning after Memorial Day, well-rested from a three-day weekend. It's a 10-minute walk to my office, a fact I usually brag about and relish. That morning, not so much. The commute was okay, but it wasn't the easy breezy walk I was used to. I had to pay attention where I walked — New York sidewalks are notoriously uneven, not a friend to those of us perched on non-flexible stilts.
Things got easier once I got to the office, but mostly because I was sitting down most of the time.
The ultimate goal of this day was to have me run in heels, a la Wonder Woman crossing the No Man's Land between German and British forces in World War I. But as the day went on, I got more and more nervous. Sure, walking to and from the kitchen was a breeze, and at times, I found myself thinking that this wearing heels thing wasn't so bad after all. But I also started to get Final Destination-style premonitions, visions of myself lying on the pavement with a broken ankle.
So, yes, I chickened out of that part. But I did record a glimpse of what it roughly would have looked like. This is me run-shuffling down the Refinery29 hallway. (I also attempted to crouch. There is no video evidence of this.)
Just like Wonder Woman, amirite?
In all seriousness, this experiment did prove something to me: I am only human. As is Gal Gadot, who reportedly wore sneakers underneath her gold armored spats while shooting, later CGI'd into the infamous wedges, and also made waves at the film's premiere by wearing flat sandals under gown, declaring: "They're more comfortable." Duh. When I got home, my feet were swollen, my toes red from the pressure of being pushed forward — not a good look, nor is it practical for physical exertion.
So, at the end of of all this, I'm still conflicted. Because on the one hand, Diana Prince (Wonder Woman's real name) is an Amazon! She's above us mortals, and doesn't have to be constrained by such petty restrictions as bunions and foot cramps. But for that very reason, I wish we could have female superheroes women can relate to, who embody the best of what we can, and should be, rather than a sexy ideal.
Then again, I had brought flip flops to wear home in case my feet couldn't handle being encased in pain stilts for the walk home — and I didn't need them. Instead, I braved the final stretch to my building standing 4-inches taller than I usually do. So, maybe we all have a little Wonder Woman in us after all.
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