Digging My Heels In

Digging My Heels In

I’ve recently learned to embrace flats (shoes).

Trust me. This hasn’t been easy.

I’m 4’11”, so for me, heels are kind of a necessity.

But…

I have RA. And every time I wear heels, I very quickly end up regretting it.

I should know that if the most comfortable shoes hurt my feet by the end of the day, why would I expect anything less from heels? In fact, I usually can’t make it the entire day when I am wearing heels.

This is especially an issue because I have nodules on my right foot, and even the front of heeled shoes tends to cause problems and discomfort.

But there is a part of me that still desires shoes that look cute and pretty.

I recently found a pair of shoes that are super comfy. The catch is – maybe you guessed it – they’re kind of ugly. They’re not ugly ugly, but they aren’t super cute either.

But they are just so amazingly comfortable. My feet feel like they are floating on clouds. And that says a lot, right?

In New York, I always see women walking in these ridiculously high heeled shoes, and I’m jealous.

I know that some people have a separate pair of shoes and they wear the more practical ones and then change.

But at some point, practicality has to trump vanity – at least when it comes to myself.

When you have RA, it’s hard to be vain. It’s hard to really care about your looks when you are exhausted and don’t feel good.

Believe me, the temptation is definitely there. I want to care about my appearance. I even want to put some time into focusing on it. But then comes the realities of RA, and that stuff doesn’t seem to matter so much. It gets put on the back burner. There are more important things to worry about.

But I think there’s also no shame in trying.

I hate prednisone because it makes me hate the way I look. And for me, the potential benefit isn’t really worth me hating myself over.

I know that for me, I have gravitated more to purses as opposed to clothes and shoes.

My body has changed, and trying clothes on is kind of depressing these days.

And trying shoes on is downright painful. Plus, I’m still so tempted to buy shoes that aren’t practical, and that I end up regretting after I wear them.

So what’s the point, really?

No matter how hard I try, I just end up disappointed in this regard.

But I’m stubborn. Really, really stubborn. And when everyone else my age is wearing five-inch stilettos, it’s just another reminder that I’m different, and that my priorities may be less frivolous than those around me

It’s function over form, that’s for sure. And that often means that you’re giving up style for comfort.

And to me, that seems like an apt comparison to RA in general. It’s definitely function over form, all the way. The thing is, it’s important how joints function, not how good they look, although that’s definitely important, too.

So this is a hard balance if, like me, you haven’t thrown all of your previous, pre-diagnosis life out the window. I’m kind of a shopaholic, but these days, the most adventurous I get is Amazon.com (and I don’t really buy clothes or shoes from them; books mostly, and random other stuff).

So how do you balance caring about what you look like, while also being realistic about RA, what it does to your appearance, and what you are forced to give up because of it?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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