By Helen Ovbiagele, Woman Editor
â€œLook Helen,â€ whispered a friend to me at her friendâ€™s private schoolâ€™s end of term and prize-giving day ceremony, â€œI canâ€™t bear it anymore.
I feel like taking the microphone and telling all the mothers here about the danger in putting these little girls in those high wedged shoes.Â Some are even wearing stiletto heels!Â Â I canâ€™t believe it.â€
â€œAnd some look like theyâ€™re only about ten years old; barely out of their babyhood and their diapers.â€
â€œExactly! Thatâ€™s why we must dissuade their mothers from this urge these days to catapult little girls into adulthood very early.Â Girls have no business wearing high-heeled shoes earlier than sixteen years of age; and even then, sensible ones, to start with.â€
â€œNot the six-inch type in which film stars and other celebrities stagger around, as we see on television.â€
â€œThatâ€™s it, Helen.
When you push little girls too early to behave like adults, they lose their childhood innocence fast and begin to embrace everything adult; including sexy outfits, an awareness of members of the opposite sex and relationships.
These high heels and bare-body outfitsÂ areÂ contributory factors to sexual promiscuity in our society.Â Girls and their mothers should be spoken to, so that the practice would stop now before more mothers and their little girls are indoctrinated; all in the name of fashion and the urge to be seen as being exposed and â€˜with itâ€™.â€
â€œYouâ€™re right, although what Iâ€™m concerned about is the leg health of our little girls in high heels, rather than their possible exposureÂ to boys and relationships.Â High heels affect not only the knees and ankles, but the spine, waist and posture. Problems may not start now, but much later as they approach middle-age.â€
â€œYes, orÂ even before then; when pregnancy and childbirth come, and those parts of their bodies come under much strain.Â You agree that an awareness should be created about the problem?
â€Yes, but how do you intend to go about it?â€
â€œWe can start right here now.â€
â€œWhen you say â€˜weâ€™ does that include me?â€
â€œYes, of course.Â Youâ€™re concerned about the girl-child and her upbringing, arenâ€™t you?Â Youâ€™ve written many articles on that over the years.â€
Yes but I wouldnâ€™t want to be insulted byÂ Â mothers who would feel that Iâ€™m intruding into their private lives. Some mothers I had suggested to in the past, that they shouldnâ€™t put their little girls into high-heeled shoes, were not receptive to the idea at all.
Some were quite rude and stopped short of asking me to mind my own business.Â One even told me that it is necessary to move with the times, and that it is old-fashioned to put little girls in flat heels.â€
â€œThatâ€™s the reaction of the unenlightened, Helen.Â Parents here at this gathering are more enlightened, and are exposed to healthy living than those you spoke to; Iâ€™m sure.Â Are you afraid of speaking to these mothers or what?
Wonâ€™t your conscience bother you if you allow this opportunity to slip by?Â Look, I can take the first slot and speak to them, then you can consolidate and support what Iâ€™ve said.Â Some other parents here may want to add their voices.
Youâ€™d be surprised to find out that there are parents who think the way we do about the matter.â€
â€œOkay, Iâ€™m behind you.Â I suggest you call asideÂ your friend the proprietress and ask for permission to speak on the subject.â€
â€œOh yes.Â She canâ€™t refuse. Sheâ€™s committed to her pupils.Â Thatâ€™s why this school, though small, is one of the best private primary schools in this area.Â Â Ah, there she is, with only two people with her.Â Letâ€™s go tell her our intention.â€
The proprietressÂ received us well and she listened patiently and carefully to my friend.Â Then she smiled, patted her on the back and told us that she had mentioned this issue of high heeled shoes at a PTA meeting, and most parents had ruled that their kids must be allowed to move with the times, and that since they wear flat-heeled sandals, and not high heeled shoes to school,Â I neednâ€™t worry.
Itâ€™s on occasions like this that they turn up in a variety of shoe types.Â Itâ€™s bad for their legs, and it aches my heart to see them courting serious problem for the future, but what can I do?Â I grin and bear it.Â I donâ€™t want to lose patronage because of it, so, I donâ€™t want to make an issue of the matter.â€
â€œFine, thatâ€™s the reason why we, who are total strangers, should be allowed to address parents on the issue.
Give us just ten minutes. Weâ€™ll not spend a second more than that.â€â€œHm!â€ sighed the schoolâ€™s proprietress, â€œlet me check with the headmistress, her deputy and the chairperson of the PTA, if itâ€™s okay.â€
The talk didnâ€™t take place, because the others didnâ€™t see the need for it.
The headmistress and the chairman of the PTA came over to thank us for wanting to talk on the subject, but said they didnâ€™t think it would be popular at all, as many parents see it as a big thing for their little girls to be in high heels, and the girls themselves clamour for them.
â€œMy sisters,â€ said the chairman of the PTA, â€œwe appreciate your concern, but most of our parents and the pupils themselves donâ€™t regard it as a problem.Â I can assure you that youâ€™ll get bored looks if you get on that stage to talk about it.
Mrs. Ovbiagele, maybe if some of the parents get to read it on your page, well, that may get them thinking.â€Â And that was that, sadly. Well, Iâ€™m sure that many parents, particularly mothers, think that it is sophisticated for little girls to wear high heeled shoes, because of what they see on television.
The interesting thing is thatÂ in most of thoseÂ western countries that we admire and try to emulate, little girls donâ€™t wear high heeled shoes, until theyâ€™re well into their teenage years, as many mothers obey experts who advise on sensible shoes for them.
Those who wear them before the age of sixteen, are probably those who have left home to live on their own and want to give the impression that they are adults; some of whom are working the streets as call girls.
Itâ€™s the film stars and those in the entertainment world there who feel the need to engage in outrageous mode of dressing to attract attention and be always in the news. Teenagers emulate them, of course.
In our country, you see girls of primary school age tottering around in high heeled shoes; particularly in churches or at parties, while their parents smile at them with pride. Those kids who donâ€™t have them then worry their mothers until they get them, so that they can fit in with their mates.
I think health experts should come out and publicly educate us on leg health and these high heeled shoes.
Let them tell us how safe they are, and for what ages.
Who knows, maybe my friend and I are fretting for nothing.Â But are we?Â We too had tottered around in high heels in our twenties, but we know now that they donâ€™t help leg health, even for adults.Â If experts agree that they are bad for our young children, then governments at all levels should act and begin serious public awareness campaigns on them and leg health.