A resource blog for young women living with Arthritis

Goodbye high-heels/How to feel confident while wearing grandma shoes when you’re not a grandma (or even if you are)


[Disclaimer: Grandmas are beautiful and strong women who often give us strength. This post is not intended to offend anyone who is a grandmother. ;)]

Hi everyone! Today I’m discussing a topic which is often a source of frustration for young women who are growing up with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis:

High-heels. Whenever I turn on the television I’m flooded with images of women modelling infinite variations of sky-high heels. When I go out to parties it seems that every young woman is decked out in the latest high-heeled style. When I was growing up, even my Barbie doll’s ankles were permanently bent at an angle so she could wear heels. In our society we tend to associate high-heels with sexiness, womanhood and overall female va-va voom, right?

heelsWhen you have Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, however, wearing high heels is sometimes a painful and physically impossible feat (pun intended ;)), as you might have swollen, painful joints which may be damaged or even fused. So how do women (especially young women) feel when they can’t participate in a trend which has become such an integral part of being a woman in our western culture?

As a teen I loved my heels, as painful as they were on my JRA-affected ankles and knees. Wearing heels made me feel good about myself… and also helped me from drowning in crowds of people, as I am not very tall! 🙂 However, by the age of 25 one of my ankles had become so damaged and fused that walking in heels became physically impossible (and painful), so I was forced to say goodbye to my heels. Fashion has had to take a backseat as I now wear flat shoes with lots of support. Sensible shoes have taken the place of fancy strappy heels. I know that when I dress up with flats, my look doesn’t quite have that va-va voom effect that my friends have with their high heels. But it’s okay. I might not have heels to give me that va-va voom effect, so I try to get my va-va voom from the inside. 😉 While they may not be “sexy” to many persons, I am determined to rock my comfy grandma shoes and my grandpa-style loafers. Do you think we can start a new RA-friendly shoe trend, ladies?

I still think heels make a woman look sexy, but now I think that sexiness – true sexiness – comes from the inside, from your personality and who you are. It comes from your confidence as a woman, which in turn comes from how much you love yourself. And unlike heels, that inner sexiness and confidence stays with you always, even when your shoes are off.

My dear beautiful ladies, if you can’t wear heels:

1. Love yourself! Learn to love everything about your unique self. Whether you can wear heels or not should not impact how you feel about yourself on the inside. With or without heels you are still a beautiful woman who has a lot to offer this world – make sure you remember that! Think about the qualities you like about yourself and realize how amazing you are. 😉

2. Do activities you enjoy, such as sports, art, cooking, singing, learning a new language, playing an instrument etc. – whatever makes you happy, go for it. Doing activities we love helps us to feel happier and more confident in our abilities.

3. Realize your skills, strength and unique personality and get your confidence from that. You might not have the confidence booster of wearing heels, but you can show off your beautiful personality and unique talents instead.

4. Rock those grandma shoes! Whatever shoes you’re wearing, wear them confidently. So what if every young woman is wearing heels and towering over you as you showcase your comfortable grandpa-loafers? Be confident in yourself and give those comfy shoes the love they deserve by showing them off proudly!

5. Find cute flat shoes. If you can’t wear heels, that doesn’t mean you can’t look cute and polished. Try looking for comfortable flat boots, ballet flats, loafers or sandals. I found some great fashion tips for ladies who are unable to wear heels in this article from About.com. There are actually many pretty shoes which you can wear if your ankles are weak, although it might take some effort to find them. Check out BarkingDogShoes.com which reviews comfortable shoes for problematic feet. If you find cute flats which don’t offer enough support, try adding insoles for extra comfort. Kiran from The Life of a Porcelain Doll shares some very useful shoe tips for young ladies with JRA in this article.

I know that many young women who have Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis struggle between being fashionable and being in pain due to JRA-affected ankles, knees and hips. Remember that shoe styles may come and go, but your personality will always be in. So make sure you show it off. 😉

Readers, feel free to share your shoe stories or recommendations in the comments below!


Until next time,

Take care of those feet ladies! 🙂

Ms. Rainbow


[Image by pixabay.com]

15 thoughts on “Goodbye high-heels/How to feel confident while wearing grandma shoes when you’re not a grandma (or even if you are)

  1. Great topic. I’ve never been able to wear heals because my ankles were so damaged and fused too since I was just a little older than a toddler. Once never been able to wear shoes with even a slight arch to them. I now found a liking to knee high, flat boots with a full zipper because without a zipper, my ankles don’t bend enough to get them on. But now I have new fancy shoe inserts that require me to wear bigger shoes so the insert fits so I had to get mends shoes and they make my feet look huge. I hate them but since my ankles collapsed, my surgeon wants me to wear these as often as possible to hold off on surgery. It makes me insecure because the only thing I can wear with the inserts are giant sneakers. And getting a divorce, I want to look good to feel better. When I can wear my boots, I love it but the clown shoes are ridiculous! Thanks for bringing this up. Now I know I’m not alone with this problem. 🙂

  2. Hi Julie! Thanks for the comment – you certainly aren’t alone! Fused ankles sure make things interesting. I hope the inserts do help your feet. Try the link I posted: barkingdogshoes.com. They have so many reviews of shoes, hopefully you will find something you like to fit your particular foot situation. Boots sound great though! And if you love them, even better! 🙂

    • I love the boots!! Unfortunately no matter the size, the inserts don’t fit. They are too high, thick, wide, etc so Dr said big sneakers. :/ I’ll check out that site though! Thanks!

  3. I love this article, I really miss heels, I own one pair and they have been worn exactly once (although I am breaking them out for prom even if I will pay for it). I love this blog, it addresses so many issues I struggle with that my friends don’t quite understand.

    • Aw thank you for the kind words, Joan! Have a great time at prom and try adding some soft insoles to make your high-heels less painful, they helped me a lot in the past. Take care! 🙂

  4. So I’m commenting on an old post, I know. But I loved this one and can relate to feeling short, I’m only 5’2! 🙂 I got RA at 16, exactly around the time I started liking heels. I still see cute high heels in stores and get kinda sad that I can’t wear them, but I make up for it by finding shoes that I CAN wear and that still make me feel awesome. For me, this is flat boots for winter, sandals in the summer (with enough support), cute flats, and Converse. Converse are my favorite, I would have 30 different colors if I could afford it. lol!

    • I’m the same way. I’ve never been amble to wear heels since having JRA since one. My ankles haven’t bent at all since i can remember so when i got married, was a bridesmaid, went to proms and homecomings, etc. i always got upset cause i couldn’t find cute shoes to wear so i went to flats but with long dresses wound up switching to flip flops. I just finally got into tall boots and became a little obsessed. It’s hot in Florida and i still wear boots with skinny jeans our cotton leggings. My mom keeps saying it’s not winter! But I’m getting a divorce and found shoes that i feel good in so whatever! 🙂 I’m supposed to wear huge inserts that only fit in large sneakers and i hate them so I’m wearing the boots till i decide to start wearing the inserts. 🙂 i like converse too but haven’t found any that are supportive enough. I like Adidas shell toed. It matches my “alternative” style and are comfy.

      • Julie, glad to hear you have found shoes you feel good in! 🙂 You deserve to feel great! Are both of your ankles completely fused from JRA? Also, are orthopaedic boots with custom orthotics out of the question? I had some growing up and they didn’t look too bad actually, they looked like regular boots – but on the inside there were orthotics molded to my feet. Since you are loving boots right now, maybe you can think about them. 🙂

      • Wow! I never heard of that but I’ll be asking my surgeon when i see him next! Thanks for telling me!

      • Oh and yes. Both ankles are fused like that. In a few years I’m just going to have them fused surgically with metal so at least there’s no pain.

  5. Hey Arianna! Thank you so much! And you can comment on whichever old posts you like, I’m glad they’re being read. 🙂 Thanks for your great suggestions for all of us who can’t wear heels! I agree, Converse shoes are cute too. 🙂

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