from the pages of March 1995


Six-inch Heels

By Lydia Sargent


They say that mothers are to blame for what's wrong with this world. And it's true, they are. I'm not talking here about Welfare Mothers. They are to blame but they aren't really mothers. They are parasites and immoral sluts, with no IQs and low protein intake. This, as we know from Gingrich and others, makes them powerful enough to wreck the economy and disrupt society. I'm not sure how, exactly, but Newt says so and that's good enough for me. Put those Welfare Mothers in jail, their kids in an orphanage. What was good enough for the England of Charles Dickens (1800s) is good enough for me.

I'm talking here about your true-blue, all-American Mother Gal, with the intelligence and taste to know what's what, i.e., that gals are inferior decorations for the sole purpose of bearing a man's offspring and seeing that his shirts are laundered, hold the starch, please. I'm talking about your normal Mother Gal who can pass the aforementioned knowledge on to her daughters, while taking the blame for everything, including bad weather, plague, and scum on the kitchen counters.

Since I read all the gals' magazines, I am often reminded of my failings, but never more than one evening last month. It had been an okay day. The gals had gathered at the Satire Hotel for lunch and our weekly discussion of that deep and penetrating analysis of sexual harassment, Disclosure. I'm talking about the book, not the movie. We had seen the movie, of course, but Michael Douglas was such a whiner that we found ourselves curiously rooting for Demi, accent on the “i.” The book deals, as you probably know, with that rampant social problem: Executive Gals Who Sexually Harass Their Male Underlings. The book falls short of saying what happens to be the truth of the matter: that the mere presence of gals in the workplace constitutes sexual harassment since it causes men to have erections, thereby interfering with their ability to do what they do best, i.e., lie, cheat, steal, even kill in the best interest of that beautiful system of ours -- capitalist democracy for a few good men. But the book does go a long way toward shutting gals up on the harassment issue.

In the evening, the gals and I watched the Miss Universe pageant, a must see for all gals. We kept score, as all gals do. There's nothing like a mass judging (on a numerical scale) of a gal's every pore, fat cell, and hair follicle to keep all gals on course toward being obsessive, psychotic pieces of doo doo. Neither of us guessed the winner. The Miss America pageant is much easier. You know the winner is going to be from Texas or Tennessee. But I digress.

I called my daughter to see if she'd guessed the Miss Universe winner. She hadn't even watched it. She'd been watching a “Dateline” program about these gal pilots who had been trained as part of the space program in the 50s and 60s. Apparently, these gals tested better than the men on many of the tests, and had more flight hours (they had to fly in high heels, thank goodness) than John Glenn, but were kept from going into space because “They had no experience flying jets.” The reason: they weren't allowed to fly jets. Chimps, of course, had jet flying time and were being contemplated for space travel at that time.

I was impressed with this story and our entire space program for realizing that gals, no matter whether they are smarter or do better, still aren't smarter or better, and, either way, they must wear high heels while they're doing it. Daughter thanked me for this wisdom, and said she, too, was impressed with the ability of these gals to log 2,000 flight hours in crinolines and high heels. She, then, caught me up on the happenings on “Melrose Place,” a must show for all younger gals living on their own in the big city. Then it struck me. I realized I was to blame for that worst of all social problems: Mothers Whose Daughters are 30 and Unmarried. Aaaagh. And living alone. In the big city. With a job that pays enough for her to live on.

Where had I gone wrong? Why wasn't my daughter the subservient, decorative piece of doo doo I raised her to be?

I can tell you, Gals, I went back over all the things I had taught my daughter as she was growing up. At birth, I had whisked the pink clothes, so that relatives and total strangers would know to gurgle and goo incessantly over her looks, her hair, her coloring, her fat cells, and her eyelashes. Had she been a boy, a smack on the head would have sufficed.

When she got older, I taught her the three essential gal activities: cooking, playing with paper dolls, and decorating match book covers.

I made sure to update her on the latest scientific proof that gals and guys have different genes and brain sizes, thereby limiting gals to the color pink and to crying incessantly, but having no detrimental consequences for guys whatsoever. Happily, these scientific gender determinisms are back in the news, as in, all gals are inferior; most white guys are gods.

I bought her the latest in makeup essentials including the tapered brush, the slant eye brush, the brow gel, the smoky kohl pencil, and the eyelash comb, so some guy would marry her for her imaginary face.

I bought her the latest underwire push up bra, recommended by Mrs. Mick Jagger, so she could trick some guy into marrying her for her imaginary cleavage.

Still, she remains 30 and unhitched. Well, I couldn't figure it out. Neither could the other gals. We were at the Hotel for our regular reading of that deeply important gal rag -- the February issue of Vogue. We had read all about Kathryn Harrison and how she used to scar herself with a razor blade, and were up to the latest craze -- really, really high heels. Vogue had an interesting spread on this -- photos of gals in their heels having to use wheel chairs, or wear leg braces, or be carried by guys, or use crutches to get around. The photographer, Helmut Newton, on the one hand, said the idea behind his photos was that “women who wear such extremely high heels will soon be immobilized and consequently will need help, human or mechanical, to get around; on the other hand, he also said, “When I see a woman, I always look immediately at her shoes -- and hope they're high, because high heels make a woman look sexy and dangerous.” In one of Helmut's photos, the gal's right leg had been removed and was standing next to her. Thank you Helmut. What can be more of a turn on than the image of a dismembered gal?

I called my daughter to share this information. While dialing, I flipped further through Vogue, somewhat absent-mindedly, and then I saw it. And I knew. My daughter was a mess, i.e., not an appendage, because of that other huge social problem (no, it's not unemployment or the lack of fulfilling lives): Daughters of Mothers Who Are Dazzling. It seems that, with all the many things mothers are to blame for, being too beautiful, and therefore a burden to their daughters, is something we should concern ourselves with in a major way, evan as we continue to beautify ourselves.

Well, my daughter's line was busy because she was trying to call me. When we finally made contact, she agreed that I, her mother, was a burden to her because I turned heads. But,” she screamed, “what I really blame you for is not telling me about these great, really really high heels. And why didn't you tell me about these new six-inch heels? I had to hear about them on PBS, for chrissakes.”

We talked it out and got a total psychiatric overhaul for me and a pair of six-inch heels for the daughter. I also got her a podiatrist, and showed her some exercises to deal with calf cramps, posture problems, and corns and calluses. We both felt that since she can't really get around very well, she's bound to catch a husband. I'm already planning the wedding, something in lime green and peach. The bride and bridesmaids will, of course, be carried down the aisle. I prefer to scootch down on my tush, six-inch heels dragging after me..

Everything is back to normal at the Hotel. The gals and I are getting ready for the upcoming Academy Awards show. Although, can it be as good as last year's, really? I don't think you can top a best actress who is voluntarily mute throughout the movie; or a best supporting actress who is 9-years-old, and responsible for getting her moms finger cut off, in the movie. (The mom, of course, was to blame for this.)

Meanwhile, we caught Ricki Lake's popular afternoon talk show, and we learned all about that other serious social problem: Gals Whose Mothers Dress Like Sluts. The slut-moms were all wearing what must have been six-inch heels. I'm not sure what that means, but no matter. They say Mothers are to blame for what's wrong. And it's true. They are.

Thanks to Andrea Sargent and Maureen Kelley for the information used in this column.