The Patriot Ledger

Why do we torture ourselves so
for fashion?

By Loretta LaRoche

I just came back from New York, where I did a lot of window shopping. The mannequins were decked out in the latest and greatest shoes and clothing.

What struck me the most was the differences between male and female fashion. Every female model had on shoes that would make a needle look fat. The heels on most of the footwear were so high that you could be at risk of falling off them and killing yourself. The pants, slacks and tops were so narrow that a toddler would have a problem trying to fit into them.

In contrast, the menswear was loose and casual. The shoes were mostly sneakers. The overall effect was one of comfort and ease.

I realize that there are stores that have zeroed in on how women want to feel in their clothes, and I shop exclusively at those stores. However, the impression that women are given in the media and in print is that a youthful appearance is achieved with tight clothing and heels from hell.

I've read many reports on how seductive legs can look in slender stilettos. I've seen the catalogs filled with bras that enhance, push up and bring together breasts so that they can look high and perky. I've gone through racks of underwear and wondered who or what could fit their butt into them. They reminded me of panties I put on my Betsy Wetsy doll when I was a kid.

During the years, we have gotten a great deal of information on how the right shoe can help our feet, back and joints. I know many women who took their sneakers to work and put them on to do errands on their lunch hour or after work. The concern of how they looked seemed to be less important than how they felt. If fact, I thought we had gotten beyond thinking that fashhion, no matter how painful, was the ideal.

Well, I think the new generation of women has been decidedly influenced by "Sex and the City." Looking sexy and scintillating is now much more important than considering the fact that you will probably have twisted feet when you're old.

The men just keep rolling along. They may embrace new, funky clothing, but never at the expense of feeling pain.

I don't think we'll ever hear a man exclaim to another man, "I can't wait to get my clothes off so I can relax." Unless they have an ulterior motive!

Men just won't put up with clothing that tortures them.

Maybe I'm just jealous. Or I may be getting to sound more and more like my mother. She wore little oxford shoes as she got older. I would often point out that they made her look dowdy. Her comment was always the same: "Better dowdy than crippled."

I never thought I'd agree with her, but it's just one more thing she's turned out to be right about.

Author, hummorist, PBS star and Fortune 500 trainer Loretta LaRoche lives in Plymouth. To share your pet peeves, questions or comments, write to The Humor Potential, 50 Court St., Plymouth 02360, send E-mail to, visit the web site at, or call toll-free 800-99-TADAH (82324).

Copyright 2005 The Patriot Ledger
Published Monday, May 16, 2005