Up On The Catwalk

One of the prompts from Cricket’s Slice Of Life this week is  a moment of failure.


Here’s my tale of woe – 



It was the stilettoes that did it. Led to my moment of failure. Bubblegum pink tools of the devil.


During my Senior Year of High School the Design class decided to put on a fashion show to raise money for charity. My friend Jules asked me if I would model one of her outfits. I was flattered to be asked, I mean, what 17-year old girl doesn’t dream of a girlie modeling moment? So I agreed.


But a few days before the show I began to get cold feet. Actually, my feet were more numb than cold because my circulation had gone haywire from walking in those damn stilettoes. They pinched at the toes, they rubbed the ankles raw and walking in them was as easy as balancing on a tightrope after consuming half a bottle of vodka.


Yes, it is true, I have never been able to walk in heels.

This is me in stilettoes:

shuffle shuffle stagger

shuffle shuffle teeter

shuffle shuffle fall over (usually with my skirt halfway up my back, thank God

                                           I always wear sensibe underwear)


Some of the people I admire most in this world can work it in stilettoes. My friend, Mel is one. She sashays in those 6 inch heels like she is walking on air. My Mum is another. She can dance the foxtrot in them. I have heard that Sarah Jessica Parker can run a couple of kms through the streets of Manhattan in her Manolo Blahniks. Modern marvels all.


But me, well, that’s a different story. I can stand in them. Truth be told I look quite good in them. As a gay friend of mine once said to me : ‘They do make your calves look rather shapely.’ Until he saw me attempt to move forward in them. ‘But for Pete’s sake, don’t walk in them.’


Jules made a very trendy, 1980s style dress a´la Vivienne Westwood. It was blue and pink with a yellow tartan sash, a white bodice and shoulder pads. It looked good, trouble was Jules had left finishing the dress until the last minute and stitched me into it. It was extremely fitted. I looked like an extra in a Spandau Ballet video. Walking was difficult in the dress even without the stilettoes.


Somehow –  I think I was transported there by some unseen force, maybe the spirit of fashion – I made it on to the catwalk. The music started blaring – Human League, I think – and someone pushed me forward. Told me to strut my stuff. I tried, I really did. I imagined how Elle Macpherson would do it or Linda Evangelista. I even had the pose down pat where you pause at the end of the catwalk with your hand on your hip and pout at the audience. But it wasn’t meant to be.


Ever felt like you were going to fall before you actually did? Ever known that no matter what you do your ass is going to hit the ground? You brace yourself for the point of impact, for the deafening ring of humiliation in your ears, hoping for a miracle. But, alas, miracles and modeling just don’t mix.


I managed to walk ten steps. The ten wobbliest, yet proudest steps of my life. For ten steps I owned that catwalk. I was working it, baby.


And then it all went horribly wrong. I lost my balance. Stepping forward into nothing, knees buckling, ankles bending, falling, falling, falling, flat on my face.


There was a gasp, a collective quiver. I swore, I moaned, I wished I could sink into the floor. My time as a model was over before it had begun. My moment of failure was stark. And then a friend in the audience began to laugh, winked at me, and I began to giggle.  Jumping to my feet, I  held the offending stilettoes aloft and finished my strut down the catwalk, complete with pouty pose. There was a resounding cheer, a round of applause and the show went on as normal.


I’ll never forget my initial humiliation and the sense of failure I felt as I was falling. But I’ll also never forget how a wink from a friend restored my sense of humour and allowed me to press forward. I guess what it means is that sometimes even when you think you are failing, you are actually succeeding – at making the best of a situation. And that is just as important as being able to walk a straight line in stiletto shoes.

17 thoughts on “Up On The Catwalk

  1. Oh Selma…I would have done exactly the same thing. I can walk reasonably well in high heels, in fact, in my 20’s I wouldn’t have been seen dead in anything less than 3 inches. Nowadays though, well let’s just say I’m out of practice and leave it at that. I would have totally cracked up on the runway if I’d fallen flat on my face.


  2. Oh Selma, I felt your pain as you hit the boards. But I also felt that wonderful moment of triumph as you got up and took charge of the incident with head held high. Bravo!!!!

    PS: I am 5’9″ and for many years, at least 3″ heels were the order of the day. God knows how but I walked like the wind in these shoes of destruction. They are incredibly bad for a woman’s back and when you really think about it, are they really that attractive? Now when I look at women teetering around wearing really, really high heels, I just think they look silly. Sort of a restraining type of footwear and no wonder they are referred to as f…me shoes LOL!!! I dunno, I think there are a lot easier ways to look sexy. 😉


  3. “thank God I always wear sensible underwear”

    Selma, I think this is a great story, and although I feel your pain, this line had me rolling. No really, it did! 😀


  4. According to my wife and daughter, it takes practice.

    According to them, you start at the age of about 14, with low-ish heels, and gradually increase their height. Generally, you’d wear them about a third of the time, and change to comfortable shoes in the meantime.

    But, both say they couldn’t wear them these days, because neither has worn them for some time … my wife, because she thinks she’s grown out of them, and my daughter, because she’s 5’11” … and a nurse, who wears clogs most of the time.


  5. I don’t get the high heel thing. I mean, aren’t guys the ones that are supposed to be as tall as possible? I guess it’s true what they say – you’ve got to suffer for fashion.


  6. I say, better an extra in a Spandau Ballet video than a booty-shakin’ backup musician in a Robert Palmer one. Although, that could be fun too, now that I thought about it.


  7. That is funny! (sorry to laugh at your expense) But that was a classic tale!!

    (I am one of those people who can run a 10 K in 7 inch heels, but that has to do with my ‘former training’)


  8. Oh, falling down… You did the right thing by taking off those shoes and showing the world what you’re really made of: beauty, humor, and absolute grace under pressure.

    I have ankles of rubber, so I live in flats. The last time I wore heels, I sprained my ankle and had to be on crutches for weeks.

    It’s a good thing LOTM is the same height I am, so I have another fine reason to stay low.


  9. GYPSY – it was hilarious. Initially, I was peeved because I was in ‘top model’ mode but then I had to laugh. What else was there to do? And Iam famous for being Queen of the Klutzes.

    BRITT – many have tried. Many have failed. I dream of walking into a room, all elegant and willowy in my Manolos, moving like a dancer, but sadly, the reality is I would be able to stand in them for about 3 secs. LOL.

    GERALDINE – you must have looked like some gorgeous Amazon striding around in your heels. I can imagine people stopping and gasping and saying:’Who was that?’ Fantastic!

    LINDA – anything higher than an inch looks ridiculous on me. If I wear anything higher someone always says – ‘Have you been drinking?’ Even if it’s 9AM! Ha ha.

    TEXASBLU – sensible underwear is very important. I swear by it. 😉

    CRICKET – at least I didn’t rip the dress. Much more embarrassing!

    TRAVELRAT – that is definitely the way to do it. I can see I’ve left it too late!

    RWHACKMAN – oh yeah, fashion is all about suffering. Some younger guys I know are getting their chests waxed now. YOW. The things we do.

    CHRIS – it’s funny, I always wanted to be in that ‘Addicted To Love’ video. I think it was the red lipstick and the guitar riff that did it!

    MELEAH – you can run 10K in 7 inch heels? You are now more of an idol to me than you were before. It’s official!

    KAREN – I can’t believe you sprained your ankle. That sounds so like me. Oh, to be elegant and steady on my feet!


  10. Try kitten-heels, Selma. The point of balance of the heel is slightly further forward than stilettos and it makes a phenomenal difference in the stability of the shoe. I used to wear “court” shoes in my early office days, until I sprained my ankle (wearing flat shoes – but it was raining and slippery). That ankle was weakened and I lost the ankle strength that you need to keep the teetering of court shoes balanced. One day I tried really high kitten heels just for a laugh and realised I could walk perfectly in them, just like the old days. Oh, and on walking – heel first, then toe. I once taught a teen how to walk in heels and she kept wanting to go toe first.


  11. I can relate to your story, I can never walk in stilettos either. One of the great things about goth glamour is that you can wear big boots with your glamourous lacy/velvety/satin dresses, that suits me!


  12. DAOINE – a writer, an artist and able to walk in heels? I bow before you. Heel first, then toe. Does it matter if you throw in a face first every now and then?

    CRAFTY GREEN – and that is why Goth attire rules. I have black lace-up boots with very chunky heels which I never fall over in. Even though the chunky heels are high I feel steady in them. Odd, isn’t it?


  13. I used to wear the stilletos and had no problem with them. Then I got a neuroma (an enlargement on a nerve that causes GREAT PAIN) in my left foot. I gave them up forever – anything more than 1 1/2″ brings back all the pain and suffering I left behind. I think the heels probably caused (or at least contributed) to the neuroma. Sigh


  14. ADAMSWIFE – ooooh, a neuroma sounds awful. You poor thing. I hope it doesn’t bother you in flats. So nice to hear from you!


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