Doctors are increasingly worried about the damage women are doing to their feet in the name of fashion.
Killer high heels have become everyday footwear and health practitioners are seeing younger and younger girls presenting symptoms such as bunions and disjointed toes as a result. Dr Brian Dunn, a Northern Ireland GP, said: “I’m sure you don’t have to suffer for fashion.”
The Belfast Telegraph took to the streets and asked women whether they were worried they may be putting themselves at risk of future injury.
Suzanne (22), a student who works at the House of Fraser in Victoria Square, said: “I usually wear them to work but my feet are too sore from wearing them last night. They just make my feet sore and working in the shop I see some people’s feet change. I notice younger women coming in with feet that have changed shape.
“But I think you do have to suffer to be fashionable. It can be exhausting but we do it for fashion. Girls have to look good.”
Shopping in heels, law student Nikki Bell (22) said: “I don’t wear them that often because they are not practical but today I thought I would make an effort.
“I wear them on nights out and just can’t wait to get them off. The problem is you just don’t look as good when your legs look stumpy and short.
“Sometimes I don’t want to wear them because I don’t want to look too tall. It can put men off. To be honest I don’t worry about what they do to my feet. I can worry about that when I’m older.”
Out in the afternoon in heels that were easily six inches high Karen Niblock (22) said: “I wear them all the time and I don’t worry about what they do to my feet. They are not that sore because I am so used to wearing them. Although, sometimes they get a bit sore.
“I always wear really high heels and I haven’t really thought about what they can do to my feet.”
Respiratory nurse Rosemary McCoubry (36) from Downpatrick looked in pain when the Belfast Telegraph spoke to her.
She said: “You asked me because I look like I’m in pain. Didn’t you?
“I normally just wear them when I’m out. I don’t usually wear them shopping but today I did. I don’t wear them for work at all.
“I have to try them on first and I tend to buy expensive shoes for comfort. I think it is the back you have to worry about more than the feet.”
'I’ve worn high heels for as long as I can remember'
Student Suzanne Crawford, 22, is surrounded by high heeled shoes thanks to her job in Belfast's Victoria Centre
When it comes to the lofty subject of high heels, my feet are firmly planted in the Victoria Beckham camp.
The Queen of Jimmy Choos knows a thing or two about stilettos.
After all, the fashion bible she published - That Extra Half An Inch - proves what us girls have known all along - that size really does matter.
Admittedly, those killer heels can give us bunions and corns and in my case, contribute to a sore lower back. And yes, that’s an official diagnosis from a hospital specialist.
He admired my high heeled boots and opaque-clad legs.
But here’s the thing - heels also elongate our legs, tone our calves and make us feel oh so sexy. Flatties just can’t compete.
I’ve worn high heels for as long as I can remember, though I have a sizeable collection of Converse trainers which I tend to wear while slobbing around.
But I would never consider dressing up for an evening out, without slipping into a pair of four, five or even six inchers. Quite literally, I walk tall when I’m in my skyscrapers.
My most recent shoe purchase got their first outing this week at the Fall For Fashion event at St George’s Market. Five inch heels, leopard print, with red Christian Louboutin-type soles - they drew lots of admiring glances and plenty of compliments too. Who cares if I had a slight case of vertigo, they looked good and as we all know, beauty is pain.
Shoes to me are the ultimate accessory and are the finishing touch to a well-groomed look. One pair of my heels threw Dolly Parton into a frenzy when I interviewed her in Dublin, while Shirley MacLaine liked a pair of my Minette platforms so much, the designer posted her out a pair to LA.
And high heels give you a certain sense of power over men as well.
Last year, I was approached by a strange male in Royal Avenue, who walked alongside me as I tried to get away.
He admired my high heeled boots and opaque-clad legs and asked if he could accompany me to wherever I was going.
That would never have happened if I’d been wearing a pair of brogues.
On second thoughts though, maybe that’s reason enough to bin the stilettos!