I should start by saying that getting a pair of high heels was like going on a special expedition in search for a rare species. It was not easy to find in my size! I’m a size 13.5-14 inches in women’s and because high heels are considered only a women’s shoe, most department stores don't have in stock above size 11 since females' feet tend to be smaller than mens’. I went to many well known stores (DSW, Payless, Steve Madden, and so on) hoping they would have a wider range of sizes but to no avail. My next recommendation was to go to a sex shop in Chelsea where drag queens are known to get their high heels since they keep bigger sizes for men. I found a pair in my size but they were made so poorly that when I tried them on I was afraid I was going to break my ankle and never have a dance career again, so I left disappointed. I then went to special order shoe maker that did custom designs. First, I tried T.O.Dey Shoes in Times Square and I was told that it would cost me $700, and that was a discount! There was a long awkward pause before I responded to the guy “no thank you,“...probably because I almost fainted. Next, I went to inquire at LaDuca Shoes, a theatrical and dance footwear company.
My competitive Latin/Ballroom dance partner, Kelsey Burns, had worked there before so I thought maybe there would be hope in finding a cheaper priced heel there. She informed me that they only have in stock women’s shoes up to size 12 and if I wanted to get a size bigger in a high heel, I would have to order in an existing women’s design and custom order just the size, which would cost extra. However, if I wanted a heel higher than 3 inches (the size a shoe is considered a high heel), I would have to custom order the whole shoe and get it from the factory in Italy, which raises price to above $300. I just wanted to buy a normal, affordable pair of high heels, not a pair of Jordan’s. It seemed impossible but just when I almost gave up, a friend, Katherine, told me about a website, exotichighheels.com, that does affordable high heels in larger sizes and that, again, she was told drag queens use so they should have a size big enough for me. I had finally found a pair!
Here it is:
The fact that I had to spend such a concentrated and extended effort to find a comfortable high heel in my size is an attestment to the exclusivity of this shoe for females and how inaccessible it is to men and therefore separates our outerwear greatly by gender, not allowing full equal expression through fashion in the gender representations. But then, it seems the only men buying high heels are drag queens so why would there be a manufacturer of high heels for men? Funny how a friend of mine asked me if I was trying to become a drag queen when I told her I bought a pair of high heels. I reiterate, a man (not dressed as a woman) in high heels: a rare species.
The moment I put on the boots I felt like Cinderella having her glass slippers donned by her prince. Me and my boots were meant to be; a match made in Harlem (where I live). They were a perfect fit and thinking I would come out the womb as a calf, wobbling my way to standing, I was shocked to find that I didn’t have any struggle at all. Now, I definitely was careful and tentative with my strides at first but after walking across my kitchen to the bedroom a couple times, I was already dancing around the living room. I couldn’t help myself. I felt confident to take it to the streets and so I did.