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Dr. Johanna Youner, DPM, FACFAS
Board-Certified Podiatric Surgeon
40 Park Avenue, Suite 5
(37 East 36th Street)
New York, N.Y. 10016
Fax: (212) 889-6150
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What Migraines? New Yorkers Defend Their High Heels
By Matt Flegenheimer
July 25, 2011 12:08 pm July 25, 2011 12:08 pm
Julia Collins removes her high heels after an interview on Madison Ave.Robert Caplin for The New York TimesJulia Collins removed her high heels after an interview on Madison Avenue.
Julia Collins does not hold a medical degree. She does not know Michele Bachmann — is he a new designer?
But Ms. Collins, a personal shopper who was interviewed while surveying the window display at the Jimmy Choo store on Madison Avenue, does know her footwear. And she may have an idea of what has been causing the Republican presidential candidate’s persistent migraines, which Ms. Bachmann has reportedly attributed to wearing high heels.
Christina Ribeiro, 27, in Rockefeller Plaza.Robert Caplin for The New York TimesChristina Ribeiro, 27, in Rockefeller Plaza.
“It hasn’t happened to me,” Ms. Collins said, looking down at her three-inch Valentinos. “But maybe she’s wearing very high heels.”
After The Daily Caller reported last week that Ms. Bachmann, a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, had identified high-heel shoes as a source of her migraines, her son Lucas, a medical resident at the University of Connecticut, confirmed to The New York Times that his mother had noticed a “correlation” between days she wears heels and days she experiences headaches.
But across New York City, the heel capital of the country, heel-wearers of all types — from the models and actresses of the meat packing district to the pump-wearing businesswomen of Wall Street — have come to the defense of their shoes.
“Flats are for quitters,” said Lauren Giordani, 26, a business developer in Midtown. “If a woman can’t wear heels, can she really run the country?”
Dr. Athanasios G. Dousmanis, a neurologist in private practice in Bronxville and assistant clinical professor at Columbia University, said he had never seen a connection between foot problems and migraine headaches. He added, however, that it was possible that neck pain associated with the wearing of heels could exacerbate existing migraines.
Dr. Johanna S. Youner, a podiatrist in Midtown, said her patients’ high heels led to broken feet, bunions, hammertoe and inflamed nerves — but no headaches.
Dr. Youner wondered why anyone would continue to wear heels if it seemed to precipitate such pain.
“Heels can make you feel empowered,” she said. “But it’s another issue if it’s detrimental to your health.”
Tierney Model, 26, a sales associate at Sotheby’s International Realty, said she had worn heels since she was 13 without any ill effects, save for “the occasional pothole injury” and that time last year when her heel became caught in a sidewalk grate in Chelsea.
Alexandra Janvier, 39, a paralegal from Flatbush, Brooklyn, suggested that heel-wearing could be a neurological boon.
“It puts you higher up,” she said, “where the air is fresher.”
Others attributed Ms. Bachmann’s headaches to diet, lack of sleep or poor posture. Alena Alexa, 24, standing aloft in orange Dolce & Gabbana heels on Fifth Avenue, cited the unimaginable stresses of a presidential campaign.
“Maybe it’s her career,” she said. “It’s not an easy path she chose.”
Some women fear the attention paid to Ms. Bachmann’s condition undermines her standing as a viable candidate in a mostly male field. In light of the migraine revelations, Tim Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor, appeared to take a swipe last week at Ms. Bachmann’s fitness to be commander in chief. (He seemed to backtrack later the same day.)
“It’s already not a level playing field,” said Maureen Brady, 21, who is working at Axa Equitable in Midtown this summer. “It gives male counterparts a reason to say you’re not tough.”
Some women empathized with Ms. Bachmann’s predicament.
Sweta Dholakin, a banker at Citibank, hustling to a client meeting Thursday afternoon in two-inch Aldo heels, said she understood the pressure to maintain a certain image, even at the expense of comfort.
“If your job requires you to look a certain way, that can be important,” she said. “It’s all about appearance.