Bellydancing In Stilettos

There’re no hard, fast rules about what type of footwear must be worn for bellydancing. However, the fact that bellydancing is thousands of years old tells us that originally dancers did not wear high heels. The oldest depictions of bellydancers show dancers in bare feet or sandals and in fact, many modern day bellydancers (myself included) prefer to bellydance this way. Dancing with bare feet is natural and comfortable and is the healthiest for your body. When it’s not practical to bellydance bare footed, sandals or low-heeled shoes are the next best things.

Some times belly dance students are surprised and somewhat confused when they see a bellydancer performing in sky-high heels, or when they see photos of models in belly dancing costumes wearing tall stilettos. They can tell that it’s not a comfortable way to dance and isn’t based on tradition. While stilettos may look ‘sexy’, they can take a tremendous toll on your body. Here are some of the conditions that wearing high heels can cause: foot deformities (hammertoes, corns, calluses, “pump bump”), back problems, knee osteoarthritis (a painful, degenerative joint disease), ankle sprains and breaks, pain in the ball of the foot (metatarsalgia), and nerves tumors between the toes (neuromas). How sexy is that?!

I tend to look at the excessive wearing of very high heels as a modern version of Chinese foot binding. Because of the discomfort, pain and damage stilettos can do to the body, the only reason most women wear them is that they’ve been conditioned to see high heels as ‘sexy’. There’s nothing wrong with being sexy, but there’s a time and place for everything. So maybe for the occasional party, nightclub, or bedroom love fest, stilettos can be fun. At least in the bedroom, if they have the desired effect they won’t stay on your feet very long!

For bellydancing, your costume choices are yours to make. But if you recognize that a healthy body is what’s truly sexy, then you may want to ditch the stilettos. I imagine that someday in a more enlightened future, people will look at the fashions of today and wonder why women chose to totter around on the balls of their feet with sticks under their heels. I don’t want to be one of the women they shake their heads in bewilderment at. Especially when I’m bellydancing, I like to have my feet flat on the ground.

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