What Migraines? New Yorkers Defend Their High Heels

Published: 2011-07-26 11:18:37

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.

“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.”