At a towering 5'2", I have become an expert at a couple things: Finding someone to help me reach things on a high shelf. Knowing, to the penny, what it will cost to have a new pair of pants hemmed before I buy them. Walking long distances in impossibly high heels.
For the most part, being vertically challenged doesn't bother me. I never have to pay for the extra legroom when I fly. I can shop in the junior's section at department stores. And I kind of enjoy stilettos — wearing them is like getting an all-day calf workout without going to the gym.
Granted, they have their downsides too. Mostly pain. But for this particular column, it's important to focus on their benefits. Because it's a recruitment effort of sorts to get the men of Park City to don a pair of heels for a great cause this Sunday.
"We're thrilled to be hosting the first Walk A Mile In Her Shoes event ever held in Park City," notes Jane Patten, executive director of The Peace House, a nonprofit domestic violence shelter. "Violence against women is such a serious matter, it can be difficult to raise the awareness needed without depressing everyone. That's why we're putting on this event, to bring a little levity to a very serious discussion."
As part of the event, men will be marching up Main Street in some fancy footwear and are encouraged to top off the look with a costume. They can even walk with their dog, bringing a whole new desire for 'well-heeled' status.
"We're certainly encouraging the men participating to practice walking in the high heels before Sunday," Jane added. "And if you're bringing your dog, we hope it heels well on a leash, for your sake!"
Walk A Mile In Her Shoes will begin at City Park on Sunday, Sept. 22nd, at 10am. The group will walk up the Poison Creek Trail and onto Main Street through the Silly Market, finishing at the Wasatch Brew Pub. For added fun, a "Blister Sister" or "Sole Brother" will be assigned to each participant. Their job is to provide encouragement, carry the walker's street shoes for changing into after the walk and of course, help anyone who gets a little tripped up and loses his balance.
And, while watching about one hundred men tilting and tumbling up Main Street makes for some great entertainment, the reason this is a boys-only event is pensive.
"Violence against women isn't just a women's issue. Every man has a woman in his life he cares about: A mother, sister, wife, girlfriend or daughter. We want men to be an advocate for this cause, so they can be assured there are programs available to help keep the women they love safe. Men play an equal part in the solution and having men involved in this cause changes the possibilities and the outcomes," Jane noted.
Park City resident Scott Johnson has already registered for the walk, and while he's a bit nervous about the shoes, he's committed to the cause.
"When I told my mother I was going to do this, she said, 'Good luck. You're never going to make it!' And I might not! I have no idea how women wear these things. But I'm happy to help raise awareness and a little money for the Peace House," Scott said.
The money raised from the event goes directly to the Peace House programs, which include outreach, counseling, assistance with protective orders, and temporary shelter, for the victims of violence in a home.
"We offer shelter for about 150 women and children each year, but our services go far beyond that," Jane said. "You don't have to be at the point of needing shelter to need our services. We put a lot of effort into early intervention and prevention before reaching the crisis point. We help women identify red flags in relationships, help them get out of abusive relationships in a safe way, offer educational programs in schools for children to understand what abuse looks like and teach them internet safety. We also work with Friends of Animals, so pets have a safe place to stay while a woman seeks shelter and is in transition. That's one of the biggest reasons a woman won't leave a dangerous situation, she's afraid of what will happen to her pet if she leaves. This program has been a fabulous addition to what we can offer."
But for this Sunday, the Peace House is focused on offering a few laughs, at the expense of a few well-intentioned, well-heeled, and considerably taller than normal, men. To learn more about the Peace House, sign up for the event, or volunteer at it, visit: www.PeaceHouse.org.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.