Be they shoes, smoke, implants or clean windows
In June, The New York Times reported about a movement in Japan by women who want a law prohibiting dress codes that mandate high heels at work.
“A 1921 effort in Utah was even more drastic,” the Times wrote. “A bill would have criminalized the possession of high heels, punishable by up to $500 for a first offense and up to $1,000 for subsequent offenses, along with possible imprisonment” for possession of any shoe with a heel longer than 1.5 inches. This limit was set because even in 1921, Utah’s legislature was primarily a cowboy caucus, I presume, and that was the extent of a cowboy boot’s heel. But the male version is, after all, the original version—high heels are first known to have been worn in the 10th century by men in the Persian Calvary; the heels helped keep their feet in the stirrups.
The proposed bill was the result of a campaign by osteopaths—doctors who focus on the musculoskeletal system, taking into account how environmental and lifestyle factors impact health. The penalty would be per pair of shoes, with imprisonment of 30 days to one year.
Needless to say, the bill did not pass. However, that is not to say the bill was without merit. Muscles in the feet connect to calf muscles, which connect to hamstrings, which connect to the pelvis and low back. The shoe pulls it all askew, while pitching one’s center of gravity forward. Sounds like a recipe for trouble, sooner or later.
I used to have…I forget how many pairs of cowboy boots, in various colors and heights. It was all I wore on my feet. Then Feldenkrais practitioner Dan Schmidt pointed out what even that one-inch heel (to say nothing of the toe crowding) was doing to my entire body, pitching it this way and that. I stopped immediately, and eventually divested myself of them all, never looking back.
The things we do (or have done—probably in younger and more passionate but less discriminating years) for the look of it. In this issue, there’s Nicole DeVaney’s tell-all tale of fake breasts—why she got them, and what happened (good and bad) as a result. Then there’s Sophie Silverstone’s piece about a nonprofit started by a local bar owner to care for fellow bar service industry members experiencing health issues. It’s a tough line of work to be healthy in—late hours that screw up sleep patterns, maybe more alcohol than average, often smoking.
Today’s scene is a world away, however, from Utah nightlife prior to the stroke of midnight, 2008, when smoking in bars suddenly ceased, thanks to the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act. In the decades prior, how much second-hand smoke was inhaled by patrons, but especially workers who breathed it night after night—and in years before Utah started taking its air quality problem seriously?
I remember going to the Zephyr, God rest its musical soul, one eerie February night, when the roads were thick with acrid yellow smog—and I, queen of good health who could easily dance all night, felt myself soon gasping for air.
Utahns’ focus on air quality has begun to pay off as we find more and more ways to reduce PM2.5 pollution. Yet, mysteriously, another pollutant, ozone, is increasing in Utah. In this issue, Ashley Miller tells us this one is more challenging to fix, because the bulk of it, just like cigarette smoke in a bar, is second-hand, drifting here from other states and even other countries. Much of it, whether domestic or foreign, is from coal-fired power plants.
Today, after 33 years of home ownership, for the very first time, I hired a professional window-washer. Looking at the results of Scott Urtel’s efforts, I must admit I thought of Nicole DeVaney when she tried on her first double-D lace bra after breast augmentation surgery. Standing in front of my big pink house, I stared in amazement at the transformation, as she did at her reflection in the mirror. “I had no idea…!” I said.
If eyes are the windows of a house, my house, which is also the CATALYST office, has just emerged from a long, groggy sleep. It has become alert, vital, inviting. Something to see through, not look at. I guess clean windows really do have something in common with breast implants—in the case of windows, they lift up the soul.
Greta Belanger is the editor and founder of