Erica P. Johnson
To bring scientific concepts into the mainstream, sometimes explaining popular culture helps. Inspired by TV's
Applying Pythagoras' Theorem, he found that the maximum heel height (h, in cm) is h = Q(12 + 3s/8), where s is the UK shoe size and Q is a sociological factor between 0 and 1. Stevenson says he added Q, at his wife's urging, because shoe selection reflects more than physics, such as cost and fashion, not to mention how much one drinks. A sober Carrie can wear a 12.54-cm heel. Jane Andersen, of the American Podiatry Medical Association, says that higher heels exact more pressure on the ball of the foot than do flat shoes. This increased pressure, plus the unsteadiness these shoes cause, can lead to problems such as shortening of the Achilles tendon, ankle strains, and fractures.
But Stevenson expects women to continue shopping sans calculator: "Most women are much better able to just look at a pair of shoes and tell if they could walk in them without falling over." As to why these shoes appeal to women, George Malkemus, a Manolo Blahnik spokesman, says simply, "It's all about fashion."
- Caryn Evilia