High heels make me supremely uncomfortable. It's not just the constant feeling that they might slip out from under me and earn me a trip to urgent care for a sprained ankle. There's also all the uncomfortable things they represent: the idea that they're supposed to be the epitome of feminine sexuality, the idea that if I don't wear them, I'm either not a "real" woman or I'm terrified of my sexuality, the idea that it's part of this hazy concept of the collective feminine that I'm somehow locked out of if I don't take part, the idea that I need something that I feel looks like a badly made medieval torture device to be beautiful, appealing, or sexy, the idea that if I refuse to partake in this aspect of fashion, I'm denying my femininity, and that there's something very wrong with that. 
Not wearing heels is my way of saying "screw all that." I decide what it means to be me, and if that doesn't include putting spikes on my feet to fit someone else's definition of attractive, then so be it. If other people don't like it, then too bad.
There's only one problem.
I'm an actress. I want to play a variety of characters. Not all of them wear ballet flats and mismatched stockings. Not all of them are quirky, nerdy misfits. Not all of them like turning footwear fashion rebellion into an art form. Some of them fit the very definition of sexy that I find ridiculous and want to rebel against, but maybe they're part of an interesting story or they get to say some really funny lines, so I still want a shot at playing them.
I'm auditioning for such a character this week. I asked a friend to lend me a pair of heels, because I figured it was just for one audition and if I were to buy a pair, I'd go about it with all the finesse of a teenage girl picking up tampons at the store for the first time, just to spend money on something I'll wear for a grand total of 45 minutes. She brought them over last night, and she and another friend were trying to show me how to walk in them.
I was pleasantly surprised when I didn't injury myself like I had believed I would. I also didn't get this surge of powerful, sexy, alpha femaleness that fashion bloggers say these shoes are supposed to give. It was more like trying something from a foreign culture just to say I'd tried it or because that culture saw it as an etiquette requirement, but knowing it would never have the same significance to me as it did to the people whose culture produced it. 
I tried a walk around my apartment.
"You look like John Wayne," one friend informed me. "You kind of have that swagger." 
Ok. Can I play a cross dressing cowboy, then? Is anyone making that kind of movie?
"Swing your hips more," my other friend advised. 
I tried it. It felt exaggerated, even though my friends didn't seem to think it was. I apparently kept switching back into John Wayne mode.
I can probably count the number of westerns I've seen on one hand, and I don't think any of those starred John Wayne. But my sexy walk looks like his swagger, according to my friends.
Maybe I should find a gender bending cowboy movie to act in. Or, maybe I should just stick to characters whose version of sexy doesn't unintentionally leave people wondering when I'll be back in the saddle again.
Either way, the fact of the matter is, I'm auditioning for someone who is more different from me than any character I've ever auditioned for, and I'll probably look like John Wayne doing it, but it'll be an interesting experience.
I hope I break a leg.
Figuratively, not literally.