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Well, now I can never go to Cannes.

When it was reported last month that the film festival there rejected entrance to a group of women who appeared without heels, the insult wasn't just to moviegoers, it was to me and my troubled feet.

Thankfully, an outcry ensued. Frances McDormand, the Patron Saint of Not Caring What You Think, told The Hollywood Reporter, "I think they think that flats are the road to ruin."

Emily Blunt, my new hero, said in response to 'flatgate': "We shouldn't wear high heels anymore. That's just my point of view. I prefer to wear Converse sneakers. That's very disappointing."

I am right there with her. Decades ago, when a special occasion meant I'd go to the dress department at Bloomingdale's, buy something black and then stop in the shoe department for a pair of high-heeled sandals, I remember just assuming my feet would hurt for the evening. And in the days after, I would deal with my throbbing foot hangover.

But something had been happening to me: My always-bad feet had gotten worse. Really, I had Stage 5 bunions, a corn, two hammertoes, some kind of insane thick second toenail - because that toe is unreasonably longer than the other toes - cracked heels and calluses.

When you take an aerial view of my feet, the big toe looks as if it's madly in love with the baby toe, reaching desperately to be near it. My feet are the sad little sideshows at the end of my legs. In open-toed shoes, I appear to not have a big toe.

I actually have saved in my iPhone a photo of an X-ray of my feet on which the podiatrist drew dozens of arrows pointing in the direction that my toes are supposed to be going, just in case I was under the impression that toes were supposed to look as if they were escaping your feet. Need I go on?

When I was a fresh-faced youth, I'd bring home boys to meet the family, and the first thing my brothers would ask them was, "Have you seen her feet?" They saw them as a potential deal breaker.

I remember being oddly heartbroken when Tommy Lee from Motley Crue told Howard Stern that he would not have sex with a really hot girl if she had ugly feet. I had been so close to being Mrs. Tommy Lee. Well, not that close. Approximately, two feet.

And shoe pain actually made it hard for me to walk normally (think Elaine Benes dancing all in the feet). I was once crossing Fifth Avenue and heard the screaming of an ambulance siren a few blocks south. I was in the middle of the street, and I couldn't walk faster. The buckles were so tight, I couldn't pull off the sandals to run.

photo: cocktail dresses online

My hope was that when the ambulance ran me over, it would be kind enough to come back for me later. Somehow I made it, but I vowed not to endanger the lives of New Yorkers with future invitations.

Then there came a period of time when Courtney Love deemed it acceptable to wear combat boots with gowns and tiaras, and I was still young enough to pull that off (not the tiara, alas). But that phase was short-lived. And in the years that followed, I did the best I could but never felt hip or stylish. I just hoped my sparkling personality would make up for the clunk of my sensible shoes.

I often felt victimized by footwear, in some sort of feminist way. I feel the fight to reclaim our bodies should include our feet. I'm talking to you women who cut off your pinkie toe to fit better into Manolos.

But every thousand years or so, the stars align, and what's in style actually meshes with something that works for me: empire waists, flowy hippie chic and now comfortable shoes.

This season (and the last one, for that matter) has been a gift to my tribe: The victims of the malformed feet can rejoice as comfort and couture have reached a detente.

Both Marc Jacobs and Prada designed Teva or Teva-inspired sandals that were declared a major Glamour Do. What could be better than Tevas in fashion? How about the continuing glamming up of Birkenstocks? Yes, models now embrace the shoes my dad wears on his Hobbit feet. Even Dr. Scholl's left the drugstore and were seen clomping around the lobby of the Conde Nast building.

Clearly I am not alone in rejoicing over this trend. The fashion editor and author Lucy Sykes has Birkenstocks in silver, black and white. "A first - fashion and comfort!" she told me. "Loved the look on the runway these past seasons - subversive cool. You kind of need to be a grungy, cool, bisexual European supermodel to rock the Birky. But I found a pair by Sophia Webster with a pinky, lacy pattern that are silly-cute - more Betty Draper, and I like that."

They aren't all retreads, though. On style site Net-a-Porter, there's the French brand Flamingo's Malabar sandal. Thick rubber-soled platforms with silver mirror-leathered straps, they look like chic pillows, maybe something Diane Keaton would wear in "Sleeper." Cool, futuristic, Halstonesque.

Their designer, Anne Blum-Beuzeville, said the comfort was no accident. Working as a shoe vendor for 25 years, she had a sense of what real women wanted when she created the shoe. "My mind was far from phantasm, craziness and unrealistic shoes," she said. "Women have a lot of stress during the day, with their job, their family. They don't want to forget fashion, but they want to feel good." Yes! This!

Maura Lynch, the senior beauty editor of Lucky Magazine, now refuses to wear uncomfortable shoes. "Whenever I wore high, painful shoes, I felt like I was a fashion impostor," she said. "Like I was wearing my mum's shoes."

Lynch wears "flatforms" (flat platform shoes) and even flip-flops and espadrilles she picked up in Barcelona, Spain, that are "super-comfy and super-chic." Though as a beauty person, she advises taking pains to make your feet look as good as you can before you put on the shoes: soaking them in Dr. Teal's Epsom salts and getting a really expert pedicure. (Curling yellowed toenails apparently do not work with this look.)

The manicurist Jin Soon Choi agrees. "Since these sandals have thick straps which expose the skin in blocks and provide plenty of visual contrast, the toenails should be well groomed," she said. "And women should stick with basic, single-toned polish colors - excluding neon shades - that are clean and classic, to avoid clashing with the rest of the ensemble."

Does this mean my daughter will never know the tear-inducing pain brought on by 7-inch Christian Louboutin stilettos? Nobody is making that claim. But rather than lament the inevitable return of the footwear-as-torture, my toes, nails, bunions, calluses and I are choosing to luxuriate in this foot-friendly fashion moment.

see more: graziadressau.com

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