Are you laughing at my stacks?

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The Independent Online
She pooh-poohs loafers, sneers at stilettoes ... Platforms have long been the only shoes for Anouchka Grose. But now that everyone, including the Spice Girls, is wearing them, the time has come to face her addiction. Photographs by Anouchka Grose and Patricio Forrester

I don't care if the Spice Girls' Mel B trips over in her huge platform shoes. She just hasn't worn them in yet. But I hope by the time she does I'll have consigned mine to the dustbin for ever. I'll have learned to love being a minuscule 5ft 6in again (instead of a more imposing 5ft 10in), and more important, I'll be cured.

I've really, really tried to stop wearing platforms. The back of my wardrobe is now a shelter for abandoned thin-soled shoes but there's something about having a nice, chunky slab of matter on the bottom of my foot that's really got me hooked. And I've just begun to realise that it may be detrimental to my happiness. My platforms are making me paranoid. I have to listen to the same jokes every day - the one about whether I'm a brickie (with those bricks on my feet), the one about only being 3ft tall without shoes on, and something about Naomi Campbell, which isn't exactly a joke but it seems to get a laugh anyway. I'm living a kind of shoe-fiend's Groundhog Day. Short people hate me and I can't remember the last time I ran for a bus. If I catch myself by surprise in a mirror I feel tempted to hurl an insult before I realise who I am. But other shoes aren't an option for me. Anything less than a good 3 inches underfoot and I feel like I'm being eaten up by the ground. There's something obscene about actually feeling the pavement. Flat shoes make me feel invisible.

This has to stop. I'm going to make myself better. The four main options I can see are: 1 A good therapist, 2 Cold turkey, 3 A short course in Platform Theory - if only I understood platforms better, I might not be quite so mesmerised by them (I think that is how they cure flight-phobics), 4. Shaving a millimetre off the bottoms every day until the jokes stop. (Nicorette logic).

I might as well cross out number two straight away. I've only just given up smoking, and more serious deprivation might damage my psyche permanently. I tried number one and the heartless creature took such a hard line on my poor stacks I had no choice but to protect them by never returning. ("I see," she said. "You're trying to put yourself head and shoulders above others.") Number four is even sicker than wearing the stupid things in the first place. So I guess it's number three: I'm going to understand platforms in order to break free.

I'm at the British Library (where, incidentally, Hush Puppies are semi- compulsory). I start reading a book telling me that the first people to wear platforms were ancient Greek actors. Apparently they felt that high shoes made them look more powerful and dignified. That is delusion could only have lasted until the advent of scaffolding culture - being called Frankenstein when all the other girls get wolf-whistles feels very undignified indeed. Next I learn that 16th-century Venetian women wore 30in platforms and everybody laughed at them until they started falling off and having miscarriages and getting seriously injured, at which point people stopped laughing and made the shoes illegal. This is more like it. I understand that platforms have a long history of being found stupid and can be very bad for you.

Then I remember Carmen Miranda, who never looked bad and never fell over (as far as I know) and feel more strongly than ever that platforms are good. I find a book full of pictures of very lovely film stars in platforms and have to leave the library before my plan stops working. I force myself to think hard about the Bay City Rollers to get myself back on course.

I decide to consult an expert. I call Dr Halla Beloff, a social psychologist, in the hope that she'll be able to tell me why platforms incite so much wrath. She begins by referring to platforms as the "ultimate in ridiculousness" and I realise that she can't be my friend. "Of course, girls like them because they make them feel thinner," she says. This is certainly one of the most off-putting aspects of flat-feet: low shoes equal instant fatness. Then she hints at something I find worrying - platforms make you look gullible. "The clothing industry relies on novelty to keep you shopping. Ridiculous fashion is decadent - it happens when people feel like they've done everything. Big wigs and platform shoes come into fashion at moments when the industry needs to persuade you to radically alter your appearance." So it's a confidence trick. When you put on a pair of clodhoppers in the belief that they look charming, you're falling for a cruel prank aimed at making you part with your hard-earned cash. And all those right-thinking big mouths out there are only trying to cure you of your misunderstanding. You are, in fact, a victim and need to be saved.

But something in me resists this idea; it's just too terrible. Suddenly I love my shoes more than I ever thought possible. I feel like a heroine in my ungainly footwear - me and all those other wad-shod champions of decadence. Loafers make me laugh. High heels send me into hysterics. The pressure towards "normal" footwear is part of a secret military strategy to make everyone think the same. Why can't we just live side by side, at different heights, and love each other?n

Soles about town, from left: black elevated platforms, pounds 99.90, from Buffalo, 47-49 Neal St, London WC2 (0171-379 1051). Black stripe platform flip-flops, from Boy, 10-11 Moor St, London W1 (0171-287 0911). Navy sports flip-flops, pounds 22, from Red or Dead, 1 Sloane St, London SW1 (0171-235 1335), also in navy and orange. Denim Seventies platform boots, worn by Italian tourist in Covent Garden, London. White vintage platform shoes, pounds 20, from a selection at Cornucopia, 12 Upper Tachbrook St, London SW1. Black and silver bovver boots, from pounds 34.99, from Shelleys, 124B King's Rd, London SW1 (0171-581 5537). Leopard-print super-elevated platform trainers, pounds 99.90, from Buffalo, as before, worn by Chicago-based tourist, who, having seen the Buffalo website came to England to buy a pair.

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