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November 22, 2015

The Secret of the Well-heeled

Text by Sitanshi Talati-Parikh. Illustration by Farzana Cooper

What is that nifty accessory that has elevated itself to become a statement and potentially a modern-day aphrodisiac?

At a recent night out at a tony watering hole, I watch a bevy of chic women walk in, well accessorised, and all flaunting pedometers. A flashy Bulgari or Rolex on one hand, a trim little step-measuring device on the other. (Or if you have gone the way of the Apple Watch, then you have it all rolled into one.) A girl in our group, who has an enviable flat stomach and perfect figure post motherhood, comments on the number of wrists that speak of step counting that are stepping in, one after another. I admit that I have succumbed too (albeit not seriously): deciding to use the Fitbit (housed in a hot teal strap) as an analytics tool to gauge whether the walk to my kitchen counter, to pick up that bag of chips, and the walk back to my desk, to eat them as I type, suffices in the number of steps it would take me to lead a ‘healthy’ existence.

Today our sedentary lifestyle gives us cause for concern, to the extent that we flaunt our desire to appear ‘fit’ and ‘healthy’ as a conscious choice, where earlier these nifty little devices stayed tucked away from observation and social comment. It may have become the status symbol of the elite to pair the Louboutins with the pedometer, to suggest that they are walking miles…albeit in the best shoes. The tennis bracelet of yore has been merrily replaced with a bracelet that suggests you play tennis…or at least circle the court in search of a well-matched partner. After all, the pheras or the long walk down the aisle add to that perfect score.

In a city rife with a killer competitive instinct, women are not only squabbling for attention over the trimmest outfit and the trimmest figure, but how many steps it took them to achieve the look. It’s also about getting there — it implies hard work, toil and possibly a bead of sweat that normally wouldn’t affect high society’s perfect ringlets of perfectly coloured hair. It also demonstrates a desire to shout it out to the world — because the bit about being fit is the new champagne night ‘cool’.

It suggests that they are actually working — working towards keeping the arteries less clogged, keeping the calves well toned, and there is a sexiness that is associated with a workout. Can a man really resist a woman who cares enough about her body to flaunt a pedometer? It can imply that she is willing to actually eat a ‘cheat’ meal, because she knows she plans to work it off later. Will he be able to stop imagining the woman in her fitness gear, working up a sweat and an appetite? Has the pedometer achieved an exalted status as a modern-day aphrodisiac, demanding that two perfectly toned bodies that care about their health regimes get together in perfect unison? With the pedometer as the only accessory in bed, to later evaluate (over cozy pillow talk) how well rested — or sweetly disturbed — the night was.

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