KENTVILLE – People’s eyebrows were raised nearly as high as the heels men wore walking around Kentville’s downtown area Sept. 9.
The street was their runway as the men strutted their stuff in an attempt to walk the entire mile around Kentville.
It’s an event that draws plenty of attention, which is exactly the point, according to Chrysalis House executive director Ginger MacPhee, who recalled her disbelief when her doctor detailed his son feeling “scared to approach a woman, and like he was under constant pressure,” because of the #MeToo movement.
“That is only a quick little snippet of the stories I hear. But as men, [other men] will listen to your feedback faster than they will mine.”
This is why the event’s motto is to “walk the walk, then talk the talk,” and encourages men who participate to address verbal or physical violence against women in its tracks whenever they encounter it.
The event was run in support of the Chrysalis House Association, a shelter service which offers refuge and support services to women and children from Windsor to Annapolis Royal.
Town crier Lloyd Smith, himself clad in a more classic Victorian-era shoe, proclaimed it a gathering of “big hearts, and big feet, for a big cause.”
“Today, men will put pride aside and will walk a mile in her shoes,” he cried.
And then, they were off. Smith led the way, bell in hand, as the men started walking, some wincing almost immediately.
Bystanders – nearly all women – laughed and clapped from the sidewalks and offered tips like, “straighten up” or “heel to toe” to the men, who were struggling.
Caleb Howden, a two-time participant at the event, compared the shoes to ones he wears while rock climbing.
“It’s the crammed toes – it’s very uncomfortable, and a similar feeling,” he said.
New Minas Rotary Club president Mark Vardy said he could not believe how uncomfortable the shoes were, even before he began walking in them.
“If this is really what we think is the epitome of female fashion, there is clearly something wrong – I don’t know how anyone walks in these for any length of time,” he said.
Kentville mayor Sandra Snow stood comfortable in her running shoes and addressed the crowd as the men shifted from heel to heel.
“These shoes are to remind you that women carry a burden, and today, you get to walk and feel what that burden feels like,” said Snow.