Is experiencing pain for a fashion statement worth it?

September 24, 2021 — by Lena Aribi
Dr. Martens have been a big hit in the shoe industry, but are their shoes comfortable to wear?

Fashion has changed dramatically this past year. Accessories that were previously worn only on special occasions, like concerts and photoshoots, have turned into daily-wear. Small pieces ranging from chunky rings to Prada handbags have taken over people’s shopping lists. Bold footwear, from Birkenstock sandals to Nike Air Force 1 to “old man sneakers” to Yeezy Slides, have become a big hit in the shoe industry. 

The latest in shoe trends has been Dr. Martens, or “Docs” for short: the ultimate grungy shoes. Dr. Martens are famous for being durable and timeless. Teens have begun pairing these shoes with any of their outfits, no matter how “extra” or casual. 

A few months ago, I was scrolling through my Pinterest feed and saw a picture of a teenage girl walking around New York in a white graphic cropped tee, a belted black skirt, leather bike jacket and Dr. Marten ankle boots. Immediately, I fell head over heels in love with the shoes. I purchased one of the most popular options of Dr. Martens: the Adon Smooth Leather Platform Boots, for $180.

When they arrived at my doorstep, I tore open the package, eager to finally see my Docs first-hand. As soon as I removed all the packaging, I shoved my feet into the shoes and walked to the mirror to see how they looked. They were just as I imagined them to be — captivating and freshly polished — and I couldn’t wait to wear them out. 

The first time I wore my Docs out of the house, I spent about two hours walking around downtown Los Gatos in them. 

It was the worst experience ever. 

Typically, when you first purchase a pair of shoes, you wear them around the house to break them in. With Docs, it should be the same thing, right? 

Well, not necessarily. Due to the Docs’ 1.5-inch platform, it became a lot harder to break the shoe in. In fact,  the structure of the shoe didn’t allow me to break it in at all — the material is stiff and thick, making movement difficult. 

By the time I returned home, it felt like the back of my heels were about to peel off. When I finally got home and eased off my Docs, I discovered an extensive red area with a blister about one-and-a-half centimeters wide above the back of each heel. 

I couldn’t wear any shoes for the next three days without experiencing terrible pain. In fact, I stayed home for two of the three days before eventually getting dragged out of the house by my mom to go grocery shopping. I slipped on flip flops, careful not to put too much pressure on my heels or hit my blister on the shopping cart. 

Even once the blisters started to fade, I avoided the Docs for another month, concerned that I might re-injure myself and fall into the same cycle of nursing blisters at home. 

When I worked up the courage to wear them again, I applied special bandages to avoid blisters. However, within an hour of my walk, the backs of my feet started to ache again. When I got home, it was the same as the last time: blisters and redness. 

I had spent weeks of stomping through the house in the Docs; I couldn’t understand why they still hadn’t broken in. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Pinterest-esque pictures that I can take with these shoes, but are they worth all the excruciating pain and annoyance? 

My answer would be no. Not being able to wear shoes for three days after getting the blisters was a loathsome time. It was a major inconvenience to stay home and avoid walking. And I definitely didn’t enjoy wincing every time my blisters came in contact with something. 

Still, I’m not going to throw out my Doc Martens. Every few days, I’ll pull them out, stomp around the house with them or do anything I can to get them more adjusted to my foot shape. 

Maybe one day I’ll be able to wear my Docs comfortably, but until then, they’ll be sitting in my closet rather than on my feet. I’d rather spare myself the hassle of suiting up with band-aids just for a cute outfit.


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