Goodbye Emerald Green Strappy Heels

Photo 5-01-13 8 40 35 PM

Emerald Green Strappy Shoe

Here is a joke for you all:

Q: What is the definition of self-torture?

A: A woman who has a shoe addiction, yet has also been tested and diagnosed as sensitive to chemicals!

~ aka ~  Michellina Van Loder

I’m not really that type of woman… What ‘type’? I hear you ask. Well—the type of woman who finds the gratification of buying and wearing shoes, intensely emotionally satisfying. Don’t get me wrong, I still find them satisfying on many levels. I just can’t buy them anymore, and I have nowhere to wear them. And, as you’re about to see, I now, have to wrap some of them in foil, and put these babies away until the day comes that they no-longer effect my breathing. So, yeh, I’m no longer that type of woman. Besides, can someone please tell me: what’s the point of buying shoes like these?

Emerald Green Satin Heel with Ankle Strap. Brand: Obsession

Emerald Green Satin Heel with Ankle Strap. Brand: Obsession

Or these:

UrbanSoul Leather Slingback heel

Tan Leather Slingback heel. Brand: Urban Soul

The UrbanSoul pair, I don’t have to wrap. They are made from quality leather that just happened to outgass quickly. The leather is soft, and doesn’t have that thick, waxy conditioner through it. (You know the one: it’s a bit new-expensive-shoe type stinky, and it never goes away.)

I bought these at the end of 2009, when I recovered. My daughter, her grandmother figure, and I, hit Westfield shopping centre at Highpoint. It was a great day for us all. We were like a normal three generation trio of women out for a spot of holiday shopping during the Christmas sale period. After living almost six years in isolation, avoiding chemicals, I was high on finally being able to shop, especially with my teenage daughter. (It’s only now, I can look back and see how much of a bonding experience it actually was/is/could be.) Like I said, we were just normal women out shopping. No weird stares at the woman wearing her mask, because she wasn’t wearing it! The only funny look I got was from my boyfriend’s mum, when she saw how much I paid for the shoes. I paid just under half price, they were on sale at $220. Like Mia Freedmon, I can justify my spending on the fact that I actually saved $260!!! I don’t suppose the fact that I bought two pairs helped the situation either. (Spending this much on shoes is not normal behaviour for me. But you know that saying: one good quality purchase can last for years? That’s what these babies were supposed to do.) In hindsight, I don’t regret it though. The shoes, and being able to wear them was symbolic of my freedom. The look in my boyfriends mother’s eyes made me feel bristling, young and crazy… For a day. I suppose that is the point of buying shoes like these! That, and the modulation of my emotions: shoes = happiness? These shoes did make me happy…

Yeh, I know. It was just a couple of pairs of shoes…

Now, the emerald green shoes are a ‘cheap’ pair from Payless shoes (an el’ cheapo shoe shop, here in Melbourne, Australia) and they cost $29 on sale. I bought them to go with a rather expensive emerald green silk dress that I wore when my boyfriend was invited to his first cousin’s wedding. Macedonian weddings are big affairs. The type of events where a new dress is a sub-standard requirement. Well the amazing dress needed an amazing pair of shoes to wear to this wedding, which just happened to be held at Flemington Racetrack, along with a few hundred people. And you know what? There was so much perfume there, yet it didn’t effect me. I had my mask in my handbag, yet didn’t need it. It was an amazing fun long afternoon and evening. (The last six weddings or so, I haven’t been able to attend. Even with my mask, with that much fragrance, I know I’ll get sick.)

Fast forward exactly three years, and I notice this: The ends on the heels are made from cheap rubbery plastic. You know that synthetic-petrochemical-K-mart type of rubber? All this time, I didn’t notice it until these last few months. And enough is enough. I can’t stand going into my closet anymore; I feel like I could choke on the air—especially in this hot weather we’ve been having.

The eagle has landed.

Emerald Green Shoes About to be Wrapped in Foil (for a while?)

Emerald Green Shoes About to be Wrapped in Foil (for a while?)


I’ve been sorting my shoes, and like many things to go away around here (Like me. I need to go away. I’m looking for a rental by the sea. Still!); these shoes need to go away for while too.

Along with these:

These 'Witchy' Looking Shoes, need to Get Put Away for a While too...

These ‘Witchy’ Looking Shoes, Need to be Wrapped in Foil


The witchy looking shoes (Don’t they just look like something out of Anne Rice’s Novel, The Witching Hour?), these have that stinky leather conditioner on them, and it stings my nostrils, so they must be going away on a holiday too.

So while I embrace this shoe storing, it befuddles me as to why I would want to wear any of these shoes that give me headaches and cause symptoms. So I won’t. Because I don’t want that. Yes, but why keep them? I hear you scream. A: perhaps I’ll get better and be able to wear them again at a later stage? Besides, on an epiphany level, maybe this is a step in the right direction, out of the Labyrinth of chemical sensitivities…


here’s to making changes that benefit our health!

 Update (6 Jan 13)


These shoes are kind of special to me. Kathryn down in comments said that perhaps wrapping them and storing them is paying homage to the life I once had. That had me in tears. I think the tears are, maybe, for the realisation that I’m not meant to have that life. You see, when I was first diagnosed in 2004, I threw out everything I owned. I had too. The perfume was too strong; the symptoms where too full on; and there was nowhere to store all those clothes and shoes I couldn’t wear. (Not anywhere where they would not have effected me.) So I gave them away to a charity, which needed a truck to take it all away. And I started again. I bought mostly natural material clothing, and not a lot of it. So when I recovered in 2009, I guess I went a little bit overboard with the new me, and the new shoes, and all the places I was going to wear them. So, going by that bit of information, perhaps I’m not meant for a life wearing those types of shoes? Perhaps, this is some type of journey where I’ll find out who I really am? Those shoes were a part of my identity. An identity, which is no more…

Kathryn, over at allergictomylifemybattle, had to go through a similar, if not worse, experience of throwing out all her clothes (several times) and starting again. It’s raw and it’s sad peeling of the layers of our identities in the name of detoxification, and healing, but Kathryn’s life, her journey (and soon to be released book) are all testament to the healthy living that can wait for us on the other side of this.

(My daughter turns eighteen in a week, and I’m in the final process of organising a fragrance free birthday party (which I’ll blog about later—cause it’ll be amazing if it is actually FF) where I’ll get to wear a pair of my shoes: the UrbanSoul leather ones up top—the ones I saved so much money on buying?!)


Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

About Michellina van Loder


  1. Wow, that is so crazy! Chemicals in shoes? How can we escape that?? Do all shoes have this stuff, or just the ritzy kind? While I do not have any chemical sensitivity, I have been trying to get my life as chemical free as possible as we prepare to start a family. Boy, it is not easy!

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Hi Rachel, it’s so good you are aiming to go go chemical free for the sake of your new family; I wish you the best of the best in your life’s new adventure. In answer to your question, I don’t think it’s so much the ritzy ones, but more a matter of brands and the products they use. I’ve found Merrell to be the best less toxic shoe on the market, I can wear these within a few weeks of buying and airing them. Urban Soul for ritzy shoes are good because the leather is not treated with toxic chemicals (toxic to me anyway) and the rubber/plastic on the outer sole and heels are less toxic too (I judge this by how long it takes to air out, and whether I have symptoms while breathing in near them or while wearing them. If I were you, I’d just sniff them and if they smell like petrol or awful rubber then don’t buy it?! And, lucky for us writers, we’re good at research too! (Once upon a time the designer was everything to me; now it’s the ethics of the company, and the materials used in the manufacturing process.)
      Here is a link that may interest you

  2. hi…about time i got over here.. this was a great read and made me smile tho i feel your pain. i haven’t worn true heels in years but i’ve spent a ton on shoes in that time. most i still have but each is sealed and put away-from me! i think i have instinctively known for some time that i’ve had issues with VOC’s etc. i have worn nothing but natural fibers because my skin makes me crazy if anything NOT touches it. that includes my sheets that have to be washed in basic soap nothing else added-hard to find too. i’m missing my lavender oil addition and hope i can add it back soon.

    it’s no fun living this way and i think i am tired of the inconvenience of it all and getting sick at the drop of a hat because someone else got their hair cut and i am in the room when they come home! he had to take a shower and wash all his clothes quickly in hot water with the door closed. my chest still hasn’t cleared up… i am destined to go see my doc this week as this has been a few months from hell…. and i so want to have my hair colored, etc., let alone CUT. i’ve been doing it myself, never a good idea! 😉

    take care, be well. xox

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Hi Linda, I too, smiled to read about someone else wrapping their shoes up because of the VOC’s. I’m glad you’ve only been wearing natural fibres, because that’s going to be so beneficial to your health and you. (Not to mention the peace and happiness a person feels once they are in a safe place away from the things that were making them sick.) Oooh, if you know of a good brand, please share it with us.

      As for you lavender oil, I’m with you sweetie; I too miss my rose geranium oil, and look forward to the day I can use it again.

      No, it’s not fun. Yes, and I too am tired of the inconvenience of it all, especially asking others to make accommodations for me. For visitors, I keep a box of clean clothes they can wear, and a different box for them to put there contaminated (by work chemicals/supermarket fumes/or their own products fragrances) clothing in. That way I don’t get exposed. It would be so nice to have an outside shower we could just chuck them into :)

      Be well, and I hope you have some luck at the doctors!

  3. While my shoes were not as expensive as yours, I threw about 30 pairs of shoes away that were contaminated with mold spores and mycotoxins from my workplace. It was hard watching as they were being bagged up and carted away.

    Currently I have about three pair of jogging shoes and a few pairs of summer sandals. I have no dress shoes because where would I wear them? I don’t even own a dress at the moment. We have been invited to a few outdoor events and a dress would have been nice rather than a nice pair of capris and sandals. Fortunately everyone knows my situation and are usually just glad that I am able to attend. I would love to have a simple dress that could be worn just about anywhere and be appropriate. Maybe I will try and find something this spring. The problem with these events and having nothing to wear is that I can’t just go into a store, buy the dress and then come home and put it on. Those days are long gone. Going into a store is challenge enough without having to look for labels that are not dry clean only and then coming home and washing them to death before I can wear them.

    I didn’t get to save my shoes. I wish I could have saved something just as a reminder of what life was like before. I think saving your shoes (even if you have to wrap them in foil) is paying homage to your life before. Who knows, some day you may decide to get rid of them but until then wrap them up and put them away.

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      I feel for you, and I understand that feeling of watching them being carted away. Your comment about paying homage to my old life had me in tears, so I updated the post (see above) in regards to that part of us which suffers when throwing out our stuff. You know that saying: Out with the old, in with the new! Well, that’s us. And new is what we have to look forward to. Not new shoes, but new, or renewed health!

      Capris and sandals are nice. i love capris. Nearly all my clothes I’ve bought from Ezibuy here in Australia. I found this place via other people who have sensitivities to chemicals in Australia. The good thing about this place is a person can find natural materials and nice clothes as well. And the clothes can be returned and swapped for another size (which cost $10 in postage) if they don’t fit. Another reason to buy clothes online is that they don’t have perfume or deodorant on them from other shoppers trying them on, like a ‘normal’ clothes shop’s clothing would. And they are not stored in a perfume selling shopping centre where other people who are wearing tons of the stuff visit and contaminate everything, or worst test every spray product that they can find by spraying it on themselves. (I’m hoping that people will become educated about this subject and it won’t always be like this.) Is there anywhere in the states that offers a service like this? Perhaps one wear other chemically sensitive people buy from? I’d love to know if there is one. (I want to write a post on clothes shopping for the Global MCS community.)

      I hope you can find a dress. It would be nice if you had just one, and I so understand the feeling of trying to purchase something while trying to avoid chemical exposure. It’s not a fun way to shop at all…

      Since living back in the city, and my brief recovery, I’m under immense pressure to go to family functions etc… And I just haven’t been going. Some understand, but some don’t… and that is something that’s out of my control right now.

      Thanks for you comment

  4. Why do I have so much time getting my comment to show up without it saying, page cannot be found?

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      I’d like to look into why that comment issue keeps happening. Do you mind if I forward it to the monkeys/or the StudioPress people who help manage this blog? I hope it does not keep happening. Please let me know it does; and my apologies too…

      • Of course you can forward it. It is frustrating. I have finally learned to copy my comment before hitting “post comment” in case I have to try again.

        • Michellina Van Loder says:

          I do that too. Do you use that little pulldown thingy up the top of the dashboard to reply?

  5. Amen—For many years I owned an Image consulting Company– Bruce’s Corloration Plus– that I taught basis skin care–& hair care & corrective make up– color analysis-& trends– & I did modeling– back then also– & the clothes I wore & the shoes— & all that make up——OH-MY GOSH——— no wonder I have MCS!!! :)
    That is not me– or my lifestyle any more!!!!!! Those kind of shoes don’t even interest me any more– give me some garden cloggs!!!!!!! :) hee hee Enjoy your shoes!!!! :)

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Hi Sonda, that’s a lot of make-up/fragrance chemicals right there that you would have had in your system.
      During my research, I’ve found, a person either needs a degree or to have spent a certain amount of time reading and learning the names and functions of the ingredients (which I have a hard time even spelling) before being able to work out if they may be harmful or not. Luckily, these days, we have the Environmental Working Group to do that for us.

      If you don’t mind me asking: Did you used to wear a lot of perfume? Was it everyday?

      I’ve often wondered if there is any correlation between the statistics that say MCS/Environmental Illness/ chemical sensitivities is found more so amongst the female population, and the fact that most chemical/fragrance based products (and the jobs of cleaning with them, or applying them) are targeted at the female population. I reckon that is a feminist issue right there, that main stream feminists and media are yet to pick up on!

      I’m so glad you are much happier in a pair of garden clogs. Perhaps, I should take a leaf out of your book (or garden, rather)! 😉

      • I also think that men are naturally protected with testosterone and women store chemicals in our fat.

        • Michellina Van Loder says:

          That’s interesting. I’ve dropped a few kilos lately–hope the chemicals went with it. :) :)

      • Hi — in answer to your questions— I was a licensed Cosmetologist– & certified image consultant with training — schooling & licensed to do so—BUT– that industry puts out toxic chemicals– that we use every day– that the industry says are SAFE— that are not!!!! And I used them for years!!!!!!! I was also a color expert– & did lots of hair color- BUT– No –I never ever ever wore perfume– always hated that stinking toxic crap!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Michellina Van Loder says:

          That’s good; you are lucky! I used to wear a tonne of it, and i had no idea it was toxic. Not an iota… i think i may have been addicted to it? And stupidly, i still miss the idea of wearing it: the advertisers must have had me sucked into the ‘designer dream’ real bad…

          • I think we were so busy in our rushed and hurried lives that we didn’t take the time to think what was in all that we were putting on our skin. We listened and commented on things like PCB’s in our water and worried about it but it never led us to wonder what we were personally using. We didn’t listen to our bodies if they were crying out for help. We were just too busy.


  1. like it says:

    like it

    Goodbye Emerald Green Strappy Heels

  2. […] sensitive, place them in the sun before use. Especially if they came in the box with a new pair of shoes! After airing, I chuck them up onto the top shelf of my closet, and down into the bottom corners, […]

  3. […] it’s my goal in life to be able to revel in making it once again.) (If I could choose between my love of shoes and my love of all things gardening, I’d choose […]

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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