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DEAR ABBY: I'm a single woman who works two jobs and I am constantly on my feet. Because of this I gravitate toward flat-soled shoes. I can't imagine attempting all of the stairs I must climb each day while tottering on a high pair of heels or practically falling off platforms.

I am friendly with two men (casually dating one of them) and each one has reacted negatively to my shoes. One of them said that I obviously don't want to snag a guy because of my footwear, and the other repeated an old joke that, "A lesbian is a woman in comfortable shoes."

I am a straight female who happens to feel more comfortable in flats. High heels might look nice, but they would cause me discomfort and problems during my long workdays. I have explained this to them, but they give me funny looks.

Do flat-soled shoes make you less of a woman or somehow suspect in terms of being "straight"? Does our society view women in comfortable shoes as being possibly lesbian? I find the idea ridiculous, but two different men have come to the same conclusion. I'm confused about their attitudes and would appreciate your ideas. -- STEPPING OUT IN MISSOURI

DEAR STEPPING OUT: While it may have been said that "clothes make the man" and "a lesbian is a woman in comfortable shoes," neither statement has much bearing on the truth. Women who are on their feet all day -- or night, depending upon their profession -- should not wear shoes with very high heels. Ask any podiatrist.

P.S. I suspect the two men you mentioned have a shoe fetish. Please wear what is comfortable and don't apologize for it.

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