Heels still height of misogyny


Heather du Plessis-Allan’s says it’s time to give heels a good kicking:

. . .I hate high heels. They’re the modern version of bound feet. I can’t understand how we’ve allowed balancing on one end of a short stick to become essential formal attire for women.

Here’s a little history lesson. High heels were originally worn exclusively by men. That was yonks ago when middle-aged French men still painted on lipstick and fake beauty spots. Heels were designed for riding, because the stirrup would catch quite nicely in the groove and allow the rider to stand up and shoot his gun. They were never worn for walking about.

You should try squeezing your feet into a pair of strappy shoes that look like they’ve been constructed from an electrician’s wiring leftovers and then trying to cross a steep street. If you lean acutely to the right you should just be able to avoid tumbling the other way down the hill. . .

If you’d like to know how bad high heels are for women, watch the next one you see tottering around in them. She’ll lead with her head. She’ll lean forward just a little too much. She’ll lift her knees just a little too high. She’ll pretty much walk like a pigeon. It’s murder for the spine.

I don’t want to be born to a gender doomed to carry my body weight on the balls of my feet. I don’t want to find myself walking around barefoot on my tip-toes long after I’ve taken my shoes off because I’ve grown so used to having Barbie-feet. . . .

It’s nearly three years since I blogged on this saying heels are the height of miogyny:

Being blessed, or cursed, with a thousand acre stride I’ve never been at home in high heels.

My rule of foot is that if I can’t stand, walk and, if need be, run in a pair of shoes, I won’t wear them.

The highest heels I possess aren’t very high at all because I put comfort well ahead of fashion. . .

That post was prompted by a piece in The Age by Anne Summers:

. . . Wearing heels can be uncomfortable and make you vulnerable to tripping or sinking into wet grass; not wearing heels invites the fashion police to denounce you as frumpy.

So, few women leaders will go flat-footed; most of them – like most other women – want to be stylish. But the choices for women today are not just between heels and flats; the height of the heel is the issue, and they have never been higher.

In an era when women are supposedly economically liberated and politically empowered, it seems fashion is doing its best to subvert this. A recent report found that Australian women were the most economically empowered of 128 countries surveyed. Yet, the woman executive or company director wanting a pair of ultra-glamorous Christian Louboutin shoes with their trademark red soles would find herself obliged to totter around on 16-centimetre heels.

“It’s like foot binding – except women are doing it to themselves,” says Kirstie Clements, former editor in chief of Australian Vogue.

She says Louboutin’s original shoe, the classic Pigalle pump, “made you walk sexily, looked beautiful and were comfortable”. They had 8.5-centimetre heels. Today Louboutin’s lowest is 10 centimetres.

These shoes are uncomfortable – “they cripple you before you even leave the house,” Clements says. Models at Alexander McQueen’s 2010 spring show refused to walk down the catwalk wearing his Alien shoes after several were hurt, one requiring knee surgery.

So, if women whose job descriptions require them to don extreme outfits are refusing to wear such shoes, why are ordinary women embracing them with such enthusiasm? Why would a woman who is trying to be taken seriously as a manager, an executive, a director or a politician wear footwear that belongs in the bordello? . . .

Why? Because it’s fashion and it’s very difficult to find shoes which combine comfort and style.

That difficulty also applies to clothes.

A lot of fashion is art, designed to be hung on models who are much taller and far skinnier than the average woman.

Those who thanks to nature, or unhealthy exercise and eating regimes, don’t look like models do their best with what they’ve got and what they can find to wear but it is rare to come across clothes and shoes to match which are both comfortable and stylish.

Heels are still the height of misogyny.

But just as years of scientific evidence on the dangers of the sun hasn’t stopped most of us thinking tanned skin is more attractive, we’ve been conditioned to think legs look better when the feet attached are shod in heels – and it even works for cows.


It’s fashion week …


. . . and apropos of that I wonder again why someone hasn’t come up with a shoe design which combines style and comfort because there’s no doubt high heels really do make your legs look better.

Even if you’re a cow:


Hat tip: 2 B Sophora

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