Women and High Heels

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Today’s WSJ reports that in response to demand from women, fashion designers are making heels higher and higher, some up to 7 inches (yes, you read that correctly).   The shoes can cost up to $1500.   Some of the shoes are so unstable that models (yes, models!) were crying backstage at fashion shows because they were so nervous about wearing them. Not surprisingly, women (including models, who walk in these things for a living) fall all the time in these shoes, often breaking or spraining their ankles.   Women also report back problems and other health issues. Yet the thrust of the article is clear: many women will pay for these shoes and  want to  wear these shoes.

I know the WSJ isn’t interested in portraying women in a good light, so they didn’t interview the zillions of women who wouldn’t be caught in shoes like this.   And yes, the fashion industry is misogynist (they want to make money off women hurting themselves, literally). But still. Some of this rings true and it is depressing. The article quotes mostly professional women defending their choice to wear very high skinny heels (often to business meetings).   I know I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but I truly can’t understand this.   I mean, 5, 6, 7 inches? Why would you cripple yourself like this? Why is being unable to walk (or run) “sexy” if you are a woman? Why is putting yourself at physical risk “sexy” if you are a woman?

-Kathy Stanchi

ETA: See also this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

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0 Responses to Women and High Heels

  1. Eric says:

    Upon reading this, my inner statistics geek compelled me to do some research and calculations (too much time on my hands obviously). For a woman wearing size 8 shoes (which is about the average size for US women and corresponds to about 9.75 inches long), a 7-inch heel would leave her propped up on her tiptoes with the soles of her feet at about a 45-degree angle.


  2. One of the most depressing parts: some women “get injections of a cosmetic filler such as Restylane or Juvederm to plump up the balls of feet. These ‘pillows’ last for six to nine months.”

    One of the women interviewed explains, “There is a price to pay for beauty, and high heels is one of them.” And in her case, “back problems and a herniated disc.”

    Plastic foot pillows, an aching back, herniated disc…wow, how beautiful and sexy.

  3. Kathleen Bergin says:

    Heels are tricky. As someone who has to stretch to reach 5’2″, heels are one way I’m able to elevate my stature in the room, even if it is only by a few more inches (I think 4’s the most I could handle). Its hard enough for professional women to be taken seriously, nevermind a woman whose literally “looked down” upon by supervisors and subordinates alike because of her stature.

    Its only recently that I’ve become more comfortable wearing lower heels in the classroom, but for professional presentations or when I’m making a first impression, I admittely try to add some height. But in doing so, I’m conscious of the reality that my attempt to deflect a particular stereotype about women simultaneously reinforces it.

    Its a frustrating “no win” all around.