The fabulous, 27 year-old Nicola Thorp last year managed to overturn a rule requiring her to wear high-heels for her job as a receptionist, and today, after gathering 150,000 signatures on a petition to ban sexist dress rules, she’s inspired a parliamentary report recommending strong sanctions against companies trying to enforce these. Most of us can relate to her desire not to strap thin spikes to the bottom of her feet and hobble around in them all day, but it raises the question, why on earth do so many women actually voluntarily wear these things to work?
It could be that women simply want to be attractive. High heels lengthen legs and give us a sexier posture, and research shows that men are more likely to notice and be helpful towards women wearing heels rather than flats. This could be a result of women in stilettos being perceived as more sexually available and men are hoping for some payback. Alternatively, the ability to wear high heels might be an honest indicator of biological quality; only fit, healthy people who are good at balancing can wear these contraptions without risk of serious injury.
Possibly more likely though, is that high heels are all about female competition and status. Think of the message your colleague is giving out as she elegantly struts her stuff in a sharp suit and a pair of £1000, 7” Louboutins without going over on her ankle*. Respect.
* This won’t work if you’re a monkey keeper, or a firefighter, or really anything where you actually have to walk places.
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