Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Monday, 5 November 2007

High heels

I have added a poll at the right-hand side - High heels: Empowering for women or the contemporary equivalent of Chinese foot-binding?

Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below in support of your beliefs.


George S said...

Empowering? Depends on what - or on whom - they are standing.

Anonymous said...

Neither. First, we can't forget that high heels were originally the purvey of men. Second, women are not forced by society (in America, today) to wear high heels. I've worked with and partied with plenty of ladies who only wear flats. Third, they restrict movement and balance. So they're neither empowering nor horrible. They're the equivalent of men's Regency cravats: absolutely ridiculous, but all part of the time period.

Eamonn said...

an attractive woman, all else being equal, is more attractive with high heels than flats. On the other hand, my mate Diego the podologist says that women with problems caused by high heels are paying his mortgage

Anonymous said...

it was the Chinese aristocrats who performed the lotus foot-binding on their young women. Though the Japanese incorperated many of the Chinese's technical advances into their culture, the foot binding custom was thankfully not one of them.

Meg the Florida Bargain Queen said...


Because choice is empowering.

I like that I can choose to be 4" taller -- or not. I like that I can change my look. I like that I can instantly look slimmer. I even get a kick out of being taller than my husband when I want.

Personally, I think we women are lucky. Men have fewer choices and as a result they tend to end up looking alike when they dress up.

Melancholizxx said...

hey linda,

as a slight correction, it was the chinese who had the foot binding culture until the 1940s,not the japanese. an interesting fact: foot binding was the chinese version of a fashion statement of that time. it was thought that the culture came about because an emperor of past dynasty had a fetish for concubines with naturally dainty feet. it was supposedly more feminine and graceful due to the small mincing steps one had to take. :) my late grandmother had them. :)

back to this issue of high heels, definitely empowerment for me. it is up to the individual's choice rather than an imposed culture. personally, i prefer flats for everyday wear but when i want to feel real feminine, it's the 4 inch heels for me. it helps if you have a boyfriend that is at least 4 inches taller than you as well. :D

Linda Grant said...

Thanks, it was a slip of my fingers or my mind, Chinese indeed

Dana said...

Cravats weren't painful or restricting, were they?

mq, cb said...

Dana, Regency cravats were definitely restricting. In the most extravagant styles a gentleman would not be able to turn his head because his collar points were so high and the knot of the cravat itself was so complex. Isn't it amazing what you can recall from a teenage Georgette Heyer obssession? There, all possible entitlement to sophistication and taste are hereby disclaimed.

Notwithstanding my clear lack of cool, I initally decided that high heels were not empowering because even though I wear (and indeed am wearing) three inch heels, I don't see why my clothes empower me. Surely, I empower me? That said, I think that Meg makes a good point; choice, and the freedom to make one, is empowering.

What I really don't like about the current fashion is that it is so extreme and, quite frankly, vulgar. Look at Mrs Beckham teeter-tottering on her 5 inch platform heels! Does your heart sing when you see her shoes? Are they things of beauty? For the most part, no. She looks like she's engaging in some extreme sport. Your shoes should make you feel that your feet are beautiful. Look at what Rupert Sanderson had to say on the subject in The Daily Telegraph on 10 June 2007.

Meg the Florida Bargain Queen said...

Yeah, I can't imagine 5" heels. 4" is enough for me -- and then, only on special occasions or when I don't have to walk very far. I'm also a big fan of ballet flats, which I wear pretty much the rest of the time.

I'm tired of the extreme pendulum swings of fashion, too. While it's not altogether new, it seems like its worse every season. Many designers and celebrities are obsessed with pushing the envelope for the sake of being new and different. Give me flattering clothes in classic styles over that any day!

Dana said...

Thanks for the cravat story! I had no idea...I guess it's like those metal collars some African tribe wears?

I'm afraid the scales have fallen from my eyes. I can look at high heels as art, as sculpture, but when they're on someone's foot, all I can think is, honey, the pain is never worth it. And in my closet, they're no longer beautiful to me. They're gone.

Why don't men (today) have to wear things that are painful in order to be considered well-dressed?