Footwear Follies (Guest Post)

Footwear Follies

A couple of weeks ago a receptionist in London England was sent home for refusing to wear heels on the job. She asked if a man would be expected to do the same shift in heels and was laughed at.

Footwear Follies

In Canada there have been similar stories of women being told that wearing heels is a requirement of their work. Usually those stories are from restaurants and bars.

I asked my friend Karen about that high heels in bars and restaurants. Before she started her own graphic design company, Karen worked in the hospitality industry.

“It’s a liability”, Karen said.

Pure and simple, you’re liable as a business owner for any spillage and/or damage to your employee’s health if you insist your female employees wear high heels.

Tender Tootsies

What kind of damage does long term wearing high heels do to you? Besides the obvious foot damage (corns, bunions, swelling), high heels warp your ankles, knees, hips and your lower back. The Spine Institute in Florida has detailed blog on the damage heels due to your body here.

The damage makes it difficult to walk and run, even when not wearing heels. Hard to stay fit if you can’t do two of the most basic, accessible forms of exercise.

I get these walking statistics from my Microsoft Band. The average woman in my age range walks around 5,100 steps a day. I average close to 11,000 steps a day (or around 5 miles). I’m lucky I have my own business in technology where wearing running shoes at work is considered acceptable.

I wonder if that 5,100 step average is due to women having tender tootsies from high heeled shoes.

5,100 steps is not that much. I know I can do almost 3,000 steps just cleaning up my tiny apartment.

Well Heeled

So why force women to wear high heels at work? Physically it makes women’s legs look more slender and pushes out the buttocks and breasts. It’s sexual. And it’s in the workplace.

My feminist doctrine coupled with my Scots Presbyterian family background makes me go nuts over this. I just want to scream where is the difference between forcing women to wear high heels and Chinese foot binding?

Heel Thyself

My friend Karen likes wearing heels at work. She’s one of that group of women who enjoy wearing heels. Wearing high heels makes her feel powerful.

But it’s her choice. And she says she would never wear high heels at work if she felt compelled to do so.

Foot Fitting

Recently I got fitted for a new pair of orthotics (the curse of high arches). I asked the pedorthist (that’s what they call the foot fitting specialist) how’s business. She said they’d been getting a lot more business from folks who damaged their feet running in those flat, practically no sole shoes. Even running has its own stupid fashions.

I asked her why they don’t make dress shoes that are good for your feet? She thought the materials would be too heavy to make something elegant.

I’m not sure about that. I wonder what would happen if consumers, women, really pushed the shoe manufacturers for better shoes.

There is another possibility. At the Consumer Electronics Show in 2015, one of the hits were 3D printed shoes. How long it will take to combine individual 3D orthotic scans with 3D printing to create custom shoes that fit and look good?

The technology for better shoes will probably outpace business attitudes about women’s footwear.