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Stiletto heels - health and safety

(73 Posts)
cassandra264 Sun 21-Mar-21 20:03:51

This issue created a lot of discussion a couple of years ago. A receptionist legally challenged her employers, who wanted to sack her for refusing to wear high stiletto heels in a job where she would be standing for most of the day. Over the years, this practice is known to cause painful foot health problems, especially later in life.

Now, following the justifiable concern over Sarah Everard's death and the safety of women generally, I feel that women,
- especially those who appear on TV and who hold down jobs where appearance is not the most important attribute - (models, singers and Strictly contestants are perhaps in a different category) should be setting a much better, more empowering - and most of all safer - example to us all of what to wear at work.

Stilettos may be fun when dressing up. I have bought them myself in the past. However, worn for most jobs, they seem to me like the 21st century equivalent of the ancient and now discredited practice of Chinese foot binding. They are designed to change the way a woman walks to make her seem more attractive to men, while making it much harder for her to escape difficult situations. Now the figures state that one in four of us has suffered harassment or assault, is it not time to question those external pressures which encourage us to present ourselves in this way? And refuse to pander to employers who say, this is the only way for our female staff to look elegant?

What do the rest of you think?

Blossoming Sun 21-Mar-21 20:11:23

I used to like wearing high heels because I’m a shorty. I can’t walk in them nowadays, I struggle sometimes walking in good supportive shoes! I agree nobody should be forced to wear them in any circumstances, least of all at work.

AmberSpyglass Sun 21-Mar-21 20:11:46

So because a man killed a woman, we shouldn’t get to wear the shoes we want in case it sets a bad example to other women? Not sure I see the logic there.

Galaxy Sun 21-Mar-21 20:22:43

That's not what she said though.

janeainsworth Sun 21-Mar-21 20:47:47

I can’t comment on the case of the woman being required to wear high heels, but as a former small employer, I did require standards of dress from my employees.
Shock horror, they were forced to wear a uniform and open-toed sandals, knee high boots, or Doc Martens were forbidden. As long as it’s made clear in the terms & conditions of employment, the employer is free to stipulate a dress code.
Similarly an employee is free to decline an offer of a job which requires her to wear high heels, or if a change to this effect is introduced during her employment, she is free to challenge it & claim constructive dismissal if it’s enforced .

What this has to do with Chinese foot-binding which was outlawed more than 100 years ago, or why women on TV should have to ‘set an example’, I have no idea. They should be free to wear high heels if they want to (provided it’s not forbidden in their employment contract).confused

Galaxy Sun 21-Mar-21 20:52:46

I think it would be an interesting legal case in terms of sex discrimination. High heels obviously cant be necessary for the job as men arent required to wear them.

Redhead56 Sun 21-Mar-21 21:00:13

When I was young I wore gorgeous patent stilettos usually with a little black dress for going out in. I wouldn’t wear them for work it was a boring office job at the Merchant Navy office by Liverpool pier head.
I was told continuously to wear a nice skirt not trousers. I never took kindly to being told what to do unless it was about my job.
I was brought up to speak up for myself so I told the boss it was a sexist attitude. Needless to say I was not kept on after my six month probationary period.

janeainsworth Sun 21-Mar-21 21:05:25

Galaxy the woman in the 2016 cause celebre was employed on a temporary contract so her employers (PWC) could sack her with impunity.

AmberSpyglass Sun 21-Mar-21 21:15:05

No one should be forced to wear them, but acting like they’re the tool of women’s oppression is a bit ridiculous.

MaizieD Sun 21-Mar-21 21:16:09

What this has to do with Chinese foot-binding which was outlawed more than 100 years ago

Chinese foot binding was crippling. Wearing stiletto heels all day long is on its way to being crippling. Not as extreme as binding, but not pleasant. Not good for over all physical health as it requires the unnatural use of muscles and affects good posture.

There seems to me to be something rather sexist about women being required to wear high heels in a job, as it can only be with the intention of them looking attractive to men. There can be lots of very good reasons for stipulating certain types of footwear in a job, but looking attractive to men is not one of them.

MaizieD Sun 21-Mar-21 21:17:15


No one should be forced to wear them, but acting like they’re the tool of women’s oppression is a bit ridiculous.

If you're forced to wear them then they are a tool of repression.

AmberSpyglass Sun 21-Mar-21 21:21:10

Yes, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with them! If the patriarchy, however it’s currently embodied, is insisting on it then the problem is with the people not the footwear.

M0nica Sun 21-Mar-21 22:07:27

Why wear them anyway? I bought 2 pairs of stilettos when I was 18 and incredibly naive and foolish and disposed of them a year later, when I reached an age of maturity and discretion and I have never worn them since.

It is quite possible to wear attractive shoes with a small heal you can walk fast and run in. This has always been my requirement for any shoes I wear.

FlexibleFriend Sun 21-Mar-21 22:22:25

I used to wear heels to work every day and have never had a problem with my feet. I have lovely feet for an old bird. I used to be able to run in them as well. I wore them from choice and would never wear them to please others and as long as women wear them from choice I really can't see a problem.

janeainsworth Sun 21-Mar-21 22:44:29

Maizie I do know that Chinese foot binding was crippling. But it was forced on female children, not adult women, and was excruciatingly painful. Once the binding was done, it was never removed.
I think a comparison of a barbaric practice carried out in Imperial China and which was banned after the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, with the wearing of stiletto heels in a modern Western Democracy is rather far-fetched. Instances of employees being threatened with dismissal for not wearing high heels are extremely rare.
A more apt comparison would be the wearing of whale-bone corsets to achieve an hour-glass figure in Victorian times.
Thankfully we have moved on from those particular expectations.

MaizieD Sun 21-Mar-21 22:54:44

I do know what foot binding involved, janeainsworth.

I don't think there is any justification at all for high heeled shoes, specifically stilettos (as specified in the OP) to be a required part of a dress code.

Shandy57 Sun 21-Mar-21 23:03:25

Your post title has reminded me of an incident in our self catering unit years ago - the young couple had left, and my daughter came in to help me make the bed.

We noticed lots of holes in the wooden flooring on either side of the bed, and one in the wall (!) and I realised 'someone' had been wearing stilettoes! We started making the bed and there was a lump in the middle and I said oh dear they've left their socks - nope, pair of rolled down dirty pants and pyjama bottoms! Ha ha, you have to laugh or you'd cry!

GrandmaKT Sun 21-Mar-21 23:14:44

Yes! Thank-you for raising this subject cassandra. Why women persist in wearing ridiculous, unsuitable, painful footwear is beyond me! Maybe I have unusual feet, or a low pain threshold, but over the years I have bought shoes with high heels and/or pointy toes and I have never lasted more than a day in them.
Every year I am shouting at the TV when The Apprentice is screened. Here are supposedly intelligent, entrepreneurial women who literally talk the talk but can't walk the walk! They might as well be shackled as they stumble in and out of taxis and attempt to run in and around the streets of London, putting themselves at a disadvantage to the male contestants.
I was glad to see Kamala Harris wearing trainers with a smart suit recently.

BlueSky Mon 22-Mar-21 08:58:20

I agree GrandmaKT!
What I find strange is that I would say most women on tv or newspapers, seem to wear those impossibly high heels, because the other women do! Why would they feel they have to? Do they feel they are losing out to the stilettò wearers? And surely no employer can stipulate that nowadays!

Elusivebutterfly Mon 22-Mar-21 09:08:41

I've never worn stiletto heels and always thought of them as belonging to the early 60s along with beehive hairdos. They are fashionable again now and I think they are ugly. A medium heel is elegant but stilettos are awful.
I don't know how people walk in them and do feel there is an expectation, wrongly, for women to wear them in certain positions such as TV presenters and younger royals.

anna7 Mon 22-Mar-21 09:15:40

Young women wear high heels because they look better with many outfits and because they can. I remember wearing heels when I was young and I didn't find them uncomfortable at all. I could dance all night in them and walk and run. I certainly can't wear them now although I have no problems with my feet.

Perhaps the women on TV or newspapers wear them as a sign of youth or just because they like them. Obviously nobody should be forced to wear anything.

GrannyGravy13 Mon 22-Mar-21 09:59:33

I am 5’2” and love my heels, whether they be shoes, sandals or boots. I also have many pairs of flats/mid height heels.

I get really cross when women are told what they should or shouldn’t wear!!

If applying for a job and wearing heels is in the job description, that’s another thing entirely.

4allweknow Mon 22-Mar-21 10:35:52

It's on a par with Bristol banning strip clubs. Why do females work in those places in the first place. If females don't want to be oggled at by males don't entice them.

WishIwasyounger Mon 22-Mar-21 10:35:57

Being a shorty, I used to love wearing heels when I was young. I wore them all day at work, and for dancing in the evening. Would I wear them now, no way, but I can relate to young people doing the same as me. Their choice.

cookiemonster66 Mon 22-Mar-21 10:42:52

a guy once said to me, "I love high heels" I said "well you wear them then!" if guys realised how agonising they are to wear they would not expect us to wear them to look sexy 'for THEM'! I however do not look 'sexy' with a grimace, as I grit my teeth in agony, why are all the so called sexy gear so uncomfortable for women eg corsets, heels, yet men can look complete slobs and be comfy! so unfair!