High heels – a girl’s worst enemy?

Fashion, Feature topic — By on June 7, 2013 6:03 PM



Chew with your mouth closed, let the boys do the chasing, and never take your heels off during a night out, says many mothers to their daughters.

But if anyone’s a rule breaker, I’m guilty, and according to a recent study conducted by the UK’s College of Podiatry, so are one in four women who admit to taking their shoes off on the dance floor.

A third of women surveyed also admit to surrendering to pain inflicted by their heels and have walked home barefoot.

But with the perceived beauty and femininity of wearing high heels, so too comes the shame, as 20 per cent said they are embarrassed by their feet because of corns, bunions and calluses formed from wearing high shoes.

So it’s not surprising that a third of women have put up with uncomfortable shoes that didn’t fit because they really, really liked them.

Senior lecturer in podiatry at the University of South Australia, Dr Sara Jones, says the health problems women who wear heels often face go beyond sore feet or the odd blister.

“The main problems are musculoskeletal and affect not only the feet, but also the ankle, knee and hip joints, as well as the back,” she said.

“[In high shoes] pressure is concentrated in the ball of the foot rather than distributed over the whole surface of the sole.

“This can cause pain, swelling and discomfort and can result in stress fractures in some women.”

Dr Jones also adds that wearing high heels affects your natural posture and the position of your toes, causing unsightly health concerns such as corns and thickened toenails.

“Part of the problem with toe position in high heels is that the foot tends to slide forward with each step,” she said.

“As the toes slide forward, the end of the toes will press against the upper of the shoe.”

Despite these unpleasant deformities, why can’t women shake their high heel habit?

Is it because of Carrie Bradshaw’s glamorous Manolo Blahnik addiction or the falsity that a heeled glass slipper holds the key to finding a handsome prince, as it did for Cinderella?

To get to the bottom of this heel obsession I asked fellow heel wearers what the point of the pain is.

Daisy, 21, believes it’s “for self-confidence,” while Brooke, also 21, adds, “Sex appeal baby!”

But on the flipside, the male reaction was quite different.

“I notice them (high heels) when girls wear them to uni – because they look like a knob,” says Adam, 21.

“That context doesn’t require a girl to be wearing heels.”

“Boys don’t look at shoes,” adds Stephen, 20.

It seems these fellas might be right.

According to a study conducted by experts at Northumbria University, men cannot tell if a woman is wearing high heels when she walks.

In 2011, Time magazine reported on the study stating: “The researchers wanted to know whether the changed posture that comes from high heels – longer legs, accentuated rear and tilted torso – get noticed by men.”

“Turns out, not so much.”

So there you have it ladies, men may be too busy checking out your lovely, er, dress, meaning high heels are an unnecessary sacrifice.

But who am I kidding? Those black Miu Miu pumps that reside as my permanent screensaver – I’d develop a bunion for those any day.

Just like iconic footwear designer Christian Louboutin once said, “High heels are pleasure with pain”.

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