Whether at the store, on TV or on the feet of most women, high heels are the go to shoe for women. They come in all shapes and sizes. However they are all very difficult to walk in, and they are even harder to wear well. These shoes can cause pain and sometimes permanent damage to the wearers’ foot. Despite these negative effects, people still choose to wear them. High heels have gained their reputation throughout the years as fashion item and as a sign of power because it can boost ones confidence greatly.
In the NY Times article “Shoes That Put Women in Their Place” Elizabeth Sammelhack states,
“Heeled footwear that gave the wearer a bit of a lift, or an advantage while on a horseback, were not the original domain of women. They were first introduced into Western Fashion around the turn of the 17th century from Western Asia. Privileged men, followed by women, eagerly wore them for more than 130 years as expressions of power and prestige.” (Sammelhack 5)
As the years went by, what used to be seen as something that represented power in men no longer was, they were frowned upon as a sign of lack of masculinity due to the fact that it would highlight the lacking of something (e.g. height). Women however saw this as a way to express their pride and their liveliness. These expressions led to fears and premature assumptions that women used this to symbolize sexual behaviors as a way of power. Sammelhack agrees with this, stating “…Marilyn Monroe- alluring, playful and invariably stiletto shod- became one of the principal feminine archetypes of the period.” (Sammelhack 10). Known for her seducing ways and her iconic stilettos she is a key reason why in today’s society the idea of high heels is linked to sexual power in women. In reality most women nowadays wear the shoes because they either like the way it looks, or because they just want to use it. In my perspective high heels are like phones, they don’t necessarily need to be used all the time but we still do.
High heels are a fashion item. Honestly, how I see it is that the media, stereotypes and assumptions of the past are what created this notion that they are linked to sexual power, but in reality it is just another fashion item most women love to wear and collect.