Monday, June 14, 2010

Are government funded high-heel lessons necessary?

"Sexy Heels In The City" is a government-funded class at South Thames College in England. The class claims to prepare women “for the business world and their social lives.” It was taught by a back-up singer who claims that not being taught how to walk in high heels caused her misery. She also believes the high number of female shoe-related injuries justifies the class (Telegraph, 2010).  

This class makes two interesting claims-- that wearing heels is culturally important, and that it is how you wear shoes that causes problems.

As previously discussed, no physiological need to wear shoes has been found. Instead, shoes may actually have weakened feet. This suggests that the reason for wearing shoes may be cultural, a way to express individuality. If women need high heels to succeed in business and socially, than in this case, shoes no longer are expressing individuality.  

Yet, in business, high heels are often associated with female empowerment. For example, Networking in High Heels, is a networking group that helps women network and succeed in their careers. “Hell on High Heels” was a business boot camp event for women, held to help women succeed in business (Vitt, 2010). Thus, high heels seem to be a necessary part of business.

Despite the connection, not all women or companies support high heels at work. In her blog post, “High on Heels: How Shoes Affect the Juggle” Jamie Heller (2008) discussed the difficulties she faces in deciding what shoes to wear to work. She feel that heels were only appropriate when she knows she will only be doing minimal walking. Although some women have more tolerance for wearing heels, and perhaps this can be taught, most women can walk more in comfortable flats or sneakers than 3-inch pumps. Thus, girls may be able to learn more important skills than how to walk in heels, especially during an extensive six-week period.

According to research done by Alyssa B. Dufour, women who wore supportive shoes early in life greatly reduced the amount of foot pain they experienced (Rabin, 2009). Thus, it seems that the type of shoe determines the ill-effect of shoes, not how you walk in them.

Overall, while wearing heels may have some affect on business, there seems to be little reason to justify the use of government money. During the six-week length of the class, the girls could learn more important skills, such as how to network, which will truly help them succeed.

Heller, J. (2008). High on heels: How shoes affect the juggle. The Wall Street Journal. 14, 2010 from
Rabin, R.C. (2009). High heels and pumps now, foot pain later. New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2010 from
Telegraph. (2010). Students taught to walk in heels. Retrieved June 14, 2010 from
Vitt, K. (2010). Hell on high heels business boot camp for women. the neat sheet. Retrieved June 14, 2010 from

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