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The Lowdown on High Heels: Our Response

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 (istockphoto images, seen on cbsnews.com)

Do you feel pressure to wear heels at work?

In a recent newsletter, The Broadsheet's author, Kristen Bellstrom highlighted a story about a British woman that was sent home from work for refusing to relinquish her flats, “Can Your Boss Force You to Wear High Heels? Sometimes.” The article digs into the legality of forcing employees to wear high heels. In her recap, she posed a question, “Do you feel pressure to wear heels at work?” Our response is below.

High Heels Can Physically Cause Life-long Physical Problems

First of all, numerous studies have concluded high heels are seriously bad for the body - no one should be forced to wear them. Negative impact to your ankles, calves, knees, hips and back can result in life-long problems. It brings to mind images of bound feet that debilitated Chinese women in previous centuries.

The exception might be when heels are actually a necessary requirement for *performing* your job. The only function of heels is to enhance a woman's silhouette. So if an inherent part of your job is to emphasize your womanly figure, say - if you are a playboy bunny - maybe heels makes sense.

We do believe in the value of uniforms. But we don’t believe that heels should be a necessary part of most uniforms, similar to how we don’t believe flight attendants should have to wear skirts. There are equally polished alternatives in both cases!

Ev’s direct answer on heels in the workplace:

I will never work at an organization that puts pressure on me to wear heels.

When I first launched my career, I did try to wear heels often. I left college, moved to NYC, and like many other young girls–thought that heels completed the image of a successful, professional, career-oriented women. This is what is portrayed in our Media; it's in TV shows, movies, music videos, magazines, etc.  But I quickly realized that it wasn't realistic unless you've made it to a point where your salary or work benefits provide a full time driver. 

In my experience, wearing heels can limit workplace opportunities. For example, if colleagues are walking to a lunch spot further than a few blocks, someone in heels might be less likely to go for fear of not being able to go the distance. They may miss out on important team bonding. I've seen it happen.

Some people are able to walk around in heels all day - more power to them!  But personally, heels limit me, and I refuse to wear anything that feels restrictive in any way. I aim to be polished and presentable, but comfortable too. I only wear clothing and shoes that give me confidence and allow me to work efficiently. My goal is to focus on my work and performance - everything else, including cute work outfits, comes in second.


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