Wednesday, February 22, 2006

High heels: the wonder bra of the feet?

In recent times feminists have shown disdain at the return of stiletto heels to high fashion. The general feeling is liberated woman should not dress specifically for the lecherous desires of men and their pleasure. A clear reference to the importance our society still places on stereo typical codes of behaviour and the psycho-sexual role of footwear.

Havelock Ellis, an English psychologist, pointed out ‘of all the forms of erotic symbolism, the most frequent is that which idolises the foot and shoe'.

The invention of the stiletto is attributed to Roger Vivier after World War II. He discovered if you inserted a thin piece of flat metal into the arch of the shoe then shoes could be made slimmer with higher heels than had been made possible before this. By the 1960's the stiletto heel had become a real fashion icon and was the shoe of the decade.

The word stiletto is Italian for knife with a narrow blade which was much favoured by renaissance assassins. Wearing high heels does cause alteration to the centre of body mass. The cleavage and posterior protrude by as much as 25% when wearing the fashion high heeled pump. Buttoms become more pert and rounder and the alteration to body soft tissue is considered as a conscious attempt at auto eroticism.

Prolonged wearing of high heeled shoes can result in stress on the limbs, central back and knees. Which is of course typical of nature but many ladies admit it is very difficult not to be female in high heels and totally impossible to be anti feminist?

The great difference of today’s pedestal wearers is choice and the ability to step on and off at will. This is so nineties. Bjork, no stranger when it comes to be outspoken on feminism says “the cage has been open and what you’ve got to do walk out of it." In high heels or low it matters not a jot. Staggerers are exceptionally high heeled shoes. In order to balance the forward thrust of the foot, the back curves, the breasts jut forward, the buttocks hike up. High heels force the foot to arch into an accentuated curve which is a microcosm of the female form.

Height gives power and curvature accentuates femininity, or so the experts would have us believe. Marilyn Monroe was nothing if not pragmatic “I do not know who invented the high heel" she said' “but all women owe him a lot... It was the high heel that gave the big lift to my career." This was certainly true in her case because the lady in question had her shoes made with one heel higher than the other in order to increase her hip swinging actions.

The style of footwear was so closely linked to sex in the 1950’s a common rhythm of the time was

" The girl with low and sensible heels
Is likely to pay for her bed and meals."

Stilettos have an enduring appeal and have popped up in every decade since the 50's. In the advent of today's power dresser, stilettos have joined the tailored suites and shoulder pads as symbols of female assertiveness.

The modern style has lost much of it tackiness and instead has new wit, extravagance and glamour more in tune with emancipated women. Stilettos are the metaphoric representation of the "wonder bra of the feet" and a post feminist statement that is an overt display of womankind and proud of it. Of course men have always the advantage and are never shy to criticise the species with foreboding warnings of the ills of wearing staggers. But none so overt as the English law which stated:

"Any women whether virgins maids, or widows who shall impose upon, seduce, or betray into matrimony any of his Majesty's subjects, by virtue of high heels. ...the marriage will be null and void."

Reviewed 28/11/2016

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