High Heels: A symbol of gender discrimination


by Kristel Liakou

 

You may already know that what we wear gives credit to who we are. In capitalist societies, branding is the most important thing when it comes to communication. Apparel is something like a “badge of origin” -represents who we are. Additionally, high-heeled shoes symbolize specific ideas, and as far as we know they have always indicated discrimination.

 

Let’s take it from the Baroque Period, at the 1600s, when aristocratic men used to wear heels, to stand out from the crowd. It is obvious that from the very beginning, these kind of shoes were a symbol of prejudice. Then, the aristocratic women followed the fashion of wearing heels, with the distinctive feature of “skinny heels” -the ancestors of today’s “stilettos”.

high heels, gender discrimination
Shot by Anna Tea | Models: Louis Flothmann, Rebecca Sigfridsson

 

With hopes of getting rich and aristocrats themselves, lower-class people started to wear high heels too. Fashions typically filter down from elite, reminding us a lot of ourselves who always want to look like a million bucks, even though we have no money to pay our rent. You see? Fashion does make circles.

 

As heels became popular to the masses, aristocrats lost their interest in heels. They stopped wearing them. In the same fashion, everyone stopped wearing them. After all, it wasn’t a practical trend -who would have thought.

 

High heels made a come-back in the mid-nineteenth century, under pornography circumstances. Actually, during WWII stiletto heels were born. At that period of time, Baby Boomer pornographers captured female nudes and photographers captured pin-ups wearing high heels. Most of those photographs, accompanied men all-over battlegrounds in Europe.

 

In contrast with the past, millennial professional women are turning away from high-heeled shoes, which have long been misconceived as a symbol of female empowerment and sexual confidence. In light of the unmasking of powerful men as sexual harassers, some critics now consider high-heeled shoes a symbol of gender discrimination. As a result, towering stilettos are increasingly being replaced by athletic and comfort-shoes.

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