High-heel wearing should not be forced, study says – ref. BBC NEWS today

Currently in the UK employers can legally require women to wear high heels as part of their business dress code. Research published by The University of Aberdeen shows that wearing high heels causes bunions, pain and personal injury. The same study also shows that wearing high heels makes you more attractive (to both sexes) and makes you feel more confident. 

Dr Max Barnish, who led the research, said: “From our review it is clear that despite the huge amount of evidence showing heels are bad for individuals’ health, there are complex social and cultural reasons that make high-heel wearing attractive.”

Nicola Thorp was in the news very recently when she went to court to try to get the law changed. Nicola was sent home from her temporary job when she refused after to change her flat shoes for heels. Her petition was unsuccessful and the government stated last April that the law is currently adequate as it stands.

The very nature of fashion means that it is a constantly moving and changing feast. A being formed and shaped by public attitudes and opinions. It is interesting to see that the University of Aberdeen have picked up on the psychological effects of wearing high heels, both on the wearer and others around them. The real question is wether or not this psychological effect is still relevant as a tool for creating a professional business image, or for gaining the competitive edge.

I recently found myself in a London night club with a couple of my girlfriends. What really struck me about this experience (other than being considerably older than most of the clientele!) was that I was the only person wearing high heels. It was really great to see all of the younger women looking fabulous and enjoying a night out dancing in flats!

Even on a recent Virgin flight I noticed that only some of the female flight attendants were wearing heels. A significant number were wearing smart flat red shoes. Those in the flats had a lightness to their work which was absent in their high-heeled colleagues. It seems to me that the tide is changing and that attitudes and opinions are changing. We have a younger generation of women who are declaring loud and clear that they care more about being able to perform the duties required of them without pain and fatigue. Surely this can only be a good thing for the workplace!

The Canadian province of British Columbia has already amended legislation to prohibit employers from requiring staff to wear high heels. How much longer before our own legal system responds to this shift in social attitude?


High heels tend to give the aesthetic illusion of longer, more slender legs.

The term “high heels” covers heels ranging from 2 to 5 inches or more.

High heels can be traced back to ancient Egypt.

During the European renaissance, the high heel became a status symbol worn by both male and females from the higher social statuses.

By 1580, a person with authority or wealth was often referred to as “well-heeled”.

Since the French Revolution (1789-1799) the trend wearing high heels was ended to avoid any associating with the old aristocracy and its opulence.

Since the Second World War, high heels have fallen in and out of popular fashion several times, most notably in the late 1990s, when lower heels and even flats predominated

About The Author
Ellen Bletsoe I like to provide a space in which my clients can define and celebrate their own style. Qualified Personal Stylist and Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International.

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