Sunday, September 18, 2016

Enforcing High Heels In The Office Is The Height Of Workplace Sexism

First impressions count, even for business. It’s why the reception of any building is usually the smartest part of the office. There will be brightly coloured flowers, comfortable sofas, free water and, more often than not, a pretty young woman ready to welcome you. They’ll be wearing a full face of make-up, the smartest clothes their salary will allow, and a beaming smile. They’ll know the name of everyone in the building but nobody will know theirs. They are the first thing any visitor knows about your company and the guardian of your secrets. They’re undervalued and underpaid. And no matter how good a job they do, the one thing you will judge them on is what they look like.

I know this because I spent a year welcoming guests, pouffing the cushions and answering the phone in my best cut glass accent for a finance company. At my annual appraisal they told me I’d done a great job and they were thrilled at the effort I was putting in, there was just one thing to be improved on. Could I possibly wear more lipstick?

This week Nicola Thorp was sent home from a receptionist job at PwC because she wasn’t wearing high heels. She’d been employed in a temporary role through an agency, Portico, whose dress code requires women to wear a two to four inch heeled shoe. Strangely enough there’s no such requirement for men. When Thorp turned up in flats, and declined to change into heels, she was sent home without pay. Thorp’s response to this was to set up a petition, which at the time of writing has garnered more than 30,000 signatures, to make it illegal for companies to require women to wear heels.

We know how you dress is no longer a signifier of success or importance, Steve Jobs’ dedication to jeans and trainers ended that, so why do we still feel it’s necessary to dictate the type of shoes that women wear? Yes, dress codes might ask men to wear ties and not apply this rule to women but there’s one clear difference here: unless your office takes its influences from Fifty Shades of Grey, there is nothing particularly sexual about a tie. High heels on the other hand, they’re designed to sexualise women. They lengthen our legs, change the way we walk and, whether we intend it or not, make us more attractive to both sexes.

When you’re a working woman there can be advantages to heels, particularly if you’re the shortest person in a room filled with tall men who want to literally talk over your head. They can elevate you, force you to throw your shoulders back and lift your head up, they can make you feel powerful. But that power comes from choice, when I walk around the office in a pair of shoes that risk my ankles it is my decision, and there is power in the freedom to make that decision. For some reason I don’t believe that Portico wants its female employees to feel empowered by their shoes, if they did they wouldn’t have minded so much when one of them pointed out the company’s blatantly sexist policy. So why is it so wedded to this outdated dress code?

Perhaps it’s because even now in 2016, nearly 100 years after women got the vote, 50 years since we were entitled to equal pay and more than 10 years since Sex and the City stopped trying to convince us that heels were independence in shoe form, what we really judge success on is the attractiveness of the woman attached to it. It’s not enough to have a professional, competent receptionist welcoming your guests, she also needs to be sexy. Because for some reason companies still seem to think that true success is coming through the door to a woman who is both beddable and biddable, the 1950s housewife brought into the office. And there’s nothing empowering about that, no matter what shoes you wear.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Not Just High Heels: The 4 Different Types Of Shoe That You Might Not Know Are Bad For You

High heels, high danger; that’s the upshot of a study by researchers at Stanford University. And that’s not from falling off them, that’s from just being in them at all.

The awkward angle and unnatural pressure the angle of a heel puts on knee joints will wear away cartilage, leading to either knee replacement surgery, osteoarthritis, or both.

But while it’s perhaps easy to scoff and think ‘that’s ok, I’m sensible, I wear sensible flat shoes’; it’s not quite that simple.

Whichever shoes you wear, there’s a high change they will give you bunions. Or sore tendons. Or fungal infections. Or any other number of hidden horrors that can lurk when you make the wrong choice of footwear.

“Shoes are an essential piece of personal protection equipment, but then we add to them to make us taller, and we walk too far in poorly fitting shoes and get up to all manner of activities without properly considering our choice of shoes,” says podiadrist Emma Supple.

“Poor choices in what we wear on our feet and for how long can have a direct and damaging effect on our foot health.”

Here are some of Emma’s general do’s and don’ts for putting your best foot forward:

1. Heels

“When choosing high heels, pick the style with a well-placed heel under the natural heel of the foot,” Supple advises.

“Ideally go for styles with a strap or a buckle to help keep the foot from slipping.”

She adds that the height of - or the lack of - a heel is a personal thing, and it’s about finding what feels right and comfortable for you.

“For some this ‘perfect heel height’ is the highest of heels and for others the flats will triumph. Know yours and it makes shoe buying so much easier,” she says.

2. Slip-ons

“If you have inherited a tendency for bunions or misshapen feet that develops over time, poorly fitting, narrow style shoes that pinch the toes will make it worse faster,” Supple warns.

“It is important to note that bunions are not actually caused by shoes and are down to genetics or often arthritis, but they are made worse by narrow, slip-on styles of shoes.”

She also says to avoid open backed or thin-soled shoes if you’re susceptible to dry and cracked heels.

3. Slipper style

“Ugg-style boots are lovely and warm, but if they get wet or are worn out and about for long periods of time they can contribute to a sloppy style of walking that can have an effect up the body in knees, the back, all the way up to the neck and shoulders,” Supple says.

When they’re wet, they also harbour infection and can lead to conditions like Athlete’s foot. Make sure you have a separate pair of indoor shoes as well as your outdoor.

4. Flip flops

“Flip flops are a universal shoe that can be a fantastic way to keep feet free and strong,” says Supple.

“However they can overtire the feet sometimes, causing tendon problems because they work the whole back of the legs.

“Ideally their use needs to be mixed in with more supportive styles of shoes. The FitFlops, with their thicker sole and higher upper, are a great choice for many.”

“If you have inherited a tendency for bunions or misshapen feet that develops over time, poorly fitting, narrow style shoes that pinch the toes will make it worse faster,” Supple warns.

“It is important to note that bunions are not actually caused by shoes and are down to genetics or often arthritis, but they are made worse by narrow, slip-on styles of shoes.”

She also says to avoid open backed or thin-soled shoes if you’re susceptible to dry and cracked heels.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Killer Collection of Women High Heels Shoes

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