Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Russian-backed rebel soldiers don high heels in beauty pageant

ONETSK, Ukraine — Trading in their combat boots and fatigues for high heels and ball gowns, female rebel fighters who normally fight Ukrainian soldiers took Saturday off to take part in a beauty pageant.
The event was organized by self-proclaimed authorities in the rebel-held city of Donetsk on the eve of International Women's Day, which is widely celebrated throughout the former Soviet Union.
Women from three main rebel battalions showed off their dinner dresses before they changed back to fatigues to receive prizes and roses.

Russia-backed female rebel fighters pose with the flag of the Donetsk People's Republic during a beauty pageant.

Most of the women were local residents who followed their husbands or boyfriends to the front while one was a Russian, from the Russian western city of Bryansk. Some of the women used to work in pre-schools, while others were in private business.
"I'm not used to this," said Nataliya, a contestant in a corseted dress who gave her nom de guerre as "Radist." ''There are heels to wear and then the dress is so revealing. We are soldiers after all."
A young rebel fighter watches as colleagues perform during a beauty contest on Saturday in Donetsk, Ukraine. Vadim Ghirda/AP

A young rebel fighter watches as colleagues perform during a beauty contest on Saturday in Donetsk, Ukraine.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Comfortable high heels in six easy steps

  1. Whoever said you had to suffer to be beautiful had not discovered Sargossa. We put this label in the Measure back in July, when we discovered it; I wore my Momentum sandals all summer. The Sargossa label is based on a patent-pending, super-comfortable sole with medical-grade padding. It works. They are not cheap (about £160-£200) but they are worth it.
Marks and Spencer shoe
Marks and Spencer suede boot, £59 Photograph: PR
2. On the subject of money: cheap high heels rarely work. High-street labels that are aimed at 17-year-olds have very pretty shoes, yes. But don’t come crying to me when your feet are in shreds. I suspect 17-year-olds have higher pain thresholds, possibly connected to their higher tolerance for alcohol. Marks & Spencer’s shoe department, on the other hand, can be an unexpected treasure trove: I love this suede boot.
Carvella shoe
Carvella sandal, £120 Photograph: PR
3. Which brings us to boots and ankle support. The traditional, open-front court shoe is the least comfortable kind of shoe you can wear, as your foot has to grip on to the sole. Anything that holds your foot across the front will be more comfortable (see my picks in points one and two). A shoe such as this Carvela cage-front sandal will be much more comfortable than a more bare shoe. The lace-up-front high heel is much-worn by high-heel pros (see: super-stylist and front row star Sophia Neophitou), as it looks fancy and hot but is surprisingly comfortable.
4. The cobbler is your friend. Get your heel tips replaced frequently and your shoes resoled when they wear out. Buy leather insoles for added comfort. Shoe comfort depends on engineering, and engineering requires maintenance.
5. Be ruthless about editing your choice, and only consider heel heights you can actually manage. 100mm is a standard height for many labels – but most women can only actually manage 70mm. If you have two pairs of 100mm heels and you seldom wear them, do NOT buy any more: look for 50-70mm. They are surprisingly hard to find, but worth seeking out.
Cocorose
Cocorose shoe, £85 Photograph: PR
6. Last resort: when I go out to a fancy fashion party, I wear high heels and carry a tiny clutch bag but I bend one Cocorose foldable ballet slipper in each of my coat pockets

Thursday, January 8, 2015

It’s confirmed – men are mesmerised by high heels. Except me, that is

British actor Rosamund Pike arrives at the Bafta awards ceremony in high heels
Rosamund Pike in high heels. 'I live in hope that one day we will view high heels with the same horror with which we view foot-binding.' Photograph: Stephen Hird/Reuters
After well over half a lifetime studying, contemplating and documenting the vagaries of human behaviour and psychology, I must issue a confession. There is one significant trait of my fellow earthlings which leaves me utterly baffled and stumped. I am talking about shoes.
I first became fully aware of women’s relationship with footwear while still in my teens. An attractive young woman with whom I was nurturing a friendship casually remarked that she could never go out with me because I wore bad shoes. She said it with such certainty that it was clear she considered this not a temporary lapse in my fashion sense, but a profound and permanent character flaw. She could happily overlook my big wonky ears, ginger hair, freckles and lisp, but my scruffy supermarket pumps were the deal-breaker.
Many years later, one of my dearest friends was grumbling about the blisters and bruises being caused by her latest proud purchase. I muttered something about taking more care when trying things on in the shop and she looked at me as if I had started speaking fluent Martian. “I’d never not buy a nice pair of shoes just because they didn’t fit!” she exclaimed, then we sat gawping at each other while silent mutual incomprehension calcified the air.
I had thought men’s relationship with footwear was more simple. Yes, some men collect trainers the way I collect music and others collect stamps, but we really don’t care that much what women wear on their feet, do we? Or so I thought until this month, when academia came along to shatter my complacency. It turns out that the typical man does indeed care about women’s shoes and, surprise, surprise, it is high heels that press his buttons.
A study in the new issue of the Archives of Sexual Behaviour reveals that a woman who stands in the street and asks passing men for help in filling out a survey, or who “accidentally” drops a glove will get more positive responses if she is wearing heels than flats. She’ll also attract more attention when sitting in a bar. The author Nicolas Guéguen said that a woman’s heel size “exerts a powerful effect on men’s behaviour”. He was unsure why this should be happening, but suggested that the over-association of high heels with women’s sexiness and could lead men to misinterpret the sexual intent of women with high heels.
It is hard to argue with this. Even the most committed evolutionary psychologist would struggle to claim that our ancestors on the savanna enjoyed an evolutionary advantage if they propped up their arches on a couple of twigs while sabre-toothed tigers were on the prowl. As tactical mating strategies go, that one would be pretty stupid.
Further light is shone on the issue by the latest edition of Podiatry Now (I have the best bedtime reading). Given the damage that can be done to women’s feet by high-heeled shoes, podiatrists have an obvious interest in this matter.
Into the fray steps Dr Chris Morriss-Roberts, Britain’s leading expert in podolinguistics (quite possibly Britain’s only expert in podolinguistics, but credit where it’s due). He heard of a case of a 90-year-old woman with extensive feet problems caused by her footwear, who admitted that she wore high heels to look attractive to her husband. When asked, he admitted that he’d always hated the bloody things. I paraphrase, but not much. This set Morriss-Roberts off on a quest to find out what heterosexual men really think about women’s shoes. I read the paper eagerly anticipating the twist – surely it would transpire that after all these years of bunions and claw-toe, men really don’t care what women have on their feet?
It turned out that few men agree with the elderly husband (and me) and most are helpless suckers for a high heel and a strap. They reported being excited by the assertive brand of femininity they imply. As one research participant put it: “I sense authority behind that … what’s going on for me with high heels is a sense of politics, behind that there is an element of vulnerability, and a sense that the foot is being controlled by the shoe.”
Let us not forget that a stiletto is a weapon designed to slide through the ribs and stab the heart.
For what it is worth (ie nothing), personally I’m more attracted to a woman who looks like she can drink me under the table then carry me home, making a sturdy pair of DMs just the ticket. I live in hope that one day the human race will view high heels with the same horror with which we view foot-binding. Women would be spared innumerable podiatric agonies and men would, I think, just about cope. Until then I shall content myself with the knowledge that I’m right and the rest of the human race is a bit daft. And these supermarket pumps? They’re actually very comfortable you know.