High Heels Essay

3479 words - 14 pages

High Heels

"To be carried by shoes, winged by them. To wear dreams on one's feet is to begin to give reality to one's dreams."
-Roger Vivier

Shoes of every make and style are loved by women across the globe but it is the heel, whether stiletto or platform that is coveted, adored, desired in such abundance simply in and of the shoe itself. They're everywhere. They run rampant in books, calendars, photographs, album and movie covers, dangling in miniature precious metal versions from earlobes and chains, women's closets and even their living rooms, and let's not forget their most important place of residence- women's feet. They're a constant obsession in pop culture, endlessly talked about and fetishized in television, movies, song lyrics, and seem to be worn without fail by glamorous celebrities no matter the occasion. The most notorious of the shoe loving pop culture media is of the smash HBO series Sex and the City, in which shoes are one of its main themes.

Cast of Sex and the City at

What's in a shoe? Perhaps it was originally intended to protect one's feet from the elements but today the shoe has evolved from its practical origins to grandiose heights, and at the highest level is of course, the high heel. Heels are not something one simply wears on their feet, but a passion, hobby, personal expression, source of authority, sexual independence, staple of gendered feminine culture, mark of flaunted femininity, psychologically empowering, and joy. Women choose to wear high heels for many reasons; the key is that they indeed are the ones who proactively choose to endorse the high heel, often at the expense of their own physical comfort.

High heels have long been stigmatized as a crippling mechanism of the ever present and detrimental patriarchy. As a system of values, categorizations, lateral and vertical hierarchies, oppression, subordination, presentation and performance overlaying American society, meanings are infused in every aspect of life. It appears impossible to escape misogynistic values but as Judith Butler writes, "The law might not only be refused, but it might also be ruptured, forced into a rearticulation that calls into question the monotheistic force of its own unilateral operation." (Butler, 122) In other words, never underestimate the "range of disobedience;" (Butler, 122) because the possibilities of rejecting domination are endless.

The significance of shoes, feet and high heels have a history of masculine power and female fetishization. Opponents of the high heel often call upon fascist beauty standards and self destructive desires to please men as the culprits responsible for causing women to don back breaking heels which limit mobility and cause extreme physical harm not only to the feet but also the knees and back.

However, high heels are most often learned in a matrilineal context; whether one learns to wear...

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