Stephanie Smith: Why would anyone choose to wear something so ridiculous and oppressive?

The height of fashion: Stilettos are back for autumn, and there are many who love them for their height-enhancing and leg-flattering properties. But at what cost?
The height of fashion: Stilettos are back for autumn, and there are many who love them for their height-enhancing and leg-flattering properties. But at what cost?
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While we are on the subject of discussing, endlessly, what other people wear – and by people, of course, I mean women, just like everybody else does – I would like to vent my spleen about what I genuinely consider to be the most stupid and oppressive item of attire ever invented: the stiletto heel.

I don’t care how much your pair of stilettos cost. I don’t care about the so-called engineering that went into making them. I don’t care if they are Louboutins, Manolo Blahniks or from a budget High Street chain. What I do care about is why anyone would choose to wear footwear that actively impedes movement, feels horribly uncomfortable within 30 minutes, can permanently damage feet in the long term, can cause pain and harm in the short term, can cause serious accidents in a split second and, actually, when you consider the concept rationally, looks completely and utterly ridiculous?

The impact on movement is particularly concerning. We can barely walk in stilettos, let alone run, and there will always be situations when we need to run. There are adverts on TV encouraging girls to discover the joy of movement and activity, just as there is an increasing amount of TV airtime, quite rightly, devoted to women’s football and other sports. And yet teetering, movement-limiting stiletto heels are considered such a normal and everyday part of female dress that you can see them worn first thing in the morning by sports presenters on breakfast television.

Named after a dagger (and yes, these shoes have been used to murder and maim), stiletto heels have a point usually less than 1cm in diameter. They cause unsightly holes in pavements, internal flooring and other people’s feet.

In China, the practice of binding girls’ feet died out in the early part of the 20th century, yet here we are in the UK in 2018 willingly submitting our feet to contortion and torture, and for what? To look taller and slimmer? To walk like a princess or a pole dancer? To look elegant?

The sight of any woman tottering about on stupidly high spikes is far from elegant or dignified. And that’s even before alcohol becomes involved.

I wear heels. I like a bit of height, an inch or two, up to three and a half on a dressy night out, as long as I don’t have to walk too far. But never a stiletto spike.

Stilettos are silly and selfish. Don’t judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes, or so the saying goes. If you’re wearing stilettos, I’ve already made my judgment, and I won’t be walking 10 yards in your shoes, let alone a mile.