'We are being told that being short is a problem'

'We are being told that being short is a problem'

High Heels

To trace the introduction of high heels is quite a herculean task given the fact that an immense amount of research and literature exists to examine the genesis of the footwear which has now become a style statement.

In Egypt, murals from approximately 3500 BC depict both men and women wearing high heels for ceremonial purposes. Chopines were introduced in Turkey, in the 1400s, which became popular throughout Europe due to the regions’ close proximity to the Ottoman territories.

During the 16th century, women of the European royalty wore high heels to make them look taller and in fact men also wore them to mark themselves as ‘men of authority’, and often referred to as “well-heeled”. Heels were also worn by horse riders or those who could afford a horse to have a firmer grip in stirrups until steam engine slowly began to replace traditional modes of transportation.

While it wouldn’t take much for anyone to conclude that the inception of wearing heels has more or less to do with dynamics of power and authority, there is no denying that people for millenniums comprised on comfort to fulfil their fashion appetite. As of 2015, women being at the forefront of carrying out this tradition.

Deepali Batra, a Delhi-based clinical psychologist heads Psychological Academic learning Services (Pals), a mental health centre for children and adults, observes    societal pressures of wearing high heels seeps into the mind of women during adolescence when they are barraged with images which associate tallness with beauty.

“Popular culture and peer pressure forces girls to gain social confirmation. The idea that only tall people look good often creates personality crisis and that’s why from a very young age have an urge to look tall,” said Batra.

With many attributing the formal invention of high heels to short-statured Catherine de Medici (1519-1589) who at the age of 14 was engaged to the powerful Duke of Orleans, later the King of France, only aid Batra’s beliefs. She however added that the pressure of looking tall is equally on the men.

Barsha Chakraborty, a social activist, said that all heels do is to restrict ‘movement of women’.

“While walking a lot of care has to be taken and there is a specific way to walk in heels or one may tip over. This forced discipline may not be a conspiracy of the patriarchy but the question is why women would go to immense lengths to wear something so uncomfortable,” Chakraborty said.

“It’s not only our feet that pay the price when you wear high heels, wearing those gorgeous heels can do damage even to your knees, hip and back. High heels can gradually cause the forefoot to overwhelm the joints and the toes,” said Aminder Singh of the Anytime Fitness Gymnasium who elaborated on the health hazards attached to high heels.

Shraddha Mishra, an HR personal, while agreeing that the practice of wearing heels is more or less ‘discriminatory’ said that it does give women a sense of power. “Generally I wear heals before heading for a party even though knowing the fact how uncomfortable they are. Mostly heels are worn to match your partner’s height, but it also gives me a sense of confidence and power. Women look good in them,” Mishra said.

“The people who are of shorter stature are vilified. We are being told that being short is a problem,” concluded Batra.