First, the study. It’s made by a group of researchers at Murdoch University in Australia. It’s led by Dr David Lewis, the Mirror reports.
According to this study, men like women in high heels because the heels arch their backs. The researchers claim an arched back may suggest “openness to mating advances”, so the men are lured in without even realizing.
It gets deeper. The article in Frontiers in Psychology says: “Because no high-heeled shoes were present in any of the Study 2 stimuli, the current findings cannot be explained by an association between high-heeled footwear and perceptions of women’s sexuality, a media-constructed preference for high-heeled shoes, or any other reason that men might have a preference for the shoes themselves.”
The researchers back their claims with another tidbit. Their study shows that men are more attracted to celebrities when they are wearing high heels. The authors say that the optimum angle for an arched back is 45 degrees. This is the most attractive to men, according to the study. Wearing high heels usually adds 2 degrees to the back arch. The authors also say that celebrities “may arch their back even more to look more beautiful in heels”.
Equality campaigner Nicola Thorp though slams the findings. She made headlines last year when she revealed she was fired from her London office job for refusing to wear high heels. According to her the findings are “dangerous” – because its message “appropriates rape culture.”
Therein lies the problem
“Why does the study only look at men who find women attractive? What about women who find women attractive?”, she says to the Mirror. “I don’t need a study (to tell me heels are sexy).” “I’d say then that personal sexual preference is exactly that-personal. People of all sexualities are attracted to different things.”
This is partly showing our beef with the issue. It seems that everything these days has to be separated into categories, reasons and definitions. You can’t simply like high heels for their appearance. You are “sending a message”. Or you can’t dress in the way you feel most comfortable, because “it’s not appropriate” for whatever reason.
Even worse, it seems people love to separate and go into the complete opposites of a topic. You either completely agree with something or you completely deny it. There’s no gray area anymore.
And fashion, especially high heels, are a prime victim of this. Fashion is a way to express yourself. To help yourself feel better. And yes, to look better, too and there’s nothing wrong with that. But these days many are claiming that you shouldn’t do that, because of what someone else may think or may be offended.
Being free means you should be able to wear what you want. Thorp says is well: “The point is, it’s up to an individual whether they want to wear high heels or not. And it’s no one else’s business. The study shows there is a sexualized element to high heels, and if a person feels sexy wearing heels then great! I know that wearing them everyday can cause long term damage, I don’t need a study to tell me that. Last Friday night told me that!”
The problem is, people seem to be conditioned to think of high heels in only one way – if a woman wears them, this means she’s “one of those” i.e. “available” or “asking for it” and that’s something that both some men and some women think. And that’s the furthest thing from the truth.
A lot more to learn
Furthermore it’s not really true that men like women only in high heels. There are countless of examples of men who prefer women in jeans and sneakers. The point is: Yes, high heels can make you look better – when you team them with the right outfit and you know how to walk in them properly. No, high heels are not the reason why men want you or think of you in a way that’s not appropriate. Or at the least heels shouldn’t be the reason, but it seems many people find it easy to just make heels the scapegoat. Do you know which is one of Kendall Jenner’s most popular pics on Google? It’s not her in high heels. It’s her in a little white polkadot dress with sneakers. So, now should we direct the hate towards short dresses and sneakers, too?
Why it’s so difficult to accept that people should wear whatever they feel like, we don’t know. Of course, you shouldn’t really go to a wedding or a formal business meeting in cargo shorts. But you should also not be blamed or shamed for wanting to rock the highest and sexiest heels. Or if you don’t want to rock them and prefer something sensible and comfortable which is also fitting the setting. Hopefully one day we will all learn that the shoes aren’t the problem, but our way of thinking and desire to blame everything and see the fault in everyone but ourselves.
If we can’t get it through our heads that high heels are merely shoes that *can* look better for some and that’s that, then what can we expect to think and do about serious issues. It shows that we have a lot more to grow and mature as a society before we are able to look past the clothes and see inside the person who is wearing them.