We are used to hearing all kinds of negative press about high heels. Heels usually get all the negativity and there is even some high heel shaming going on. Happily, not everyone thinks like that.
Some of the biggest fashion designers have claimed support for heels before. But now there is even the Japan High Heel Association (JHA) which is urging women to wear heels.
“Japanese women walk like ducks,” JHA managing director “Madame” Yumiko told AFP in an interview at her plush Tokyo salon. “They waddle along, pigeon-toed, with their bottoms sticking out as if they’re bursting to use the toilet. It looks ghastly,” she added.
The JHA is trying to fix that. It is hosting etiquette lessons, including special classes where women are taught to walk correctly, and particularly in high heels. Critics have branded the idea sexist and laughable. Yet the “walking etiquette classes” are proving hugely popular. Students at JHA pay 400 000 yen for a six-month course. And so far 4000 women have taken part, while similar lessons and schools are popping up nationwide.
Yumiko, who is a former ballerina, blames the countries sartorial heritage for the posture problem. “Chinese or Korean ladies don’t have these problems,” she said. “It’s a result of Japan’s kimono culture and shuffling about in straw sandals. It’s ingrained in the way Japanese walk.”
Yumiko argues wearing heels will help “Japanese women become more confident”. “Many women are too shy to express themselves. In Japanese culture, women are not expected to stand out or put themselves first.” Her solution is for women suffocated by such strict protocols to simply “throw on a pair of heels,” arguing the freedom it brings can unlock the mind.
Fellow JHA alumni Ayako Miyata agrees it is an important skill that few Japanese women have mastered. “It makes you look more lady-like. They’re an essential item for a modern woman to feel pride and confidence in herself.”
So, there you have it. While some see high heels as a constraint, others view them as liberating. This goes to show you that you shouldn’t be forcing people to wear what they don’t want to wear. And you shouldn’t really be shaming them for what they have chosen to wear. Something we have been saying all along.