Recently a friend of mine, a male friend in his 70s, asked me why women wear high heels.
The answer is simple. You look sexier wearing them. You’re taller and slimmer, you stand straighter, you may even walk more confidently.
But they are so, so bad for you, and your feet just may hurt like hell in very short order. A 25-year-old woman should not have bunions, and yet I’ve known several who have, all because of their shoes.
Looking sexier isn’t always the way to go.
A news story from Great Britain brought this issue front and center again this last week. A 27-year-old temp worker, Nicola Thorp, was sent home from her receptionist job because she wore flats instead of the required 2″ -4″ heels. She’s started a petition to change the law in her country, and her efforts are going quite well, with more than 110,000 signatures collected so far.
There was no reason the temp agency could come up with, according to Ms. Thorp, requiring the heels. It’s clearly a matter of image, make that, sexism. Put the pretty girl at the front desk.
A friend of mine was recently advised to seek a job for which she didn’t have the skills, and the individual doing this job coaching told her, “it doesn’t matter. You’re pretty so the old codgers won’t care how good you are.” He pushed the issue, telling her she had an asset she wasn’t using. It was futile explaining to him how sexist and demeaning this is, even though every example he gave of women who held their jobs with similar “qualifications” only reinforced what was obvious to us.
Here’s what was particularly frustrating about that conversation: this isn’t a man you would, in general, call sexist. Yet in this area, he’s blind to his thinking.
As is much of my country, and many others as well. We still expect women to look pretty to succeed. There are multiple problems surrounding this, not the least of which is, some women are pretty. Most, with a little mirror time, clean up good, and want to put their best face forward, literally. No one is going to get away with telling them not to do that in the name of defending women’s rights.
But relying on your looks in your job is giving up your power. There is no strength in going before your boss, even going through the office doors, knowing your chief asset is your appearance.
So where does the line get drawn, how is the issue resolved? One small step can be made by not using your appearance to gain favor as a worker. Other than meeting a standard of proper grooming, your shoes shouldn’t be winning over the executive suite. In fact, they shouldn’t be noticed.
If you’re dressed properly, they notice the woman.
And if they notice you, that’s power.
Image Credits: (Shoes) © Klemen Petrič – Fotolia; (Girl at Mirror) © sapunkele — Fotolia; (Looking for the Right Outfit) © NinaMalyna – Fotolia