Girls Stepping Out with Those High Heeled Shoes!

I was walking on the cement path near the harbor, wearing my beat up old Reeboks and trying to keep a quick pace to get some exercise. I suddenly came upon a sight that made me stop-three pairs of feet dressed in black high-heel shoes, quite a contrast to my ugly workout shoes. "Can I take a picture?" I asked.

The girls who owned the shoes & legs said, "Sure!" They were attending a party inside a restaurant, and had come outside to sit and ‘get off their feet,' so to speak. This made me contemplate the concept of fashion that causes discomfort. Why do girls and women put themselves through so much pain to look good?

The history of high heels provides some amazing answers. It seems that high heel shoes aren't an invention propogated by men as a way to make women look sexy, as some feminists have accused. Men actually are attributed with inventing and creating high heels for themselves! That's a twist you may not expect.

In 1400 - 1500s when men road horses all day long, their shoes kept sliding out of the stirrups. Higher and higher heels were designed to keep the feet in position in the stirrup for hours on end-and it worked! However, French heel heights for men kept growing, becoming higher and thinner until they were no longer useful for riding. Court-pony shoes between three and four inches high were worn by men as fashion statements, while the slightly lower heels were for the saddle and work.

Leave it to the wife of the King of France to insist she have her very own pair of high heels after stepping into her husband's shoes. She liked the way they made her look taller and her feet smaller, and soon, every woman and man of any means wanted to own and wear high heels. The fashion statement lasted several hundred years. High heel fashion worn by men & women only fell out favor during the French Revolution due to its associations with wealth and aristocracy.

When high heels resurfaced as fashion wear in the 1800s, they were worn almost exclusively by women. Since the re-introduction, high heels have gone in and out of style numerous times. The feminist movement and other social forces have influenced how women dress.

High heels are going strong right now, and are standard attire for women attending social functions or seeking to look "dressed up" in the work place. While the stiletto, a tall, slim heel with minimum height of 2 inches and diameter of no more than 0.4 inch at the point of contact with the ground, is the ultimate in fashion, an aging population of women continues to opt for shoes low to the ground, just like most men have worn since they gave up their high heels 200 years ago. And for those who wear high heels, podiatrists see many patients who have foot problems from wearing them. If you choose to wear high heels, you can blame it on the men who invented them, but just remember that they aren't forcing you to wear these fashion statements!


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