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14 July, 2006

Steelettos again

Helen's response to yesterday's 'mediaeval' heels was a link I'd already noticed at BoingBoing but hadn't clicked through.

'Mleak' has made a pair of metal 5Ē stiletto sandals with hinged straps which secure the shoes onto the feet, using padlocks. Personally, I don't like the shoes as shoes – I don't find anything attractive about feet that contorted – they work better as empty items. I doubt they were designed to be wearable, being more of an artistic/political statement. It's that stated rationale which I question (hey; it's art; if it provokes a response, it's succeeded).

When I made these, I was considering popular ideas regarding beauty, particularly the idea that 'pain is beauty, beauty is pain'.
Iím honestly amazed at women who choose to wear stiletto heels on a regular basis. One must 'learn' how to walk in such heels, and it remains difficult and uncomfortable. Over time, high heels can cause serious damage and permanently restructure the leg.
This pair of shoes acts as a pair of handcuffs, binding the wearer, although it is unclear who will hold the keys.
That's an opinion, but it's a rather loaded statement, which I consider overly negative and judgemental of women who do choose to wear heels regularly. To imply* that women don't want to wear high heels but passively submit to an external expectation is somewhat analogous to saying that because I don't understand the attraction of football, no-one enjoys it, they only pretend to because of social obligation. That absolutism leads to dungeree-clad uniformity, and the OTT variety of bra-burning 70s feminism.

Unsurprisingly, I support individual choice ahead of politicised groupthink. Believe it or not, there are people who do genuinely choose to wear heels, and not because they 'have' to. It is conceivable that some wear them for comfort – mental, if not podalic.

To be fair, Mleak doesn't condemn heel-wearers outright:

Iím also interested in the use of high heels as a sort of armor for women, in which, for instance, a businesswoman might don them to provide herself with additional height, a sexualized stance and gait, and a feeling of power over men.
Okay, but those 'pro-' arguments seem a little simplistic, too.

It's fashionable to criticise the 'bondage of feminine beauty', especially amongst male feminists, for some reason (overcompensation?): "I feel your pain." Bollocks. By definition.

It does irritate me immensely when I want to go sightseeing (which involves walking) and Helen wears heels to be seen, or when I'm restricted by the inability of H's shoes to cross/stand on certain surfaces, but I respect her right to feel good about herself, for herself, without being accused of merely conforming to male-defined social values.

*: imply, but not state. If I'm ascribing intent wrongly, I apologise. Hopefully my more general point stands (Ooh! Two unintentional puns in one!).

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