How Will High Heels Help Anyone Be More Efficient At Work?
Honestly, I love to look at those sexy high heels. They look like sculptures. I sometimes see the heels as a weapon too, and will be happy to use them to trod on some toes and egos, especially in the metro train.
However, do I need to wear them at work? Do four-inch stilettos help me be more efficient? Nope. Not at all. How do I know? I tried them! A social experiment for myself. In a fancy corporatised media house in Bombay, everybody was so nicely dressed; and monkey-see-monkey-do. I copied the power dressing code: High heels were the garnish with a flourish.
A little after lunch, the fancy footwear nestled sweetly under my desk and I was walking around barefoot. High heels hurt like hell. Ill-fitting ones will gift you blisters; wear them long enough, you will get a bunion or two as bonus. I never wore high heels to work again. And no one pulled me up for that.
However, I recently read something that made me cringe. Twenty-seven-year-old Londoner Nicola Thorp was sacked from her job last month, as a receptionist at a financial firm, for not wearing high heels! The Women in the World report details what Thorpe endured, and how she is dealing with the issue that probably affects many more women, but is not always called out as an act of sexism at the workplace.
The sensible Thorp challenged her employer and asked them to give her a reason why they think flat footwear will stop her from being efficient at her job
“‘That day I was wearing flats, black shoes, and they gave me a dress and a jacket, which I put on those and the supervisor said, ‘you're not gonna wear those. We only have women in heels at the reception.' I pointed to a male colleague and said he is wearing flats, and was laughed at,” Thorp recalled her humiliating interaction the first day she turned up at her temporary job, in an interview with BBC News.
She was told to go buy a pair of high heels, and was sent home when she refused. Not one to take the issue lightly, Thorpe went on to petition the British Parliament to "make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work”.
Apparently, there is a Japan High Heel Association (JHA) that believes that high heels equals ‘confidence’ and offers classes, for a fee, in case anyone wants to learn how to walk in uncomfortable shoes. This report states that the six-month course 'costs a massive $4,000', and that thousands of women in Japan have completed it.
Thankfully, in India, the insanity of enforcing ‘sexy’ footwear is yet to take permanent hold. But those women working in the service and customer-facing industries such as hotels, hospitality, airlines, and even advertising and television are often asked to stick to an unwritten code that tells them how to dress. The code is more detailed for women who are ‘expected’ to stick to certain norms. They may be wearing block heels or wedges, which are more comfortable in comparison, but the murmurs of disapproval to someone wearing flats, or casual clothing, are heard too.
Ever wondered why most women on Indian television wore western wear, or once looked a certain way, similar make-up and straightened hair? Or how an air-hostess’ uniform is often sexy first, and comfortable later? Looking good, and conforming to certain ‘standards’ of glamour at work has irked women professionals for years. But things are changing, and the silliness, one hopes, will be nipped before it becomes a disaster.
We make our own rules.