Just a glimpse of Louboutin’s red sole captivates our attention. A status symbol that exudes confidence renders longer legs and a slimmer silhouette. Indeed, when we slip on a pair of towering heels something magical happens.
But even cobbler du jour, Mr. Christian Louboutin, admits that most woman have “a quasi-masochistic experience” wearing his stilettos.
Those six-inch Louboutins might make you wince, but according to the New Yorker more than 500,000 pairs are sold each year even if the cost of getting a pair of Louboutins ranges from nearly $400 up to $6,000.
So why did his killer heels conquer fashion and what exactly is the appeal of high heels? Is it their seduction power? Or is it a form of rebellion and show of character?
Our attraction to the high heel is deeply ingrained in both the female and male psyche.
The elegance of high heels has been communicated to us since childhood when we wobbled around balancing in our mother’s heels, raiding her closet with fascination and longing for the day when we have our own pair.
It was all about Barbie’s pink stilettos and Cinderella’s glass slippers that symbolised her encounter with Prince Charming.
Historically, Catherine de Medici, who is credited with introducing many of Italy’s luxuries and customs to France in the 16th century, wore the very first high heel shoes during her wedding to the future King of France, Henry. When commoners began to wear them around Europe, aristocrats where outraged and passed a law forbidding anyone of “lesser class" from wearing heels – which is the source of the expression "well-heeled".
Now research suggests that wearing jolts our posture into a forced feminine stance.
In the journal Evolution and Human Behavior a research team from the University of Portsmouth reported that while the popularity in footwear is popularized by historical reference and cultural norms, the long-term popularity of high-heels suggest that our gravitation to them stems from a deeper impulse of attraction.
They titled it “the supernormal stimulus,” or an enhanced stimulus found in nature, whereby “walkers in high heels took smaller, more frequent steps,” and an “increased rotation and tilt of the hips,” which exaggerated femininity and attractiveness.
But most of us could cry with relief when we them off at the end of the day.
The truth is that it’s not just about the discomfort or enduring the awkwardness, women can suffer from serious foot problems at some point.
Latest figures from the College of Podiatry show nine in ten UK women (around 2 million) suffer from foot problems from wearing shoes that are uncomfortable for the sake of fashion.
High heels can affect everything from your back to your battered toes. They can make you look longer, but as the heel height goes up, so does the amount of pressure on the forefoot.
They force the body’s weight to be redistributed and prolonged wear can lead to: metatarsalgia joint pain at the ball of the foot, bunions, Morton’s Neuroma, knee injury and hammer toes.
Our backs suffer, too, due to how heels change the natural alignment of our bodies, and can cause serious spinal pain. Once the spine is out, the pelvis follows, and a 'sexy' walk quickly becomes a limp to the chiropractor's office.
Dubai is a city quite unlike any other when it comes to its love towering heels. Out of the $8bn in luxury goods spending, a definitive 15 percent was taken up by footwear. As a proportion of spending, footwear accounts for five percent more here than across the globe.
We may view them with concern and acknowledge their limitations, but in spite of ourselves, we feel the primal pull they have. And we’re not likely to break our addiction any time soon.
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