Bye bye Manolos, hello Easy Spirit—Roberts thumbs her nose at Cannes fashion rules as more women fight the height VIDEO
Ladies, it’s turned out to be a very empowering week for our fight to assert our right to bodily autonomy. And in case you hadn’t noticed — feet are a feminist issue.
Earlier in the week, 27 year-old Londoner Nicola Thorp shared her tale of arriving for a temp assignment at finance company PwC in what she believed was professional attire — including “smart flat shoes.” But as she told BBC Radio, she was quickly sized up and told to go out and get a pair of shoes with “2 to 4 inch heel.” And when she refused, she was sent home unpaid. Her temp firm Portico seemed to stand by the choice, explaining that she “signed the appearance guidelines” when she joined the agency.
Recalling the incident to the BBC, she Thorp said, “I said ‘If you can give me a reason as to why wearing flats would impair me to do my job today, then fair enough,’ but they couldn’t. I was expected to do a nine-hour shift on my feet escorting clients to meeting rooms. I said, ‘I just won’t be able to do that in heels.’” And she said that when she asked if a male worker would be expected to perform the same job in heels, she was laughed at. But after she posted about her experience on Facebook, she wound up organizing a petition to change UK law — which currently allows different dress codes for men and women — so that women cannot be forced to wear high heels at work. And she now argues, “I think dress codes should reflect society and nowadays women can be smart and formal and wear flat shoes. Aside from the debilitating factor, it’s the sexism issue. I think companies shouldn’t be forcing that on their female employees.”
Unsurprisingly, there are some — including professional troll Katie Hopkins, who disagree with push to make heels optional. Writing in the Mail, she declared, “The feminazis love fighting and are always looking for the next scrap on their vagenda.” But ever since the story broke, other women have chimed in with their own experiences. On the BBC’s Facebook page, female commenters have weighed in with their own workplace experiences of being expected to toddle around in heels — even when they were several months pregnant, when they were suffering arthritis or plantar fasciitis.
As it turns out, the planets have kept aligning for us to keep the shoe-centric dialogue going. Writing in the New Yorker, the eternally great Mary Karr presents her case against high heels, tracing her life trajectory from a brief stint as a foot model to the “beleaguered and bunioned” woman she is today. She cites the once sky-high Victoria Beckham, who this past winter admitted, “I just can’t do heels any more.” And ultimately, she calls for a revolution, rallying with the cry, “Oh, womenfolk, as we once burned our bras could we not torch the footwear crucifying us?”