Why Do Women Wear Crazy Shoes?

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Alexander McQueen's ten-inch spring 2010 heels. Photo: Imaxtree

The New York Times asks why women like to wear shoes that are impossibly high, uncomfortable, and difficult — perhaps even dangerous — to walk in. Various (what we suppose are) experts weigh in. Soap star Tina Sloan of Guiding Light offers this:


In brute defiance of reality, we wear heels we can barely walk in and much like sitting in the sun bathed in oil to get a darker tan or smoking so as not to eat and get fat, we suffer the consequences. But somehow the consequences are too far out to care about. It is just such fun to look glamorous in high, high heels.

Well, that's silly, because high heels don't actually give people cancer, like sun exposure or smoking. Moving on to a better answer from Robert H. Frank, Cornell economics professor.


Taller people earn more, for example, and command greater attention in social settings. And hence the attraction of high heels.

But height is relative. If others wear flats, a woman in two-inch heels seems tall. But that same woman seems short if others wear four-inch heels. Which explains why heels have grown taller as fashion markets have become more competitive. On Paris runways this week, models had to wear five-inch heels atop two-inch platform soles to get an edge.

He goes on to note that in the end no one gains, because high heels can injure the feet, knees, and back. We wear high heels sometimes because we like the way they look. Also because it's just fun to be taller. Especially when you're out with your man, and you have spectacular new seven-inch heels on (that you perhaps got an amazing deal on at a sample sale) and you're finally taller than him, and he's kind of embarrassed, but when you greet assorted friends, they say, "Wow! Your shoes are amazing! You're so tall!" And you can say, "I know! I'm taller than him now!"

Your thoughts?

Why We Love the Shoes That Hurt Us [Room for Debate/NYT]
Earlier: The Shoes at Alexander McQueen Were Only Ten Inches High