Kristen Stewart removed her high heeled shoes whilst walking down the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival and the Japanese #KuToo Campaign is gaining international recognition…..so what is all the fuss about?
How in the 21st century are we faced with institutions who dictate to women that high heels are to be worn as part of a dress code?
As a practitioner specialising in human biomechanics, women regularly present at my surgery with injuries and conditions related to the wearing of high heels and it is pleasing to see them taking action and wanting to wear more comfortable footwear.
In 2016, Nicola Thorpe, who had just started work for a London accountancy firm was sent home for refusing to wear high heels even though the job required her to be on her feet for almost nine hours.
At the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Kirsten Stewart took off her black Louboutin heels and walked barefoot along the red carpet to make a statement against the Cannes Film festival no flat shoes policy.
The latest high heel debacle has hit Japan. The #KuToo Campaign has raised nearly 20,000 signatures for an online petition demanding the government ban companies from requiring female employees to wear high heels on the job.
The petition seeks to end gender discrimination and “make it easier for everyone to work, creating a working environment free from unnecessary burdens.”
In 2005 a rule requiring businessmen to wear neckties was overturned when the Japanese government started a “cool biz” campaign encourage companies to turn down air conditioners with the aim of reducing electricity consumption.
The #KuToo campaign is a play on the word for shoes, or “kutsu” in Japanese, and “kutsuu” or pain. It was started by freelance writer and actress Yumi Ishikawa, who submitted the petition to the Japanese health ministry on Monday.
Japan’s health and labour minister Takumi Nemoto has defended workplaces that stipulate the wearing of high heels, arguing it is “necessary and appropriate”.
Apart from the discriminatory aspect, the wearing of high heels causes pain and discomfort but also results in long term physical damage to the foot and body biomechanics. Some clients even require surgery to correct dysfunction and ease pain.
Not only is the foot cramped into shoes which do not allow our walking biomechanics to function correctly but the resulting strain on knees and hips also leads to premature and uneven wear as the pelvis is forced to tilt forward to accommodate the unnatural walking posture.
Back pain and sacro illiac problems are also associated with wearing high heels as well as shortening of the achilles tendon and calf muscles. Many of these problems are not reversible, so the patient is left walking in pain for the rest of their life.