High heels have gradually over time become an accessory instead of just being a form of protected footwear. The first high heeled shoes dates back to the 1400s known as Chopines.
Chopines ranged in height from eight inches high to thirty inches. They were designed with a cork or wood stacked heel .They soon became a status symbol they indicated wealth and social standing for women.
In the 1500s shoes were being made into two pieces this consisted of a flexible heel attached to the sole of the shoe. Known as the “riders heel” was initially 1 inch high. What was a simple riding heel then became more modernised and the heel became higher and thinner.
The modern day high heels first came into fashion when Catherine de’ Medici a small petite woman the wife of the Duke of Orleans wanted to add a few more inches to her height. This then instigated a trend were women felt the need to be taller.
During the 1700s high heels lost its popularity during the time of the French revolution because of the flat-soled shoes which dominated fashion during this time high heels later came back into fashion in the 1860s.
In the 1900s a narrow heel called a stiletto the Italian word for a small dagger came into fashion and were popular with women they varied in height from kitten heels to stilettos. There also became a range of styles:
Why do I wear heels From the age of two I always use to like dressing up in my moms shoes because of this my mom bought plastic dress up shoes which I wore constantly around the house. I owned my first pair of heels when I was seven they were a pair of boots with a small kitten heel. From then onwards I have worn heels. You could say therefore, that my first motivation for wearing heels was based on the ideal representation of my mum as a grown up. I wear them because its what I’m used to because I wore them at a young age and my mom always wears heels; to me its like routine. I feel more confident and ladylike heels compared to trainers or flats. This can indicate why I wear heels now. I would therefore begin to base my fashion choices on the theories of representation and identity.
The representation of high heels can indicate a range of things about that persons identity as high heels can express things like insecurities and can represent why that individual persons wears high heels. They also communicate a range of social messages to society such as:
The progression of high heels High heels were initially worn to parties, special occasions or to work however now they are worn on a causal outing to the shops. As during this time heels have become even more of a fashion statement and accessory instead of just footwear and they can be worn for any occasion. High heels have become a form of cultural practise as women now wear them for any occasion due to societies influences and a need to conform this could also relate to celebrity trends and their influence. Alternatively the relationship between cultural practice can link with personal identity, as not all women may wear heels due to societies influences but because they want to as an individual.
Societies Influences and obsession The popularity of high heels can either determine that women wear high heels to feel empowered and for there own personal self worth or has society conditioned the ways in which we think by sending out messages to women that wearing high heels is just something that we are supposed to conformed to. Women's obsession with high heels are even shown by Isla Fisher In confessions of a shopaholic. Many women demonstrate that they conform to societies obsession with shoes as despite the disadvantages and women often complaining out how much there feet hurt or obsessing whether the heel is to high. This has not deterred most women as the obsession with shoes is ever growing. This clearly shoes that women may wear high heels due to societies influences and there impact not necessarily because they get any pleasure of confidence from them. But because they feel they have to met societies expectation.
According to Carl Rogers theory there is struggle between who we want to be and who we actually are. The self is believed to have three factors:
Your self image
The true self
Rogers theory also shows that we can model ourselves based on famous people or the public in general this is known as the “public self.” The “Public self” a more superficial version of our self than the one we show close family and friends.
This can indicate why women wear heels a need to fulfil there ideal self or modelling themselves and being influenced by celebrities and creating there “public self.”
Therefore, I would argue that my initial reason for wearing heels was to emulate my mum and create a ‘public self’
Now, I wear heels to tap into society’s ideas about femininity, and secure my ‘self-image.’
High heeled shoes can only be harmful if worn consistently they make the feet very sore this is because they are in a permanently unnatural position due to heels.
It also adds extra pressure on the back and neck creating bad postures.
The most common foot problems due to heels are blisters, corns, calluses and bunions these are mainly caused by pressure to the feet and the thin soles of high heeled shoes.
Although there are a lot of problems caused by heels it is usually ignored by most women due to superficial or fashionable reasons. Or there for there own personal feelings like ideal self or confidence.
According to a study a women will wear high heels for 51 years of her life. On average a women will wear her first pair of shoes at the age of 12 and her last pair at the age of 63 because comfort takes precedence.
Celebrity Influences Due to the latest fashion trend celebrities have become obsessed with shoes and because of this women are influenced and affected by the latest fashion trends in order to copy there fashion idols. Especially teenagers are influenced by this media projection of there favourite celebrity and emulate their shoe trends. Shoe crazy Celebrities Victoria Beckham - “ I just can’t concentrate in flats” she spoke about how she feels she is addicted to shoes in a recent interview and how she really ever wears flats. Especially high profile designers like Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik. It could be argued that the creation of a ‘celebrity culture’ in society and the priority and value this is given, elevates the importance of bags and shoes as these act as status symbols and communicate codes about lifestyle. I sub-consciously tap into this when I buy fashion magazines, and attempt to mould my own identity and lifestyle to the figures I see.
Celebrity Influences Paris Hilton – Reportedly owns a thousands pairs of designer high heeled shoes. Her favourite style shoes are the pointed stiletto heels and open toe- pumps. Due to her love of shoes Paris now runs a successful shoe line in her name. Sarah Jessica Parker- Her character in sex in the city made Manolo Blahnik a house hold name. She has a large influence in the fashion world is a representative for some designer shoes. “My name is Sarah Jessica, and I own well over 100 pairs of Manolo Blahniks,” she once claimed. This growing trend is influenced by celebrities it is beginning to be incorporated by people in there daily life ranging in ages from teenagers to adults. To ensure they stay on trend and are wearing what’s fashionable at the time. Marilyn Monroe - I don't know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot!"
Latest shoe trends video clip http://www.webcastr.com/videos/entertainment/celeb-soles-stars-favorite-spring-shoe-trends.html This short video clip shows the latest shoe trends and designers and the celebrities that are wearing them. Once again indicating the media obsession with high heels which could be influencing and impacting young women today.
The sudden fixation with high heeled shoes can be linked with society’s and celebrity’s obsession with high heels that they have began to influence teens today. As well as growing shoe trends that influenced by designers such as:
That are often imitated by local clothing stores like river island, new look and Bank.
There are also a variety of high heel shoes that have progressed from the standard stiletto shoes due to designers high heels patterns and intricate designs. To me this obsession with designer shoes also represents peoples’ desire to access affordable elements of high fashion culture. They may not be able to live in a house as big as Victoria Beckham, but they can wear the same shoes as her.
Cultural effects Due to high heel trends younger girls are wearing high heels despite a range of opinions in society. Suri Cruise the daughter of Katie Holmes and Tom cruise has been seen on many occasions walking in heels at the age of three. Katie responded to criticisms by saying they were not doing her any harm and that “They are actually ballroom dancing shoes for kids. I found them for her and she loves them,” This can have a negative effect on society causing girls to grow up to fast.
Media Stereotypes The ways in which the media from a early age stereotype girls to wear heels as heels are accessible to children for example like Suri Cruise or plastic shoe heels. Instead of some girls making their own choices they are conditioned and influenced by the need to conform to societies expectations. As the plastic children's heels can signify a sense of maturity and growing up this can demonstrate and indicate that the popularity of high heels is having a negative effect. Encouraging young girls to wear heels because of what they see in the media but the stereotypes that are surrounded by women and wearing high heels. This has undoubtedly influenced me, whether consciously or sub-consciously.
Women are stereotyped to look sexier when wearing heels as it emphasis their figure and appearance. As they make the body look slimmer and more lean lengthens the legs as well as gaining attention from the opposite sex. As not only do women feel more confident in heels men also prefer women in high heels. High heels are also stereotypes that usually represent one main definition desirability, the need to be sexy or sultry and femininity these stereotypes can be found in a range of media texts:
Media Stereotypes For Example In a music video, TV program or magazine the lead girl is usually wearing sky high heels to accentuated there appearance and portray the role of an object that is objectified by observers due to stereotypes associated with high heels and the stereotyped messages they send out. This can demonstrate why women (and why I) may feel conditioned by society to wear heels due to the portrayal of women by the media and the messages they send out.