If I were to stop 10 women on the street flaunting a pair of sky-high heels and asked: "why do you wear these shoes?" I guarantee that every lady would provide a different answer. Whether we're talking stilettos, wedges, platforms or pumps, high heels are a surprisingly sticky and emotional thing. Some women equate them with glorified foot-binding and the crushing pressure to be conventionally "feminine" while others wear them as a badge of sexual prowess and power. And just about everything in between.
But here's one response I doubt any women would utter: "I wear high heels because men are more likely to help me when I wear them."
Contrary to our utterly baffled and what-a-bunch-of-sexist-crap sigh, a recent study conducted by a Frenchman Nicolas Guéguen and published in Springer's journal, Archives of Sexual Behavior, men were more likely to help women who dropped a glove if they were wearing heels. And get this: the higher the heels, the more eager the men were to rush to her aid. When the same women were wearing flats, men left them to their own devices.
This finding leaves us with a mild taste of vomit in our mouths, but also a whole host of socio-sexual quandaries. Do men clamor to well-heeled women because she seems more fragile and unstable tottering along? Do her heels make her a more sensual, sexual being that might be more keen to be whisked away into bed-dom than her flat-wearing brethren? Does our perceived vulnerability in heels (we can't really do anything with ease from bending down to walking up stairs) consciously or unconsciously surface a desire to protect us?
Hard to say what the impetus is. Perhaps it's all three, perhaps it's something else entirely. But Guéguen is fascinated by men's ability to be manipulated by women's physical attributes. "Women's shoe heel size exerts a powerful effect on men's behavior," He argues this is the very foundation when judging and interacting with members of the opposite sex. (In a hetero-normative paradigm of course.)
But before we leave you with the strange but perhaps not-so-surprising observation on gender relations, let's us take a brief moment to remind you why wearing heels is kind of cray. (Keeping in mind that I rock them all the time. So.)
First of all, there are countless tiny injuries that can occur just from a quick trip to the grocery store (please tell me I'm not the only one who wears heels to Trader Joe's). From blisters to twisted ankles, trying to sexify your soles can wreak havoc on sorts of bodily parts. Not only does wearing high heels force our body into unnatural position, poorly distributing our weight, making us lean forward, overcompensate and overarch our backs, but squishing your toes and feet-meat into ya know, triangle shapes, can causes nerve damage and bunions. Oh, and striding along in a perpetually pointed position totally messes with your Achilles tendon—it's supposed to be all stretchy and supple but persistent stiletto wearing can shorten the hell out of it. Meaning? Flattening your feet could be painful, or, worse, impossible.
So there ya have it. Go ahead and rock that sky-high situation but know that you're participating in an intricate dance macabre of self-harm and (maybe) sexist hyper-sexuality.
But damn, do your legs look good.