I came across an article on the BBC News website about a petition that was created over a pair of high heels, it isn’t as trivial as it sounds. A woman was sent home from her ‘…temp job as a secretary after refusing to wear shoes with a “2in to 4in heel”.’ Following the actions of the temporary employers the woman set up a petition calling for a ‘…law to stop firms from requiring women to wear high heels at work’ which garnered over 100,000 signatures. This petition no longer became just about women being made to wear high heels at work but about their entire appearance from makeup, hair, clothing and footwear with some women being asked to ‘ …wear shorter skirts and unbutton blouses, and of dress codes detailing nail varnish shade and hair root colour.’
There are places of employment that have uniforms which you would think would solve some of the problem and the confusion as to what is appropriate and what isn’t, for example waiting and airline staff. A uniform is considered a form of marketing, promotion, a reflection of the company as well as supposedly showing a level of professionalism, Not sure about others but I don’t need to be done up like a Barbie doll to do my job. But how far can an employee be allowed to go when deciding the appearance of their staff? As long as appearance rules; looking presentable, no flip flops in the office etc. are adhered to, can an employer then go further to decide what type of clothing, footwear should be worn even down to the brand?
Weighing in on the high heels debate television presenter Piers Morgan who initially compared women being told to wear highs heels all day at work the same as men being asked to wear a tie, not really an equal comparison but there we go. Trying to make a point Morgan appeared on a morning television show wearing a pair of silver heels, from his own experience he ‘… told co-presenter Susanna Reid and the show’s Entertainment Editor, Richard Arnold: ‘I have to be honest, away from all the bravado, it was one of the painful things I have ever had to wear on my feet…‘
Hahaha, any woman who has ever worn high heels could have told him that, your toes are squished into a point whilst the rest of your foot is positioned at an angle that can cause agony on the ankles.
The outcome of the initial petition (152,420 signatures) and the attention it has received resulted in MPs deciding that ‘…‘troubling’ cases of sexism, including forcing women to wear high heels or revealing clothes, are evidence Equalities Act 2010 is inadequate’ It’s a shame that a petition, of all the things happening around us, over wearing heels in the workplace has led to thousands of women coming forward with their own horror stories, some of the behaviour of the employers involved would be considered highly sexist.
When it comes to work clothing or clothes in general us women do have more choices than men, we can wear trousers, skirts, dresses where men are stuck with changing up what colour shirt to wear, smart trousers in some places wearing a tie is optional. Makeup wise, I wear it because without it I would look unwell though there are people I have seen throughout the years who don’t wear any makeup to work to those who have a full face of varying colours. Fortunately the company I currently work for have far more important things to concern themselves with rather than what size heels if any I am wearing. When public facing I make more of an effort but when holed away in my office I can tell you that the neat and fresh faced person (some days) you see in the morning is not the same look I have going home at the end of the day!
Whichever look you go for it isn’t always a reflection on your ability to do your job the perception others have when it comes to your ability to do your job based on your appearance. Granted you wouldn’t want to get on a plane if the pilot looked dishevelled and looked like he had just crawled out of bed, or want to take advice from a solicitor who is dressed like they are going to a beach. But then common sense also needs to be used, tattoos and facial piercings used to be an issue but have become more acceptable. I doubt it’s a death knell for the high heel just yet, us women like shoes, including the ankle destroying, toe pinching high heel.