Why Wearing Heels To Work Should Be A Choice, Not An Expectation

Women already have to deal with a ton of sexism in the workplace. Between flirty customers and sleazy co-workers, women have enough to deal with without worrying if their employer is being sexist, too.

The Dress Code Issue

It’s a tradition that’s proved to be hard to break, enforcing strict dress codes on women. Almost any high-schooler – and probably even those in middle or elementary school as well – can testify about the dress code imposed on girls so they aren’t a “distraction” to all those wicked boys. Shorts and skirts have to be a length that the administration deems appropriate, and if you show your shoulders in a tank top, you’re in for a reprimand.

It’s unfortunate enough that this is happening on the academic level, let alone the fact that it’s carrying on to the workplace. Recently, a photo was circulated on social media showing a waitress’ bleeding feet after she was forced to wear heels for a full shift. She lost a toenail after, though her supervisor insisted she would have to wear heels the next day anyway.

Men don’t have to worry about their work clothes being deemed “too slutty” or be expected to wear makeup in the workplace. Women have to walk the fine line between fitted business clothes and ones that are “too fitted.” But what are women supposed to do? How exactly do you tell what’s “too fitted” on your body? And if you wear a uniform that hugs you a certain way, it’s not like you can help it. Women can’t be punished for the shape of their bodies.

More Harm Than Good

What do heels really do for a woman in the workplace anyway, particularly in a profession like waitressing, where you’re on your feet constantly? If anything, they inhibit the waitress from being able to perform her duties at her full potential. A customer is most likely going to notice a waitress who’s slow or limping compared to one that’s not wearing heels.

Heels can have some serious health impacts on the wearer, too – especially if they’re worn for long periods of time. In this respect, employers are actually putting their employees in danger for conditions both immediate and long-term. Why would an employer ever willingly want to do that?

Footwear requirements don’t make an abundance of sense in most industries, unless we’re talking about something like steel-toed boots for occupations more prone to crushing injuries than, say, carrying a tray of food to a table. Sure, heels look professional, but so do plenty of flats and other, more comfortable shoes that are out on the market.

Ancient History

So, why the need for heels?

It’s an antiquated requirement reminiscent of the times when women weren’t allowed to wear pants to work. These dress code standards have been in employers’ heads for so long that they probably don’t realize how sexist they’re actually being. It’s sad that it’s gotten to this point and it’s time for things to be shaken up. These rules come from old-fashioned ideals and sayings like, “this is the way it’s always been.” But that doesn’t mean that it has to be the future.

Dressing professionally is an understandable expectation for the workplace, but there are tons of other options for shoes that are professional. Men have a variety of options – from a fancy dress shoe to more casual loafers that still look good. They can be comfortable in the workplace while still looking professional, so why can’t women?

As far as equality between the sex’s, we still have a long way to go if rules like this are still prevalent in our workplaces. There is no logical reason why women should be forced to wear shoes that may physically harm them. If they want to wear heels because it’s their choice, that’s totally fine. But no woman should be forced to wear shoes that are impractical and uncomfortable. This is one tradition that should be left in the past.

Featured Image Via J Crew

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