Stilettos, Pumps in the Workplace??: Fashionable Career Lifts or Detriment to Women in Leadership?

Like most women, I am addicted to shoes. Not just any kind of shoe, I am hands down, no questions asked, borderline need a professional intervention addicted to stilettos. I live by two life mantras: (1) don't think, buy the shoes and (2) you can do whatever you put your mind to, and you can do it in stilettos ~The Great, Kimora Lee Simmons!!! My predilection for stiletto heels is well known, the stiletto to flats ratio in my closet is at a daunting 12:1. I wear stilettos every where - in my house (yes I still like to play dress up!), to church, out on the town and undoubtedly at work. I am so used to wearing my high heels that it is really second nature to me. Now don't get me to telling stories, this ain't for the weak or feeble ankled. I work in a fast-paced operations environment at a hospital - I am on my feet the majority of the day going from one meeting to the next, from one end of the campus to the next, back and forth, up and down. But its a discomfort I've come to know and love and a conscious choice that I am quite comfortable with. While on occasion I get questions here and there on how I can stand to wear high heels for such long lengths of time, over the last couple of weeks I have noticed that my preference for footwear seems to draw greater attention, from those in awe to those visibly put off. After reflecting on the reactions I'm getting, it brought me to the deeper question: are high heels detrimental to the careers of women in leadership?

I have my own opinion but I took to the internet to better understand what I learned is a much debated topic. Particularly amongst traditional feminists high heels are scoffed at, viewed as another way to oppress women. Those who ascribe to this side of the argument share a deep disdain on how high heel shoes are constructed, distorting women's bodies arguing that heels only serve to turn us into sexual objects and are dangerous to our health. On the other end of the spectrum, modern feminists have reclaimed heels to be a symbol of female empowerment, not subjugation. Some psychologists even support this belief by offering that heels not only elevate the women literally but also psychologically by boosting confidence and assertiveness.

My opinion, you ask? Well just call me a modern feminist! I am an obvious supporter of women in heels. I definitely believe that heels in the workplace accentuate my individuality as a woman, it sets me apart in a male-dominated industry and serves as a reminder that I am a woman and yes I do things differently - however, my strong work ethic and successful output confirms that I still get it done - just like you (no matter what my shoes look like)!!!

SO WHAT DO YOU THINK? Are high heels detrimental to career growth for women? Can women leaders be taken seriously in our sassy yet classy heels? Have you ever been treated or viewed differently because of your choice of footwear in the workplace?


Convo said...

I think that it is important that the shoes remain tasteful, and do not have too high of a heel or too much of a platform, so as to not be confused with the infamous "stripper shoes." Its important to not look like you could go to the club after work. Many high heels, 3-4 inches, are still tasteful and classy, however.

May 13, 2010 at 9:01 AM
Ayvaunn said...

I was practically born in heels hahaha, so I definitely love them. I'm also a professional young lady. I agree with you and Convo (above comment). Heels should make a woman proud to be woman. They most certainly do not detract from work ethic. I'm an esteemed worker myself. Yet, heels should remain tasteful in the workplace in terms of height. Great article!

January 7, 2011 at 1:55 AM

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