Comments Off on REASON # 4 – HIGH HEELS

Diana Boyle owner of Embody Pole Fitness, in Corona, CA. finding inspiration from the amazing people around her continues an ongoing series of articles exploring the empowerment of modern women. Amateur writer, part time IT professional, three quarter time pole dancing diva and full time mom she give her thoughts (in no particular order) about what is great about being a woman today… REASON # 4 – HIGH HEELS With the growth of our studio, more and more ladies are wearing stiletto heels to class. Everyone knows since about 1stgrade girls love dressing up and from that moment women never seem to get over there adoration/addiction to shoes. Even though they are optional every single women opts to wear something racy. As I watch our students move through their routines while gracefully transitioning from sensual floor moves into athletic pole tricks I thought about how the shoes just added something extra to their performances. Then it hit me “Why?” I love my heels, the man in my life loves my heels, Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha love my heels, but no one knows why they love them. Why can this simple object exude such sexuality and sophistication? Armed with a few extra hours I decided to find some answers. So my project for this month was the reasons why people found high heels sexy… I began my search where all searches begin these days, by appealing to the oracle of the internet “Wikipedia.” According to the knowledge god of the internet High heels any shoe with a heel over 3.5 inches, reasons for wearing High Heels include: . they change the angle of the foot with respect to the lower leg, which accentuates the appearance of calves . they change the wearer’s posture, requiring a more upright carriage and altering the gait in what is considered a seductive fashion (I take this to mean a women’s chest is pushed outward…Hello!!!) . they make the wearer appear taller, they make the legs appear longer, they make the foot appear smaller, they make the toes appear shorter (It’s good that we are taking steps to stop the long toe epidemic. ) . they make the arches of the feet higher and better defined . they make the lower leg muscles and butt more defined (never a bad thing.) . they may improve the tone of a woman’s pelvic floor (I’m not even sure what a pelvic floor is but they grabbed me with “tone.” If someone told me this would tone my eyelids I may be inclined to give it a shot!) OK, good information but didn’t necessarily give me the clinical scientific method cause and effect relationship of heels to sexy. Maybe history will give us the answers…Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine how much energy has been expended understanding the physical and cultural impact shoes have had through the ages. Throughout the last 5000 years we see numerous examples of shoes with heels serving as markers of gender, class, race, and ethnicity. As early as 3500 B.C., while most ancient Egyptian citizens went barefoot the upper classes of society wore heeled shoes for ceremonial purposes to display social status. In ancient Greece, high wood or cork platform sandals of different heights were worn by actors to indicated changes or importance of characters. In ancient Rome the sex trade was a legitimate occupation and female prostitutes were most often identified by their high heels. However, heels became a fashion thanks to the French. So in addition to Champagne, Brie Cheese and that awesome maid costume we have another thing to thanks our European neighbors for. Catherine de Medici, at age 14 in an arranged marriage, was engaged to Henry the 2nd, Duke of Orleans . Catherine was small (under five feet), and “lacking in delicate features” (i.e. she was busted) but was very intelligent and shrewd woman. Henry was in line to be the next King of France, and Catherine felt insecure knowing she would be the Queen of the French Court and in competition with the Duke’s favorite (and significantly taller) mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Looking for a way to compensate for her lack of sex appeal and appear glamorous to the Court she donned high heels to give her a more statuesque physique and alluring sway to her walk. Her heels were a wild success (sort of like “Seven” and “True Religion” low rise jeans) and soon high heels were associated with privilege, authority and wealth. This was taken to a new level in the early 1700s, by France’s King Louis XIV. The “Sun King” had a shoe problem that would make former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos and her 3,000 pairs of designer shoes shake her head. The king would often wear intricately decorated heels as tall as five inches and decreed no one’s heels could be higher than his own and only nobility could wear heels colored red (les talons rogue, bitches!). Since that time high heels were designed to sculpt the body, making it appear more aristocratic, refined and sexually desirable. However, as always in life, this seemingly harmless object of fashion hasn’t been without controversy.Critics throughout history have argued against high heels. They cite medical problems and condemn the more sexually aggressive gait given to ladies wearing heels as a means to trap unwary men. Ooh, Scandalous! Seriously, the Puritans banned high heels in the new world due to their “sexually desirable nature.” The Massachusetts Colony even passed a law banning women from wearing high heels to ensnare a man or they would be tried as a witch. Come on people! “Don’t Hate! Appreciate!” Some even went so far as to associate high heels with the cloven hoof of a devil. (Sorry ladies, I have to give this one to them. Halloween 2008 Las Vegas Whoo-Hoo!) Fast forward to this century and high heels have permeated pop culture and fashion throughout the decades In the 30’s-40’s heels took an elegant flair and Hollywood was the main proponent of heel fashion as seen with Ginger Roger’s glittery white heels or Dorothy’s red bejeweled pumps on her way back from OZ. In the 50’s and 60’s clothing designer Christian Dior and shoe designer Roger Vivier developed the narrow heeled stiletto. The shoe, aptly named after the Italian word for a small dagger with a slender tapered blade, became the rage. During the 70’s with their gaudy combinations of bright colors platform boots and shoes were the “groovy” thing. The yuppie days of 80′ and 90’s gave us “pumps.” Women in business seeking to present a strong image flocked to them like refugees to rice because in addition to physically increasing height they also symbolically increased the height of a women’s power and authority. As for today, high-heeled shoes are seen everywhere on TV, movies and catwalks. Designers like Manolo Blahnik’s, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton and Gucci have become household names. In so much that it’s estimated American women spent nearly 17 billion dollars on fashion footwear last year. 17 billion that I am not proud to say contributed more than I should have. Thanks a lot, Herve Leger! Historically things are starting to make sense but I thought it would be great to get the other side’s perspective. My boyfriend’s picture should be in the dictionary as the definition of Alpha Male. A New Yorker by birth, he is a military officer who has spent his entire career in Special Operations. He describes himself as a “superior genetic specimen combining an iron physique, razor sharp wit and rakish good looks.” Puh-lease..Did I mention he was modest? I love him anyway, he’s so funny. I asked him to dig deep, to call upon his powers of intelligence, creativity, and originality and share some of his unprecedented insight into why men love high heels. To his credit, he took some time and articulated these thoughts to me. “I would think it’s because certain clothing in addition to expressing style can accentuate better features or hide flaws. Women who wear heels appear taller and thus have the appearance of being skinnier because her weight is distributed along a longer surface area. I read once Arnold Schwarzenegger used to wear low cut swim trunks during the Mr. Olympia competitions because even though he was fatless (is that a word?) he had a large mid-section that made him look as if he had love handles when he wore normal cut suit. Additionally, being a raised heel position (as he stumbles around our living room on his tippy toes) you can feel the butt muscles being tightened and your chest being pushed outward.” Tight butts and pushed out boobs drawing the sexual interest of males? I must have been an idiot to think I had to ask that question. So, I have a Kettlebell training class about to begin and thus we have come to the end of our journey. I remember from six grade science class that the last steps of the scientific method of analysis is to draw conclusions and communicate your results. So hear it is…wait for it..dramatic pause for effect.. the conclusion is people love high heels because they help a women feel more sexy and better about herself. In the end isn’t that really what life is about projecting confidence, rocking your femininity feeling good about who you are. High Heels Reason #4 of why it’s awesome to be a woman. Diana Renee www.embodypolefitness.com


Annemarie Davies

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