Employers must stop forcing women to wear high heels

New research findings

Scientists are calling for more to be done to stop employers forcing women to wear high heels as they are bad for health, according to a review of scientific studies into the shoes.

The research carried out at the University of Aberdeen reviewed scientific studies and found that wearing high heels increases a women’s attractiveness to men but uncovered ‘huge amounts of evidence’ that wearing the shoes increases the risk of developing musculoskeletal conditions and increases the chance of personal injury.

Earlier this year the UK government rejected calls for a ban on enforced high heel wear after a receptionist launched a campaign after being sent home for refusing to wear heels.

Nicola Thorp arrived at PwC in flat shoes to work as temp only to be told she had to wear at least a 2-4in heel and sent home without pay.

She launched a petition that attracted more than 152,400 asking for it to be made illegal for companies to make women wear high heels for their jobs.

Following the petition ministers said the existing laws were adequate to deal with discrimination.

Dr Max Barnish, who led the research, said: ‘From our review it is clear that despite the huge amount of evidence showing heels are bad for individuals’ health, there are complex social and cultural reasons that make high heel wearing attractive.

‘We feel the UK Government should follow the lead of other authorities who have introduced specific laws to tackle this practice rather than simply relying on existing legislation which has left the situation in this country uncertain and open to misinterpretation.

‘Also, this matter has in the UK been so far addressed through UK-wide equality laws. However, there may be scope for the devolved nations of the UK such as Scotland to consider introducing further measures under devolved health legislative powers.’


Dr Heather Morgan, a lecturer at the university added: ‘Of course we are not trying to tell anyone that they should or shouldn’t wear high heels, but we hope this review will inform wearers to help them weigh up the health risks with social benefits, as well as putting pressure on lawmakers to toughen up legislation so that no-one is forced against their will to wear them in the workplace or in licensed public social venues,’ she said.

‘However, expectations are not always explicit and some may feel forced even if the law protects them.’

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