Bunions suck. They hurt, they make finding shoes a challenge and they are ugly! Some bunions are hereditary, however, I got mine from high heels. Working in retail, 12 hour days in high heels. I remember days I would take off my shoes after work and see two swollen feet twice their size. The pain was excruciating. No one prepares you for that. Throbbing feet, bunions, calluses, aching back. Those descriptions aren’t in the employee handbook dress code section. Neither is the section about women having the right to wear flats but it is verbally suggested you not.
I will be the first to admit, women do look better in high heels than flats. High heels, demand attention and, when worn in the workplace, symbolize a smart, well-educated woman. Flats fall, well, flat on the “professionalism” spectrum. But then, why don’t men need to wear high heels…hmm. Never thought of it that way. I enjoy getting dressed up for work. I really do. Putting on that suit makes me feel like I am powerful. The shoes are a finishing touch of a polished look. But putting on flats, that’s for the weekend, in your leisure wear and no makeup.
I overheard one of my male colleagues say to a female coworker, (in regards to women wearing high heels and being in pain), “I don’t get that. You should be able to wear flats.” Let me make this clear, we are allowed, absolutely, but, once again, it is not recommended, if you want to be perceived in a certain way that is. And I do.
I know what you are saying, “that’s your problem then.” And you are partially right. Ultimately, this is my choice. If I wish to remain under the radar, there are things I can do to remain there. I however want more. I strive to move up the corporate ladder. I am not going to get there in penny loafers. Us women have enough stacked against us. What can we do? What can I do? Small, baby step changes. A little bit here, and a little bit there. Perception will not change overnight, but with the courage to change the mindset, slowly but surely, we might actually rewire aged thinking, including mine.
Oh, and for an interesting article, read more here about the woman sent home for not wearing high heels to work.