Forget the fashion for flat shoes, high heels empower short women like me

51 per cent of women prefer flats, but heels are still vital to many

Style

04 Oct 2016

Being short is a pain. I know this because I’m 5ft 1 inch – which doesn’t make me the smallest person on earth, but short enough to know the annoyance of not being able to reach for things. Whether it’s the handles on the tube (cough, give me a badge, cough), or a teabag in the cupboard, everything feels a stretch too far. On Saturday, I struggled to get served at a bar – all because nobody could see me. After all, my eye level is another person’s armpit.

God bless, heels. The one invention that has propelled me to dizzying heights. I knew I’d found my salvation aged eight when I stumbled on a pair in the Harrods’ kids section. When my mum refused to buy them – ‘Eight-year-olds don’t wear heels, Charlotte!’, she said – I cried all the way home. I looked like the store’s most spoilt child. No easy achievement, but I was, in fact, the most sensible, for I knew that height could help me.

It’s not just the fact I can now ride Nemesis at Thorpe Park that makes me love heels, or that no one pats me on the head any more (true story), but it’s the aesthetic appeal. Like, lipstick, they can transform the most casual of outfit; they make figures fabulous! And why women want to give them up, I’ll never understand, but it’s happening. New research shows that heels are sharply going out of fashion – with 51 per cent of women opting for flats instead.

This decline has been in motion for some time and I call it the ‘trainer apocalypse’. It now means if I now want to go out for drinks, everyone looks like Anneka Rice. And I like Anneka Rice, but not her trainers (in the 90s at least). Frankly, I’m alarmed by the current trend that says: ‘Look like your gym teacher’. How has that become OK?

Like the velcro-straps on a Nike shoe, the reasons for the trainer apocalypse are multi-fold. I partially blame the celebrity trendsetters such as my former sole sister, Victoria Beckham, who recently decided heels are so 2015. Then they became a symbol of corporate sexism after the well-publicised story of a PwC receptionist, forced to wear them to work. While I agreed with her that heels shouldn’t be compulsory, I have since felt concerned that as I go through the streets, people might think I’m like Ginger from Black Beauty – living a life of clopping and oppression.

The strange thing is that heels have been my most empowering fashion items. Because of unfair, but real evidence that taller people get better salaries (every inch above average height is thought to be worth more than $789 per year), if you can buy artificial height, why the hell not? I understand why many women want to abandon pointy shoes. Flats are often more comfortable, but for some of us there is a comfort to additional height. For me, it is a way of blending in. Heels are important; let’s not kick them to the ground.


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