In Defence of High Heels

Now heels can cause cancer?

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Words by Leona McDaid
July 27th, 2016

The maven46 office chatter can vary dramatically from hour to hour. One minute we’re discussing the Brexit, the next holiday hair and this week the high heel debate rose from the ashes. To put the discussion into context, many of the maven46 team are firm believers in the trainer. They are without question the uniform de riguer in our office and we are not alone. The sneaker spike has long escaped its original street style status and has now become a wardrobe staple for even the most conservative of dressers. Meaning huge profits for athleisure brands issuing and reissuing styles to feed the unflagging appetite of the style (and comfort) seeking masses.

Yet it now seems the high heel is finally having its moment after years in the wilderness. The heel is officially back. And if you need proof, look back at the awash of heels worn by street style stars at the AW16 fashion weeks. Those standing out from the crowd were doing so in a literal sense. And now that designers are stepping up, check out the AW16 collections from Gucci, Simone Rocha and Miu Miu amongst others, it looks like AW16 will be the season where the heel makes a comeback.

“High Heels Get Bad Press

However, despite the backing of world leading designers, it seems that high heels not only cause joint damage but can in fact cause cancer. This is according to new research from leading cancer specialist Dr. David Agus, a professor of medicine at the University of Southern California.  The heel just can’t escape the bad press.

Still, this latest news will not put me off coveting the exquisite heels that the forthcoming season has to offer. In actual fact, it sometimes feels like I’ve been defending my right to wear heels (of the higher variety) for a lifetime. As a teen, my mother and sisters would question my high heel choices. They just didn’t get it, why bother? It is bizarre that out of a family with four women, I was the only one that somehow fell foul to the heel.

You see, I’m old enough to have seen the first airing of Sex and the City’s a “A Woman’s Right to Shoes.” Granted, I was a student all those years ago, but the message somehow resonated with me. Heels might not be the most practical of purchases. They can be awkward if longer journeys are required, but they can also have a transformative effect on any outfit and can boost your confidence. The workmanship of a great heel should be considered a work of art yet they, and the women that wear them, can be subject to ridicule.

Nothing makes a statement like a jaw dropping heel, it has the power to command a presence like no-other accessory. Since then, there has been times when I’ve been stopped on the street by women and men (on occasion, straight) to compliment me on my choice of heel. A pair of outrageous neon strappy Manolo Blahnik stilettos I picked up on honeymoon for just $200 always get a reaction.

Life Stages Through Shoes

Now in my thirties, I believe that many of the heels I cherish represent certain points in my life. My first job was in politics and I still remember the reaction to my green leather Mary Jane platforms which stood out seamlessly in a sea of grey suits.

It is fascinating to witness the reaction that UK Prime Minister Theresa May now gets when she steps out in her favourite leopard print court heels. Perhaps the heel really is a subtle arsenal to have at your disposal when walking the corridors of power. It can show intent, however, detractors may argue that it can also distract.

It still remains that learning to walk in heels is very often a rite of passage for young women and in many cultures is symbolic of entering womanhood. Little girls often emulate their mothers by wearing heels, very often enjoying the click click sound that epitomises a woman in control and sure of herself. When a woman puts on her heels she means business and contrary to popular belief, the heel is something women wear for themselves. None the less, perhaps in years to come, we’ll look back at the heel as the 21st century equivalent of the corset. For now, at least, I’ll continue to wear the heel in the belief that it can add to your life despite the health risks but perhaps you’ll disagree and so the heel debate continues…

Click to shop some of my favourites to step into next season below