The Psychological Effects of High Heels on Women

by Holly Thompson

High heeled shoes are extremely popular among women. Heels are regularly worm when strutting down a fashion catwalk, in the office or even when popping down to the grocery store. Aesthetically they make women's legs look longer and fit into existing fashion trends, though there are also psychological reasons behind the popularity of the high heel.

Increased leg Length

When women wear high heels they are creating an optical illusion that makes their legs look longer. According to research undertaken by Wroclaw university in Portland, women are considered more attractive when their leg length is 5 percent longer than their torso. This can be achieved through wearing high heels, so women may subconsciously wear them to look more attractive and appeal to men.

Appearing Younger

A high heel raises the angle of a woman's buttocks by 30 to 40 degrees. This higher behind makes women look younger and appeals more to men's visual preferences. Heels subconsciously make women look younger and healthier and therefore more desirable as a mate. It is therefore commonplace to find heels worn in industries where sexuality is a commodity, including pornography, stripping and even in beauty pageants.

Walking Tall

Heels don't only have a psychological impact on men, but on women as well. Shorter women find the added length they get from wearing heels can help them feel more confident about their height. This is especially true when they want to come across as authoritative in the workplace or don't want to feel short when they go out with their friends.

Sexist Culture

Many feminists have criticised the wearing of high heels, arguing that they have a negative effect on women. Heels cause many podiatry issues, so women are effectively putting their health at risk for the sake of appearing more sexually attractive. There are some feminists who believe the repression of women from heels runs deeper than that, and say women are controlled by heels because it makes them less able to run away from danger.

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About the Author

Based just outside London, Holly Thompson has been writing news and features since 2008. She reported for the award-winning "Surrey Mirror" for two years during which she sourced stories for "The Sun." Thompson was the winner of the Sheffield Star prize for outstanding writing in 2008. She holds a first-class Bachelor of Arts in journalism studies from the University of Sheffield.