The height of fashion
If, like myself, you have recently suspected that women are growing taller these days, and wondered which dietary supplements are contributing to this spurt in growth, then be assured – this is no magical twist in evolutionary development, it is simply the current obsession with high-heeled shoes. This trend, like many before it, shows that some people are willing to suffer any amount of pain or discomfort, and even jeopardise their health, in the name of fashion.
It may be a cliché, but women especially are quite happy to admit that they are ‘slaves to fashion’. If we look a long way back in time, there was a period when tiny waists were to die for – and many women nearly did! They wore corsets so tight that they displaced internal organs and even cracked their ribs. Men were not immune to paying the price for vanity either. In seventeenth-century Europe, the popular male practice of using white face powder to give the pale, interesting look could be rather dangerous, as the early powders contained arsenic!
One of more recent major fashion health hazards is the six-inch heels made popular by celebrities and catwalk models the world over, despite various public tumbles. It’s certainly true that the extra height is slimming and glamorous, and the high heels make even the dumpiest person’s feet look quite stunning. What is a problem, however, is when the wearers of such footwear attempt to actually move! Apart from the likelihood of falling over and twisting an ankle, the possible damage to the body is significant. It goes without saying that the feet can be badly affected – resulting later in life in distorted toes and bunions – but the problems can also extend to the whole skeleton, as the posture the wearer has to adopt to stay upright can cause severe back problems. Add to this the fact that the wearer may also be carrying a fashionably big bag over one shoulder, and it’s clear that the poor vertebrae don’t really stand a chance.
There is one advantage to the fashion for such high heels. Social interaction is obviously restricted, as most wearers can do little more than stand in the same place or sit. This allows the shorter, flatter-footed amongst us to run rings round them at parties.