This past weekend, I worked at a hotel for a convention for a Jewish teenage organization. I thought it would be fun and interesting to utilize some of the ideas we learned in my Femism+Health+Media class and put them into action.
“I’m not sure”
“They make my legs look good”
“They make me taller”
These were some of the answers I got when I asked a group of teenage high school girls this past weekend why they wear high heels. None of them mentioned that high heels tend to leave women vulnerable to men and when I commented that high heels are designed in part to force a woman to need a man for support, they didn’t think much of it.
Now I do have to commend some of these girls; they managed to teeter 6 inches above the ground without any help for most the evening, and I even saw of two of them run around the lobby at full speed without tripping once.
I fully understand the appeal of some women to wear heels, especially those girls who want to appear a little taller. With height comes respect, power, and attention. Even a 16 year old realizes that.
But those qualities are best suited in a workplace environment, not in a relaxed setting of about 200 high school aged kids. The desire for respect and attention has noting to do with survival in the labor force, rather it has solely to do with sex appeal. As one 16 year old girl in a more modest 2 inch heels remarked to me “It is sad how teenagers can’t act like kids anymore. Everyone wants to look like an adult”.
I’m not arguing that women should not wear heels, nor am I saying that teenagers should not wear heels either. Rather, I’m merely trying to highlight the parts of our culture that promote sexualization over respect. That is what needs to change.
I hope I helped some students better understand the way they dress; and that they choose their outfits from beyond what they see in “seventeen magazine.”