To Totter or Not to Totter, That Is the Question ...

31/05/2016 11:55

It's very rare that I feel driven to comment on a news item. However, the furore that has been erupting recently in the UK press about 'heel-gate' and the various and many opinions on the insistence of women wearing high heels in the office, has spurred me to take to my keyboard.

I run a programme, and have written a book, called The High-heeled Leader, so you would be forgiven for assuming that I am in the 'heels are essential' camp.

No, I am not.

Neither am I in the 'no heels at all, flats all the way' camp.

The camp I am in is the 'whatever a woman chooses to do, for herself, is fine by me'. A camp that I am aware I may be the only inhabitant - or at least one of very few.

I was reading this morning that 'Flats are the new feminism', the way young women of today are determined not to dress according to 'men's fantasies of female stereotypes'. Really?

This whole tirade via the media reminds me of similar past 'debates'.

Like the one about working mothers. Women who chose to return to work after their child had been born were berated by those who chose to stay at home. Women who chose to stay at home were berated by those who chose to return to work.

Like the one about 'size'. Women who chose to stay 'curvy' were berated by those who chose to exercise to a skinny size and deny themselves food. Women who chose to exercise and eat little were berated by those who chose to ditch the diets and love themselves as they were.

There have been others.

Do you recognise a theme here?

There is nothing 'feminist' in any of the above examples. In fact, what's on show here is the very opposite of feminism. It is women against women, not women for women.

I have been a personal brand consultant, amongst many other things, for the last 27 years. Have I dictated to my clients over the years that they must wear make-up and must wear heels? No!

The conversations I have had with my clients have been around empowering them to step into their natural and inner beauty, whatever that looks like for them. If a woman has never worn make-up and doesn't want to, that's fine. If a woman loves wearing make-up, that's fine too. If a woman hates wearing heels, that's fine. If a woman loves wearing heels, that's fine too.

In fact, I don't care what age or dress size you are. I don't care what your profession is. I don't care if you never want to look a lipstick in the face and loathe any shoe that has a heel more than ¼" in height.

What I do care about is that every woman recognises her beauty, regardless of anything. And however she puts herself together she does it for herself, and herself alone. Not because her partner wants it, not because her boss expects it and not because the media dictates it.

Be honest, have you ever been 'pleased' when a friend puts on weight? Ok, I'm sure you haven't, but I bet you know women who have been.

Do you know women who put down other women?

Do you know women who are jealous of other women?

Do you know women who have bullied other women?

Do you know women who have kept other women 'down' in companies, rather than encouraging their promotion and career?

Do know women who bitch about other women?

Yes, there are men who put down women and have certain views of how we should 'look'. But the real problem here is women not supporting other women.

It's a phenomenon that has been around for many a year, and it's one I hate. And it all comes down to lack of self-belief and confidence. If you feel really good about yourself then there is no need to feel threatened by another woman.

This woman-on-woman hate has to stop. Celebrate women who wear 6" heels (for their courage and ability to walk in them if nothing else!), celebrate women who wear flats every day, celebrate women who don't leave the house without make-up, celebrate women who never have, and never will, wear make-up, celebrate women who are skinny, celebrate women who are a size 24 and upwards.

As a woman in the world, just celebrate women - that's true feminism.

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