The Americas

Push to ban mandatory high heels for working women grows

She Said He Said: London receptionist says she was sent home without pay for not wearing heels to work

 

On the heels of the British parliament's move this month to prohibit forcing women to wear high heels at work, some Canadian officials are making strides in enacting similar legislation.

Last week, Andrew Weaver, leader of the Green Party in the country’s westernmost province of British Columbia (B.C.) introduced a bill in the legislature seeking to amend the Workers Compensation Act to “ensure that employers do not set varying footwear requirements for their employees based on gender, gender expression or gender identity.”

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Weaver told local reporters he was shocked to learn that numerous bars and restaurants in B.C. still had protocols mandating females wear high heels, inspiring him to push for a change. The bill has generated broad support from other political leaders, including Premier Christie Clark who called such a policy “old-fashioned” and “unacceptable.”

However, leaders in the U.K. and Canada aren’t the only ones shedding light on the hot-button issue. In January, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power added her own blistering thoughts.

“The next petition,” she wrote on Twitter, “should be one requiring men to wear high heels for a 9 hour shift before they insist women do.”

And while there's no doubt that high heels can indeed be uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous – causing bunions, spurs, stress fractures, bruises and arthritis – there is growing concern in the medical community that they can cause cancer too.

According to USC Professor of Medicine Dr. David Agus, the chronic discomfort produces low-level inflammation in the body, and that inflammation could lay the foundation for serious diseases like cancer.