The name Nicola Thorp, does it ring a bell?
It’s a name that should, since it could completely remove the enforcement of high heels in the workplace.
Heels, as all young women will understand, can reduce feet to great pain after prolonged wear. This is proved particularly during a ‘girls night out’, when many of us have witnessed the necessary removal of these sources of agony.
Although heels can be deemed more elegant and perhaps even more feminine than flats, this does not dismiss the fact that they are impractical. This is especially true within the workplace, as a typical work environment offers its employees a daily eight-hour shift. Would you be able to withstand wearing high heels in the office? Nicola Thorp, a 27-year-old receptionist, most certainly did not desire to, and shouldn’t have to, and neither should you.
On Thorp’s first day at PwC in December she was immediately dismissed purely because of her flat shoes, the company refused to pay her, and she was told to purchase a pair of two-four inch heels – petty some might say? When told to do so, Nicola was in the presence of a male colleague and pointed out that he, unsurprisingly, was in flat shoes, leading to her argument that she was being discriminated against because of her gender.
Thorp’s recognition of the continually expanding gender gap in British law led her to fight against the obsolete idea of a ‘formal’ uniform: an unspoken law which insists women wear high heels and appropriate dress attire. Thorp has since set up a petition proposing that the practice be made illegal, successfully gaining over 139,000 signatures as recorded by Look Magazine. Therefore, Thorp has passed the minimum number of signatures for the issue to be debated in Parliament.
The enforcement of high heels is undoubtedly an absurd practice. Reverting back to the fairly extreme feminist idea that bras were typically known for pleasuring men as opposed to women, are heels another way of doing so? 400 feminists, who had travelled from all over the USA, gathered on the Atlantic City boardwalk in 1968, directly and purposefully outside the Miss America Pageant. Stemming from the idea of “bra-burning”, a series of stereotypical feminine products were then thrown into a “Freedom Trash Can”, these including most notably girdles, corsets, and indeed bras, appropriately named “instruments of female torture”. Women chose to go braless to make a stand against what they viewed as male desires. Therefore, can’t the illogical practice of requiring high heels hence be seen as the need of men to glamorise female employees?
Flats can therefore be deemed the lesser of two evils offering comfort yet, when keeping with the appropriate style, still remaining within the constraints of what is deemed as a ‘formal’ uniform.
Come on, ladies – let’s make a stand for ourselves. Let’s make flats the new heels.
For a more personal take on this issue check out the Features article this week!