Feminism and High Heels

My favorite summer heels, by Audrey Brooke.

I was wearing these shoes the other day and someone commented: 

'Knowing everything you stand for with women's rights and gender equality, why do you wear shoes like that!?'

I can see it both ways - very high heels that look like too much effort, or heels that are incredibly awesome.  I suppose it depends on whether you see fashion as a means for expression or restriction.  

I think about my love for fashion vs. my passion for feminism quite a lot actually.  I still argue that as a whole, women are valued much more for their bodies than their minds.  It's not my job to dress differently just because closed minded idiots cannot appreciate my value as an intellectual, but the fact of the matter is that the right outfit gives women a great deal of power in the eyes of others.  Depending on what you do with this information, it can be used for good or for evil.  An article in Ms. Magazine points out: 

'If fashion has been used to introduce new ways of expressing womanhood, it has also been a tether that keeps women’s social, economic and political opportunities permanently attached to their appearances.'

Sometimes, it seems like a lose lose situation, and there are moments when I definitely feel like I'm buying into a forced idea of femininity.  But I do think I can be beautiful and feel good about my body without exploiting it.  I've spent a decent amount of time reflecting on why I do certain things that I had never questioned before.  Why do I wear makeup?  Why do I wear sky high heels?  Why do I dye my hair?  And I've come to find that I hate wearing makeup, and only did it because I felt like I 'had' to, so I've stopped wearing it regularly.  I love dying my hair (it's been about every color under the sun at this point), so I'll continue.  And I love beautiful clothing, so I'll continue buying it (from ethical sources of course!).  

'Aesthetics aren't the enemy of feminism; social codes that require women to meet certain aesthetic principles, and to be constantly putting in time, effort and money in the service of femininity, are the enemy. Fight the system, not the people who do their best to operate in it, or, God forbid, take a little pleasure where they can find it. Gendered fashion requirements are bad. Enjoying the self-expression and aesthetic appeal of clothing? Girl, go ahead and enjoy your new shoes.' -The Feminist Case for Fashion Week

So my answer is this:  I wear these shoes because they make me feel good.  And that's enough for me.

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