After sore toes, tripping down stairs and falling over every five steps, I’m not sure how so many women do it.
I heard perks of longer legs, a perter backside and added height but none of those, in my opinion, outweighed the discomfort.
I’m talking of course, about high heels.
After Blackpool woman and London receptionist Nicola Thorp was sent home from work without pay for not adhering to the fashion choice, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and spent a working day (eight hours) sporting a heel.
The 27-year-old former Arnold School student arrived on the first day of her new job at PwC’s outsourced reception firm Portico only to be told go out and buy a pair of heels or go home.
Nicola was given a list of demands including being told she must wear heels between two and four inches and being given an ‘acceptable shade’ list of makeups to wear.
She rightly refused and was sent home without being paid a penny under a cloud of laughter for standing up for herself and saying such requests were discriminatory.
A spokeswoman for PwC said it would be speaking to Portico about its policy and PwC reiterated it was not a policy they shared. However, policy or no policy, an organisation making this request of a woman is beyond archaic.
And after my experience in a pair of borrowed size 8 peep-toe heels (as I’m told these shoes were), I can’t imagine why anyone would want to subject themselves to that for eight hours a day.
Firstly they were difficult to get into. I thought I wasn’t too bad in walking in them before a female colleague said: “You don’t have to walk like a giraffe you know, you can bend your legs”. Luckily she didn’t see my attempts of going down two flights of stairs to the toilet. I ended up fearing for my life halfway down and using the hand rails to almost jump down several steps at once.
By mid-afternoon I could feel my legs aching and the loss of feeling in my toes.
I thought it was because the shoes were too small but apparently that’s just what wearing heels feels like.
I’ll admit that while I was sitting at my desk I took some light relief by half slipping them off to let some blood run into my feet again before braving the next trip to the water cooler.
Yes they did make me taller and at five foot eight I need all the help I can get, but it wasn’t worth it.
Responding to the incident, Portico issued a statement saying: “In line with industry standard practice, we have personal appearance guidelines across many of our corporate locations”.
Well I can tell you almost for certain that whoever came up with these guidelines had never worn heels for a working day.
The statement continues: “These policies ensure staff are dressed consistently and include recommendations for appropriate style of footwear for the role.”
Having seen the pictures of Nicola, her work attire is smart, professional and with flat shoes, practical. I’m a firm believer that happy staff work harder and I certainly wasn’t happy that my feet felt like they were falling off.
The story, which broke earlier this month, sparked outrage, not only amongst women of course but the thousands who could see through the company’s sexist ‘guidelines’.
Nicola has since set up a petition calling for it to be made illegal to force women to wear high heels at work. Unsurprisingly it has already been signed by more than 139,000 people.
This was a policy that many wouldn’t have been aware of and praise should be heaped on Nicola for bringing it to the nation’s attention.
I imagine any companies who enforced these same ‘guidelines’ may have had a subtle review of what they ask their female employees to wear in the future after the backlash Portico received.
I spent one day in heels in an attempt to walk in Nicola’s shoes but it’s obvious she’s walked much further.