Modern high heels were brought to Europe by emissaries of Shāh Abbās I of Persia in the early 17th century.[7] Men wore them to imply their upper-class status; only someone who did not have to work could afford, both financially and practically, to wear such extravagant shoes. Royalty such as King Louis XIV wore heels to impart status. As the shoes caught on, and other members of society began donning high heels, elite members ordered their heels to be made even higher to distinguish themselves from lower classes.[8] Authorities even began regulating the length of a high heel's point according to social rank. Klaus Carl includes these lengths in his book Shoes: "½ inch for commoners, 1 inch for the bourgeois, 1 and ½ inches for knights, 2 inches for nobles, and 2 and ½ inches for princes."”[9] As women took to appropriating this style, the heels’ width changed in another fundamental way. Men wore thick heels, while women wore skinny ones. Then, when Enlightenment ideals such as science, nature, and logic took hold of many European societies, men gradually stopped wearing heels.[8] After the French Revolution in the late 1780s, heels, femininity, and superficiality all became intertwined.[3] In this way, heels became much more associated with a woman's supposed sense of impracticality and extravagance.
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In the UK in 2016 temporary receptionist Nicola Thorp was sent home unpaid after she refused to follow the dress code of firm Portico. Thorp launched an online petition calling for the UK government to "make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work".[37] Two parliamentary committees in January 2017 decided that Portico had broken the law; by this time the company had already changed its terms of employment.[38][39] The petition was rejected by the government in April 2017 as they stated that existing legislation was "adequate".[40] Existing legislation allows women to be required to wear high heels, but only if it is considered a job requirement and men in the same job are required to dress to an "equivalent level of smartness".[41]

Further research reveals that another possible consequence of wearing high heels is an increase of pressure in one's veins. Experiments have proven that the higher the heel, the "higher [the] venous pressure in the leg." This means that after repeated use of high heels, varicose veins and other undesirable symptoms are much more likely to appear in the legs.[18] Other research supports these two claims when arguing that wearing high heels can lead to numerous long term effects, including accidental trauma to multiple areas of the body.[4]


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