The intricate and complex history of high heels has led to a variety of cultural thoughts and lens through which people view them today. Firstly, it is very exclusively gendered in the sense that few men wear high heels in present times. Secondly, magazines like Playboy, as well as other media sources portraying women in a sexual way, often do so using high heels. Paul Morris, a psychology researcher at the University of Portsmouth, argues that high heels accentuate "sex specific aspects of female gait", artificially increasing a woman's femininity. Respectively, the arching of a woman's back facilitated by wearing high heels signals a woman's willingness to be courted by a man. Keeping this sexual undercurrent in mind, heels are considered fashionable for women in most cases. It could be semi-formal with a "button down silk blouse…jeans and high heels." Or, it could be formal with a dress or pants suit. Finally, 20th and 21st century cultural values have dictated that high heels are the norm in professional settings for a woman. Some researchers argue that high heels have even become part of the female workplace uniform, and operate in a much larger and complex set of display rules. High heels are considered to pose a dilemma to women as they bring them psychosexual benefits but are detrimental to their health. The 21st century has introduced a broad spectrum and variety of styles, ranging from height and width of heel, to design and color of the shoe.
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. 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.
In a 2016 study from the Sahmyook University in Korea, researchers wanted to investigate the effects of high heels on the activation of muscles in the cervical and lumbar portions of the spine which refers to the neck and lower back. Thirteen women were recruited to walk down a walkway in three different testing conditions: barefoot, in 4 cm heels and in 10 cm heels. Surface electrodes were placed on the muscle mass of the women’s spines as well as their feet to measure the electrical activity of muscles at different points of movement. The results of the study indicated an increase in both cervical and lumbar muscle activation as heel height increased. The cervical spine, the neck, assists in maintaining head stability and postural control in the body. The usage of high heels shifts the body’s center of mass which forces the spine to adjust itself in order to maintain balance. The researchers mentioned that over time these results would increase local muscle fatigue that could lead to muscle swelling, decreased muscle movement and even tissue deformation.
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With the 1900s bringing two devastating world wars, many countries set wartime regulations for rationing almost all aspects of life. This included materials previously used for making heels, such as silk, rubber, or leather; these began to be replaced with cork and wooden soles. Another one of the numerous outcomes of these wars was an increase in international relations, and a more proliferate sharing of fashion through photography and films, which helped spread high heel fashion as well. Examples of this were the brown and white pumps with cutouts or ankle straps combined with an open toe. Their practicality yet professional look appealed to the new, fast-paced lifestyle of many women.
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Whether you're looking to create a classy look for a big event or add some seriously sexy style to your next night out, every girl needs a great pair of heels - or a whole closet full of them! Here at GoJane, we think that a fashionista can never have enough pairs of high heels, but you don't need to go broke while adding to your collection. We're always updating our inventory to include the latest styles and hottest colors that you normally only find from designer brands, but our prices are so low, you can afford to buy a new dress to match.
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