Are High Heels the Result of Evolution?

| Nov 25, 2013

heels3Crossdressers love their high heels. In a recent poll on Sister House, 50% of crossdressers owned 11 pairs of heels or more with one girl coming in at 113 pairs (yes, Payless shopped there J) But is there a reason why we have this love affair with heels. New research offers an unexpected explanation for their allure — one that has nothing to do with increased height.

Fashions in dress come and go, but the high-heeled shoe has stayed in style for many generations, and shows no sign of fading away. It’s the high-heeled shoe, which first became a fashion statement in 16th-century France, and has been a part of the modern woman’s wardrobe since the mid-19th century. Actually, they copied it from men and now it’s here to stay.

What actually brought heels back for women? Pornography.  Mid-nineteenth century pornographers began posing female nudes in high heels, and the rest is history (this, by the way, is exactly what happened with cheerleading, originally exclusively for men).

Ask a woman why she endures the awkwardness and discomfort, and she’ll probably respond, “They make me look, and feel, more attractive.” Newly published research suggests this perception is accurate, but perhaps not for the reason you’d expect.

It’s not the artificially increased height that turns heads. Rather, it’s how such footwear changes the mechanics of a woman’s gait. “High heels may exaggerate the sex-specific aspects of the female walk,” a University of Portsmouth research team reports. They argue the enduring popularity of high-heeled shoes suggests their fundamental appeal stems from a deeper impulse as this short video demonstrates.

To test whether walking in high heels increases one’s femininity and attractiveness, the team conducted two experiments using a point-light display. Participants (15 men and 15 women) viewed dotted outlines of 12 women as they walked for a total of four minutes apiece—two minutes in high-heeled shoes, and two minutes wearing flats.

They were then asked to rate how attractive they found the figures.

“For all walkers, the attractiveness score was higher in the heels condition than in the flat condition,” the researchers report. Both males and females judged the women wearing high heels to be more attractive than those who wore flat shoes.

In the second experiment, 120 participants (82 women and 38 men) watched the same dotted-outline footage and were asked to judge whether each of the models was male or female. (As noted earlier, all were, in fact, women.) While wearing flats, 28 percent of the women were incorrectly classified as men; among those wearing heels, that number went down to 17 percent.

Why? The researchers report that, while wearing high-heeled shoes, the women “walked in a fashion more characteristic of female gait.” Specifically, “walkers in high heels took smaller, more frequent steps,” and this reduction in the length of their stride was accompanied by “increased rotation and tilt of the hips.”

In other words, high heels exaggerate the differences in the ways men and women walk, making the wearer appear more feminine. This can happen on either a conscious or an unconscious level, but this evidence suggests the dynamic is real, and transcends fashion fads.

Some studies show that high heels are clearly bad but who cares. Women clearly love them. Here are some ways in which the anatomy of the body changes due to the wearing of heels. Long term wearing of heels can have a negative effect but most of us would view these changes as very positive in nature, particularly in the way they help to create a feminine silhouette.

But then other studies find that women who wear high heels not only have better toned legs, but they also have better, more pleasurable sex. Do you really need another reason to go shoe shopping.

According to a study conducted by Italian scientist Dr. Maria Cerruto, they looked at over 50 women, and found that those who wore shoes at a 15 degree angle from the ground (about two inches) had more relaxed muscles than women who did not wear inclined shoes.  Think of it like doing pelvic exercises, except instead of feeling goofy while you lay on your carpet and hump the air, you’re just out on the town, looking good and being fashionable.

So the next time your SO tries to protest a new hot heel purchase, remind her that you’re not the only one this benefits.

Finally, how high is too high?

“I think there’s a limit, though. Anything over four-and-a-half inches is just too much. You can’t walk properly; it’s no longer elegant.” (Yes, I know some of you love those 5 inches and up shoes)

rs_highheelsBut in fact, even four-and half inches is too high to be healthy. A limited height — practical — is the key. “Moderately high heels,” Dr Cerruto, a urologist at the University of Verona, Italy, calls them.

Sabrina Saudelli, a Rome beautician says,”It makes sense that heels are good for abdominal and pelvic muscles … to counter the lean forward, you tighten the abdominal muscles and push the pelvis under.”

An advocate for wearing heels in general, Saudelli claims “a small heel is actually good for the posture, much better than ballerina flats.” But truly high heels, and especially a wobbly stiletto, is bad for the back and a risk for twisted ankles.

“Once you go over three inches regularly,” she adds, “your posture and back are going to suffer.”

So ladies, for all their sex appeal, stilettos, sadly, don’t count. Still, there are many beautiful shoes. Here in Merida, ladies of all ages wear them with everything from jeans to evening gowns. They are the ultimate fashion statement. Come visit our Shoe Boutique at Sister House and see for yourself.

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Category: Fashion, Style

About Tasi Zuriack: Tasi is transgendered, married, and a lifelong crossdresser. She’s the founder of the Ladies of the Blue Ridge transgender group in Roanoke VA, a prolific writer, commentator and blogger including fashion articles for Tri-Ess, TG Reporter, Repartee, and Pretty T-Girls magazine. Tasi currently resides in Merida, (Yucatan) Mexico. Her new website, Sister House and her blog, the Fashionable TG Woman are dedicated to fashion and style for the transgendered woman. Please visit her. Tasi’s new book, "Top Ten Fashion Mistakes By Crossdressers and How To Fix Them" is available on Amazon or on her site free to subscribers.

Comments (4)

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  1. Elayne says:

    I was always under the impression that High Heels are a product of the reign of King Henry the 8th. King Henry was a very large man over 300lbs and was also taller than most. He was so large that having sex in a laying down position was almost impossible. Most of the time his sexual encounters were standing up. Most women being shorter than he. Good old king Henry had the kindgoms cobbler make special shoes with high heels to bring the woman up to the proper height for his pleasure. thus started the High heel concept wich later became the fasion statement of today. Elayne

  2. Abbey52 says:


    You always have such interesting things to write about.

  3. Tasi Zuriack says:

    Thank you Abbey. There’s lots more over on Sister House and my blog (links in bio) Elayne – if you click the first link in the article (high-heeled shoe), it gives you a complete history of the high-heeled shoe. It’s actually pretty interesting.

  4. Abbey52 says:

    Thank you for the information Tari.

    I plan to visit Sister House.

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