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An Essay Plan on the History of High Heels Essay

The aim in this essay plan is to identify classes and gender of high heel shoes. It also aims to construct in cultural terms why high heels has developed and remained a paramount accessory, its reasons why high heels shoes were made, and its representation in both gender. I also intend to frame how man perceives high heels that were worn by woman from the 17th century. Finally, I would present the evolution of high heels as it changes from time to time. Introduction During the late sixteenth century, in Western Europe the appearance of footwear has been established by June Swann’s meticulous research.

However, a crucial question surfaced after several improvements were added to the high-heeled shoes. Why do high heels emerge as an item of fashion at that time? I shall also give the complex range of culture from which high heels derived. The discussion on the general impact that high heels have in identity, class and gender shall be explained. The high heels had become a symbol of wealth, style and status worn by men, women and children, of the upper classes. Europeans became interested in these cultures for a range political, social and commercial reason.

I shall be using “Shoes”, a book written by Giorgio Riello and Peter McNeil. In 1533, it was the wedding of Italian born Catherine de Medici with the Duke of Orleans in France that brought high heels in popularity for women. Ladies can thank this forward fashion royal who insisted on having heels made for her in Florence prior to the wedding. The 14-year-old challenged bride set the rage in Paris for the new “It” shoe. Development The high heel emerged as an exclusively feminine form of footwear by the early eighteenth century and this shift show changes in notions of gender.

In the aristocratic society, high heels became objects of scorn when reduced to only a few millimeters as the upper class conformed to a more controlled esthetic favored by the middle class. The reemergence of high heels during the middle century challenged the respectable women on many levels in respect to their confinement. Why does man wear high heels in the past? Since the late 1700s, men’s shoes have had primarily low heels although high heels originated in France as male footwear around 1500. A notable exception is cowboy boots, which continue to sport a taller riding heel.

The two-inch Cuban heel features in many styles of men’s boot, but was popularized by Beatle boots, famously worn by the English rock group, The Beatles, which saw the reintroduction of heels for men. In the 1970s, there was also a brief rising in higher-heeled shoes for men. It provides a tantalizing evidence of the private aspects female body in public. Heels are a staple in the chic urban woman’s wardrobe, but this was not always the case. In 1500, it was men, descendants of European nobility, who began to wear heeled shoes in order to keep their feet in stirrups when horseback riding.

Although there are some references to heels in history prior to this, this is when it become popularized for men of the courts and the term “well heeled” came about to suggest being wealthy or able to afford the costly shoes. What does red high heels shoes represents in the 17th century. Since Louis XIV was rather short, he wore heels and soles, which were raised with cork, and were covered with red leather. Until the French Revolution, these red heels and red edged shoes remained a privilege for the French nobility.

Madame de Pompadour, Louis XIV’s fashion-loving, trend-setting mistress, fell in love with red a half-century after the Louis who wore the red heels. She moved red from Versailles velvets to simpler cotton and chintz. In her various chateaus, she covered sofas and beds with red-colored stripes and prints. Quote: “…man’s red high heels, while already an established fashion, became a regulated expression of political privilege. ” (Riello and Peter McNei 2006). This quote establishes a type of perception heels are giving men wearing them.

It means that men in red high heels are being looked up in the society as someone regulated by a political privilege as it usually being wore by men in court and nobility, taking for example King Louis XIV who was the one who established wearing red high heels in court. High heel shoes are believed to have transformative powers to make the women who wear them into the women they seek to be. With a full closet of possibilities, a woman’s fantasies can be worn at will, or kept in reserve for possible future times of need. High heel shoes represent hope.

“…The high heel’s popularity among women was related to its ability to present the fiction of a diminutive…” (Riello and Peter McNei 2006). This quote is about how these high heels worn by women has affected its semblance in the society. Women maybe of a low class but wearing a high heels has no longer become a necessity but rather a symbol in society depending on how the wearer wants to be perceived. Here I will discuss how women use fashion to influence men through the exploitation of men’s sexual desire. “… Like false ambition in men, from a love of power. ” (Wilson 2005).

In this quote, it tries to express that women in heels provokes men sexually and physically. The wearing of high heels treats men’s sexual desire, as women are treated sex symbols in society especially by those who provocatively use high heels as a seduction. The representation of high heels has become increasingly eroticized because the higher the heel the greater the show’s association with sexuality. Fashion photography has linked pornography and high heels as part of an erotic imagery. It also has the capacity to signify values it even shaped and constructed the female status, desirability and self-representation.

It does establish only femininity but also sexual allure. The “flapper” who suggested sexual availability by wearing highs, shockingly short skirts, and make up such as rouge and lipstick, which until the 1920s had been signifiers of prostitution…”(Riello and Peter McNei 2006). In the post-modern context of the 1980s, the feminist rejection of fashion started to lose much of its grassroots support. The idea that fashion, specifically sexy shoes, were not simply oppressive but offered pleasure to women became more widely accepted (Gamman 1993).

Critics argued that fashion can be an experiment with appearances that challenges cultural meaning. In the early 1980s, this change of heart about high heels perhaps was provoked by counter-cultural street fashion. Moreover, feminist debates about pleasure and female desire, which indirectly changed the way fashion was understood. Western women now claimed they were wearing high heels for themselves and that heels gave them not only height but also power and authority. From a 16th century Italian, high-platform shoe called the chopine, women’s and men’s elevated heels evolved.

Practical versions of the chopine, called pattens, made it easier to walk on muddy pathways before the advent of sidewalks and curbs. Because chopines raised both the heel and the toes above the ground, walking was difficult, and so, after two centuries on stilts, the sole was lowered while the heel was left standing. Thus the high-heel was born, an evolutionary hybrid. As technology evolved, shoes also evolved depending on the current needs of women in work and society. The culture of shoes in general affects how women of today are perceived and represented.

Some may have been criticized and scorned but I never stopped them from improving according the needs that women are expected to present themselves in public. While some may be conservative, others are a bit provocative and thus reflect the idea of prostitution by the wearer. In the 19th century, high-heeled shoe became the top style to own although Europe brought the new trend for high heels. America was not far behind in becoming of style because in 1888, the first heel factory in the United States opened. Making it unnecessary for women to import their shoes from Paris.

Women in the early part of the 20th century favored sensible shoes but in the 1920s, legs and feet were suddenly on display and shoes needed to be as beautiful as they were practical. The women of today believed that wearing high heels makes them more women to themselves than wearing flat shoes because it enhances beauty and personality. In a cultural sense, women of today have earned their power and authority by the stature they pose in the society and these high heels has contributed to that perception. Conclusion

To conclude, the cultural changes of shoes affect how the women of today were perceived by the society. Originally, high heels were created for both sexes but women are more empowered to wear high heels than the men do. The kind of impact high heels have on woman and man from the 17th century to now dwells more on the societal functions. Women in the 21st century have more shoe choices than ever before. From athletic wear to high heel, women can choose to wear what they want, even hybrid shoes such as “heeled” tennis shoes and flip-flops.

What is certain is that heels have not disappeared. It continues to evolve and match with the current trends in fashion wear. Dress and shoe should always go along together to match up the affair or the function of the wearer. Some women are even going under the knife to shorten their toes or inject padding into the balls of their feet to allow their feet to fit more comfortably into a pair of stilettos. Though this is already an obsession but the women never stopped from daring into where it would get them physically.

While these may be oddities of fashion, they gesture toward an exciting array of fashion choices women have today. The high heels are of different varieties that women could choose depending on their types of confidence level and their position in the society and their financial capabilities as well. Shoes are made not only for comfort but it reflects a much higher degree of sense as it involves culture and history. It presents the issue of high heels as a tool in getting into a privileged world or reflects a negative perception of sexuality.

It will now depend on how the wearer shall carry oneself in public, strutting his or her favorite footwear. Works Cited Gamman, Larraine. “Self-Fashioning, Gender Display, and Sexy Girl Shoes: What’s at Stake—Female Fetishism or Narcissism? ” Shari Benstock and Suzanne Ferriss, eds. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. (1993) Giorgio, R. And Peter, M. , “Shoes,”, Oxford: Berg. ( 2006) Wilson, Nigel Guy. Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece. New York, New York: Routledge. Retrieved from: http://books. google. com/books? id=-aFtPdh6-2QC. (2005)


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