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Women’s High Heels: Fashion Statement or Health Risk?

C. Louboutin's Red-soled Heels.

Fashion Statement/Health Risk?



Shopping for Shoes Online

I typically buy classic shoes that last really well for a few years.  Recently, I wanted to buy a new pair of office casual heels and a pair that could take me walking in them for a few miles each week for business.  For the first time in a long while, I was in for a real shock.

Like most women in my area, I had seen the commercials on TV for Just Fabulous and their great deals for $39.95 with free shipping in the United States and its territories.  The shoes looked stylish and chic.  So, since signing up is free, I thought I’d take a look.  I loved the handbags and a special “Welcome Discount” of 20% off my first item.  Signing up was easy, I filled out my profile (this way fashion style experts will suggest items for me ~ how fun!), and I awaited their decisions on styles chosen just for me via email. Here is where I became shocked by what the experts suggested I buy.

I had told them I was over fifty, will be walking a great deal for business, I am 5′ 8″ tall, and I have had 4 auto accidents (none of which was my fault, thank goodness), and my back cannot take 4 1/2″ heels.  Here are a couple of actual suggestions they made for me:

Image of 4 1/2" Purple Fashion Shoe, Penelope.Now this is truly a lovely shoe, but it hardly fit my profile.  Meet “Penelope;” it comes in purple, black, and grey. Now, I’m not a Vanessa Hudgins type so this shoe will not do for me what it does for her!

Image of Vanessa Hudgins wearing purple Penelope High Heels.

Here was another suggestion:

Stylish Theodora Heel in black.This is “Theodora”; comes in nude or black.  Stylish, interesting, attention-getting ~ YES! But, does it meet my requirements for the type of shoes I’m looking to buy? NO.  Amy Smart looks adorable in these, but ~ sigh ~ it’s not what works for me.

Stylish Theodora Heels worn by Amy Smart.

I have been looking around the site and there are choices for me but I will have to make the decisions and purchase what is best for my own purposes and style.  Sometimes the experts are wrong.

I Decided To Do An Experiment…

After this interesting unexpected experience, I decided to do an experiment. Some research led me to Shoe Dazzle.  They offered more products and had free shipping both ways. That’s always a plus to me. Sign up was free, quick, and it was a bit more detailed than Just Fabulous.  I had to wait a couple of days to get my expert-created “showroom.”  I couldn’t wait to see what they came up with!

I clicked the link in my email. One of the first suggestions they made just for me:

Image of a black thigh-high high heeled boot called Minka.Yes, this is a laced-up thigh-high boot.  Sexy, eh? I can just imagine what would happen if I wore this outfit while walking through my community, introducing myself to new prospective clients.  I need a professional image not one of a professional streetwalker.

Image of model wearing black Minka thigh-high boots.



Within my showroom, I had only one shoe selection that had less than a 4 1/2″ heel; the Epiphany.

Image of Epiphany a ballet flat in gold.This is a respectable little shoe that comes in turquoise, gold, and grey. I haven’t purchased it so I don’t know about its comfort or if there is much arch support, but at least I wouldn’t be trying to walk down sidewalks feeling like I am on unstable ground. I found the site’s suggested outfit to go with Epiphany interesting… A little too business casual, don’t you think?

Image of model wearing loungewear and Ephiphany ballet flats.


After further research, it appears that celebrities and Christian Louboutin are big influences on stylish shoes today.  If you are a fashion model, professional stylist, or celebrity, this look is probably something you strive for each day; you have to keep up appearances afterall.  For me and my friends, we might wear 4 1/2″ shoes for brief periods of time that do not require much walking or standing.  It’s just not practical or worth the stress on the body.

I could see that the fashion trends were totally focused on 4 1/2″ heels and up. Many women appear to be hooked on these  styles to the point that they buy nothing else. Supply and demand is what drives any market. The reason we see predominately very high-heeled shoes and boots is because this is what the current demand is. This caused me concern; both for our up and coming young women and for my consulting business. To me, these shoes should be for admiration purposes only, like a work of art. They really can’t be meant to be worn daily, can they?  Are they serious? It appears the answer is YES.

Gorgeous Louboutin's ~ Metalipp-120mm. Leopard print and gold.

Product Description: "In 'Metalipp 120,' finished with a steel toe and a piercing heel, there is no doubt that you will be dressed to kill. Scare away the competition with these weapons on your feet."

These shoes are a great example of “for admiration purposes only.” They are absolutely gorgeous! But, practical? Safe? Healthy? No. Budget busting? Yes! Addictions can be pricey ~ these currently go for $1,145.00 US.

The Results Are In…

Reasons I found why women put themselves through wearing super high heels.  See which reasons relate most to why you wear them.

* Men think they’re sexy so if you wear them, you are instanstly sexy and attractive to men.

* If your legs are shorter, these heels will make your legs look longer. Longer legs are considered sexier.

* If you think the shoes are sexy, you will feel sexier wearing them. It will boost your confidence.

* If you feel you are too short, the shoes will make you taller.

* They are the only way to complete your outfit. They give the overall look panache.

* They align your posture so you appear taller and slimmer; i.e. sexier.

* It’s a female thing; you wear them because it’s just what women do.  It’s expected.

I love feeling feminine, womanly, and sexy. What woman doesn’t? But, I wanted to know if it was just me that thinks the really high heeled shoes are not a good idea for a woman to wear daily. Just as with everything else in life, more is not always better. So, where is the line between fashionable, sexy, feminine, and healthy when it comes to shoes? Opinions vary, of course but here is an interesting study.

Image of ISU kinesiology master's studen Danielle Barkema and kinesiology professor Phil Martin.

Photo by Bob Elbert, ISU News Service

An Iowa State University Master’s Student, Danielle Barkema [seated in the pink top] recently completed her thesis research studying the effects of high-heeled walking on forces acting on lower extremity joints. Kinesiology professor and department chair Phil Martin [standing] assisted her in the study. As in every type of test conducted, individual results can and probably will vary. She measured the forces acting about the knee joint and the heelstrike-induced shock wave that travels up the body when walking in heels. Using sensors, accelerometers and lab equipment such as a force platform and markers/cameras, she was remarkably able to capture motion and force data.  This translated into results that could change the way millions of us women select our footwear. [Just click the image to read the full results].

She tested 3 heel heights ~ flats, 2″ heels, and 3 1/2″ heels.  The results of her research found that in addition to lower extremity joint problems, wearing heels ~ especially those two inches and higher ~ alters body posture by changing joint positions at the ankle, knee, hip, and trunk, which can create strain on the lower back. “Visually, it’s quite apparent that somebody’s posture is altered when wearing high heels,” she said. “We noted those changes in posture [in the study], as well as various joint angles, such as the knee and ankle angle. The most dramatic change occurs at the ankle.”

Danielle states, “Based on this information [from her research], wearing high heels puts individuals at greater risk for developing osteoarthritis. And it seems to be that the higher the heel height, the greater the risk.”

My Conclusion

Your life, your body, and your overall health ~ these are all very personal topics that you and you alone must make final decisions for. We sometimes consult with experts, specialists, and others we trust to help us with these decisions but ultimately, it’s up to you. I believe that by using common sense, truly knowing who you are and what your style is, and listening to your body ~ these should always prevail over someone telling you what you have to wear in order to be fashionable and attractive ~ no matter what your age.

My favorite pair of shoes.  I wore these cross country, stood and walked for hours at several Learning Annex events (back in the days when you rent space and greet over 60,000 people on a weekend; these events typically were from 7:30 AM to 7:00 PM), and a few other occasions. They show very little signs of wear, go with many of my outfits, and my feet were never tired or hurting. When I wear these, I feel sexy, feminine, and comfortable.

Image of Starlite Metallic Strappy Sandals.

My favorite dressy shoes. Metallic, 2" heels, super comfortable.


To your success and empowerment,

Deborah A. Ten Brink's Signature

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