High-heel wearing should not be forced, study says

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Media captionCommuting to work in high heels – is it worth the hassle?

More needs to be done to stop women being forced to wear high heels at work, Aberdeen researchers have said.

Calls to introduce a law banning companies from telling women to wear high heels at work were rejected by the government in April.

The issue was debated after one woman who was sent home for wearing flat shoes set up a petition.

The University of Aberdeen researchers recommended further investigation into the issue.

The review examined research into the physical damage and injury that can be caused, as well as the social and cultural aspects surrounding the wearing of high heels.

It found large amounts of studies showed a link between wearing high heels and an increased risk of bunions, pain and injury.

However, it found a lack of clear evidence of an association between high heel wear and osteoarthritis.

Risks and benefits

The authors drew a distinction between the UK – where the government has pledged to develop guidelines and raise awareness that female workers should not be forced to wear high heels without introducing new legislation – and the Canadian province of British Columbia, which has amended legislation to now prohibit employers from requiring staff to wear high heels.

Dr Max Barnish, who led the research, said: “From our review it is clear that despite the huge amount of evidence showing heels are bad for individuals’ health, there are complex social and cultural reasons that make high-heel wearing attractive.”

Dr Heather Morgan, a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, added: “Of course we are not trying to tell anyone that they should or shouldn’t wear high heels but we hope this review will inform wearers to help them weigh up the health risks with social benefits.”

She added that it was hoped the review would “put pressure on law makers to toughen up legislation so that no-one is forced against their will to wear them in the workplace or in licensed public social venues”.