Shoes are symbolic. They can communicate a person’s gender, class, sexual orientation, subculture or profession. The absence of shoes can indicate just as much – a monk’s religion or vagrant’s poverty. Shoes are rich with meaning. They express the accumulation of centuries of historical and cultural development, and with no more sound than a shuffle or a stomp.
It is as deep with meaning as it is with sex appeal.
Its history is interwoven with boundary-pushing artists, fashion innovators and cultural symbolism. It is the physical manifestation of an ongoing conversation. A conversation that seeks to answer: what is hot?
Throughout the ages, the highest heels have been used to express power and extravagance, femininity and allure, voluptuousness and vulnerability. For some: it is the pinnacle of female oppression. The man-made product that was designed to make us appear clumsy and fragile. For others: it is a way to challenge these very ideas. More so, it is a way to be challenged.
The stripper converts the heel’s embedded sexual currency to hard cash.
She not only willingly accepts the challenge of classic pumps, but retorts: ‘double the inches, and I’ll dance too’.
But where did society’s love affair with heels begin? How did their height accumulate so much meaning? And was it always so sexual? To answer these questions, we must reflect on the intersecting and overlapping timelines of sex, strip and shoes.