Julia Roberts made a statement about Cannes fashion rules by walking the red carpet barefoot, a receptionist was sent home from her corporate office for not wearing heels and a waitress posted a photo of her bloodied feet at the end of a long, high-heeled shift.
All this has drawn attention to the fact that women can legally be forced to wear high heels to work as part of their workplace attire regulations, which seems horribly draconian.
I’ve never been much of a high heels girl. I’ve been known to fall over while standing still, so stilettos just seemed like an unnecessary complication in my life.
You can’t deny, though, that there’s nothing like a nice pair of heels to complete that glamorous outfit or make yourself feel like a smart, powerful woman.
But for the last six months I’ve been banned from wearing heels altogether, due to a dodgy big toe joint.
This was great news until I realised just how many of my shoes had some sort of heel, even if only a little one, and I had to spend more money than I would have liked on new shoes.
Trying to find women’s work shoes and boots that are almost completely flat is a surprisingly tricky enterprise, but once I‘d found my new practical footwear I could get down to the serious business of being extremely comfortable.
Standing up on the Tube? No problem.
Having a long walk sprung on me without notice? Totally fine.
Cobbles? I am their master now.
I don’t have to take two pairs of shoes to work so that I can change into a comfy (and, in my case, safe) alternative for the commute home.
I can dance all night without limping for the whole next day and my toes have forgotten what it feels like to be thoroughly squashed by gravity.
I cheated and wore heels for a particularly fancy event and my feet rewarded me by developing a blood blister that took two months to go away. It seems like disproportionate punishment for just two hours in heels (and most of that time was spent sitting down).
That blood blister was an ugly daily reminder of just how much our feet are not designed to be forced into three-inch stilettos.
Wearing them doesn’t make a difference to how good a woman is at her job – in fact, if your job involves being on your feet all day then they probably actually make you worse at your job.
Wearing heels is not about looking professional, it’s about making your legs look longer and more slender. Which is fine if that’s the effect you’re going for. That’s certainly why I wear them.
But any company that tries to argue that a pair of smart, polished, flat shoes are somehow less professional than heels that that make your feet bleed are talking utter nonsense.
Even once my toe is fixed, I doubt I’ll go back to heels, except for very special occasions. Life’s just too damn easy without them.