Should The Government Regulate High Heels?

Should The Government Regulate High Heels? January 27, 2012

Honestly, I’ve never been much into high heels. Given that I’m a 54-year-old male, that’s probably a good thing. About 50 years ago, I wore some of my mom’s high heeled shoes, but only for a few steps before I fell. I couldn’t imagine how people could actually wear them or why they would want to. I still haven’t quite figured that out.

But, now we have scientific evidence that wearing high heels is unhealthy. Gretchen Reynolds, writing for the New York Times, gives an overview of recent research that frowns on high heeled shoes. In “A Scientific Look at the Dangers of High Heels,” Reynolds summarizes a study by three scientists at the Musculoskeletal Research Program at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. Here’s the quick conclusion:

It was obvious, as the scientists had suspected watching the woman during their coffee break, that the women habituated to high heels walked differently from those who usually wore flats, even when the heel wearers went barefoot. But the nature and extent of the differences were surprising. In results published last week in The Journal of Applied Physiology, the scientists found that heel wearers moved with shorter, more forceful strides than the control group, their feet perpetually in a flexed, toes-pointed position. This movement pattern continued even when the women kicked off their heels and walked barefoot. As a result, the fibers in their calf muscles had shortened and they put much greater mechanical strain on their calf muscles than the control group did.

Why does all of this matter? Because it means that women who regularly wear high heels are facing a much greater risk of injury, not only when they are walking in heels, but also when they are not wearing them.

All of this gets me thinking. What if it could be demonstrated beyond a doubt that regular wearing of high heels was damaging to the wearer’s well-being? At this point, would the government intervene, as in, say, the case of smoking? Should the government pass laws that people under 18 should not wear high heels? Or should they only be permitted to wear the to prom? Perhaps there should be laws limiting the number of days people wear high heels, or the number of hours per day? Perhaps even laws specifying the number of high heels a woman is allowed to have in her closet?

Now, if this sounds overly statist, remember, I’ve spent most of my life in California, with eight years in Massachusetts. I’m used to living in places where the government feels a moral obligation to keep people from exercising their freedoms if doing so might cause them harm.

Ah, maybe the government shouldn’t keep people from wearing high heels. Perhaps a big warning label on each box of shoes would be sufficient:

Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined that Wearing High Heels is Dangerous to Your Health

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  • Yeah and going bare foot is real dangerous too.Might stump your toe or cut your foot or step in something bad.Then there that problem with low cut or high top shoes.The high tops support the ankle ………what to do what to do.

  • Jim Huckabay

    Dear Mark:
    I feel a kindred spirit in your distaste for government over-reguation.  My hero in these views was a fellow I met during my college years in the 50’s while working summer jobs with the Texas Highway Department .  He lived out on a farm a few miles from my small home town, and did his farm work on the weekends.  He said one time, “I couldn’t live in the city with all them rules and regulations.  Why out where I live if I wanted to build an outhouse out of orange crates, I could do it and there’d be nobody to tell me I couldn’t.”  I reluctantly concede that in places as congested as Southern California we have to expect some of our individual freedoms to be compromised to a degree, but I feel government regulations now are like a horse with the bit firmly clamped between its teeth.  It’s running away and there’s no way to control it.

  • Daisy

    When heels prohibition comes, we women will have to have to secretly meet at the heel speak-easy. Or walk-easy. Or walk-not-so-easy.

  • Anonymous

    It’s interesting to get a man’s view of high heels.  I, a 65 yr old woman love heels but don’t wear them much anymore.  They do play havoc on your feet.  I never wore anything over a 2 inch heel.  Your feet are bearing all the weight on the  ball of the foot.  I sometimes still wear them but only from car to restaurant then home.  Jim, your right about too much government.  It’s a personal choice.

  • Government should definitely regulate the wearing of high heels.

    Lemonade stands. Carrots. T-shirts. Argoyle socks. And paper clips ought also be on the list.

    Actaully government should regulate every aspect of our lives, and make our yearing for Heaven that much stronger.  😀

  • sma9231961


    High heels are a menace to society. Also…lemonade stands. Legos. Breath mints. Paper clips and horseradish. Fly paper and rubber bands.

    Government ought regulate every aspect of our lives, so that our yearning for the next life will be that much stronger.  😀

  • Glenhallead

    And perhaps we could slap a 30% tax on them…

  • Anonymous

    Good point. Even more to regulate than I had thought.

  • Anonymous

    You do wonder when people will say “Enough already!”

  • Anonymous

    Good point.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comment.

  • Anonymous

    Good points. So much more to be regulated. Good thing government doesn’t have anything else to do.

  • Anonymous

    Why just 30%? Could we go even higher? Or perhaps a graduated tax, more tax for higher heels.

  • Bill Goff

    It is easy to find trivial examples both real and imaginary of government overreach and to assert that the government is too big.  However the Federal Government was not big enough under President Clinton’s administration to resist the influence of the wealthy financial products industry when it repealed protections that had in place since the Great Depression.  This repeal led to the financial collapse of 2008 that has left many people out of work and out of their homes or trapped in homes that are “under water.”  For a serious and substantial discussion of this important issue I recommend watching the new program Bill Moyers and Friends on PBS or on his web site. 
    My view is that government at all levels needs to be strong enough to resist those forces who would harm us whether those forces be terrorists or bankers.

  • Anonymous

    Or shoe manufacturers? Where does it end?

  • Wandavela

    i thinks its bull quit telling us what to do for heavens sake

  • Amish_pa

    What a crock.  Where has the government proposed such a regulation?  Are suggesting that government should not regulate tobacco?  Or the sale of tobacco and alcohol to minors?  Or that the government should not pass laws and regulations to keep our food supply safe and make certain that the medicines we buy are safe and effective?  When did Jesus  join the Tea Party?

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for adding your opinion.

  • Anonymous

    I’m afraid you’re reading in quite a bit here. I think the government should regulate tobacco. Sure. I’m just wondering where we draw the line. I have no idea what you mean about Jesus and the Tea Party. Do you think Jesus would join the Tea Party?

  • Daisy

    Mark, who would have thought heels would conjur up such deep analogies – and ignite such an array of comments. You have caused good questions to be asked.

    Whatever we wear on our feet when we’re standing, let’s pray we’ll be standing firm in our faith.

    I Peter 5:8 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.”

    And may our government, though flawed like us, stand with us in our faith. Soon.

  • Amish_pa

    Perhaps I have painted you with an over broad brush, and if so I apologize.  No, I don’t think Jesus would have joined the Tea Party.  Nor do I think he would have joined the Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Tories, Whigs, Conservative, or Labour parties either. I often see, on both ends of the political spectrum, arguments made to scripture that I think are inappropriate. It’s one of my peeves, but not something you committed here. I’m sorry.

    However if you want to consider the proper limits of government regulation, maybe more substantive examples than a ficticious regulation over ladies high heels might be in order.

    How about the proposed Tennessee law that would prohibit teachers from mentioning homosexuality in the classroom?  Reasonable and proper?  Or does it usurp the authority of parents and local school boards?

    What of the law in California that would require the use of condoms for sexual performers in pornography? Does the government have a legitimate interest in reducing the spread of HIV and other STDs in the workplace, or is it a noxious intrusion into private business?

  • Anonymous

    Nice analogy. Thaks.

  • Anonymous

    Great examples and questions. The reason I like the high heels case is that it pushes the argument to an extreme and forces us to think in new ways. I don’t know a lot about the two examples so my opinions are more intuitive than well-reasoned. I’m inclined to believe that teachers should not be prohibited from speaking about homosexuality, as long as it’s not advocacy. And if there is a genuine health danger in the porn case, then I think the government needs to be involved. Though, I must admit, there’s a part of me that wonders if the government should be in the business of keeping people from hurting themselves.

  • Bill Goff

    Where will it end? Texas?  When will it end?  When you put your heel down!

  • Anonymous

    Texans wouldn’t worry much about high heels. Now if the government decided to limit boot wearing, there’d be another Alamo.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome heels and looks great and much more beautiful then ever and i am sure that it will give a great look to your personality

  • Anonymous



    This is ridiculous,,,,,,,,and Women WILL NOT take ANYONE messin’ with their shoes!!! Now, if a woman chooses to wear a 6 inch heel, that is her PERSONAL choice. Every women knows the dangers,,,and the SKILLS to wear high heels… For GOODNESS SAKES,,,,,,,,,SOME women haVE NO PROBLEM in those heels… GOOD,,,they LIKE EM, they’re like ART,,,,AND, if ya can’t hack em,,,There are plenty of sexy little shoes around. Women will ALWAYS LOVE SHOES,,,,,,,so cut the BS,,,and somebody BAN cigarettes,,,,,HA!! and after that FOOTBALL,,,and PREGAME and AFTERGAME,,,,,,u might get unhealthy sitting there for 17 hours drinking beer and turning into a pasty flabby white dude, SO,,,Keep the HECK OUTTA OUR CLOSETS……!!!