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Japan’s women are right: high heels need kicking out of the workplace

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We’re used to talking about high heels in terms of fashion, fantasy and even feminism. But we’re somewhat less accustomed to speaking about them as business etiquette and workplace obligation – even though, to many women, that’s exactly what they represent.

While many wear high heels for fun and self expression, countless others wear them because of industry standards, or even because their boss says they have to. But why?

The long-running to-wear-or-not-to-wear debate was resurrected this week when Japanese actor and writer Yumi Ishikawa submitted a petition to her country’s labour ministry asking for a ban on employer-mandated high heels. Her efforts have been bolstered by a clever hashtag: #KuToo is a pun on the Japanese words for shoe (kutsu) and pain (kutsuu), with a nod to the #MeToo movement thrown in for good measure. At last count, the petition had amassed more than 23,000 signatures. But Japan’s health and labour minister responded by defending workplaces that require women to wear high heels, describing the practice as “necessary and appropriate”.

High heels have long been seen as a female equivalent to the businessman’s necktie. They’re a sartorial accessory that, when worn in a business setting, send a message........

© The Guardian