The Cost of Killer Heels -Not for the Squeamish.

Killer Heels

High heeled shoes are the height of fashion and worn by many women on every possible occasion. Whether walking to the supermarket, a day at the office or a formal event, stiletto shoes give an elegant sexy and sophisticated edge to an outfit. Over the past few thousand years high heels have been in and out of fashion but are now as popular as they ever have been.

Looking a the list of celebrity designers- Gucci, Louboutin , Prada , Jimmy Choo,Manolo, Blahnik Cavalli, Alexander McQueen and Prada -women the world over are in love with their heels. Making women feel powerful, classy and sexual, stilettos make the legs look longer and more defined. The pelvis become tilted when standing or walking emphasizing female curves; the sound of tapping draws attention to the wearer.

Heels can be modest at one or two inches, medium heels are between two to three inches, while a true high heel is four inches or more. Some hard core heel wearers can mange to wear a heel of seven inches.

Although high heeled shoes have been documented since ancient Egyptian times, it is only in the the 20th century that women have worn heels with such a widespread passion.

Heels accentuate the length of the leg, make calves and ankles appear more shapely, the feet seem smaller and give the wearer a tilt to the pelvis which adds a provocative gait to the walk.


Pain for Style

A high heel is defined as post which raises the heel 3.5 inches or higher above the front of the foot. This forces the ball of the foot to bear many more times the weight of the whole body than nature intended. Wearers of high heels will testify to the pain or burning sensation in the ball of the foot after periods of standing or walking. This pain is called metatarsalgia and is a sign that localised trauma has occurred within the foot tissue. Indeed there are products available including gel on general sale that are specifically designed to be worn in the shoe to help prevent the trauma.

Feet are complex structures that allow us to remain stable while walking. Very high shoes disrupt this dynamic process and other parts of the body have to compensate in order for us to walk. In particular the knees and hips are challenged in a traumatic way and long term wearers of heels risk serious long term joint damage. Lordosis of the spine while very figure enhancing can put the heel wearer at risk of permanent arthritis and back instability.



Oprah Winfrey and Her Bunions

Victoria Beckham has fallen foul to this High Heel Malaise

High Heels and Toes

Although many areas of the body can be damaged by high heel shoes, perhaps the most obvious are the toes. High shoes often have pointed toes , so the foot is pushed forward and downward , the toes already under a huge force are confined into a small triangular area.

This can and frequently does cause a range of toe and foot deformities, including bunions. Bunions ( hallus valgus) are an overgrowth of bone; a protection system of the body to prevent further damage to the foot.

Bunions are very disfiguring, can be extremely painful, and notoriously difficult to treat. Surgical solutions include bone shaving- literally sawing off slices of the bony overgrowth.Many famous celebrities have bunion problems after years of wearing catwalk styles. Although bunions are though of as a disorder of elderly people they can start early in life, especially if a women chooses to wear high heels very regularly. Bunions will increase with age.




A Bound Chinese Foot

Chinese Foot Binding

The deformities caused by 21st Century fashion are reminiscent of the foot shapes cased by Chinese foot binding; a practice that was popular in China for over 1000 years until it was eventually banned in the early 1920s. Young Chinese girls would have their feet repeatedly bandaged into ever tighter bindings until her feed conformed to the aesthetic values of the time. The process of binding was painful; toes and arches became broken, the feet became contorted and folded into a tiny form. Girls as young as 4 would have their feet broken, bound and repeatedly beaten to brevent breaks from healing. The pain must have been unimaginable.

Chinese women then were considered beautiful for their tiny feet, their teetering steps would be thought of as sexually alluring= unable to run or climb, much like modern 21st women in their stiletto shoes.

Women were subjugated by their feet, and some of the shoes and gaits of modern and 21st Century women bear striking similarities. Women are still prepared to suffer in order to stifle and damage their feet for the sake of fashion it seems.



Modern shoes Have a Striking Similarity to Shoes of Ancient China

An X Ray of A Foot Bound Chinese Woman

More by this Author


Comments 90 comments

Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana

Ouch - these shoes look painful! Excellent hub.

So many don't realize that their feet have to last them a life time. And ultimately low back, knee, and ankle problems result from wearing ill-fitting shoes.


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Thanks Kris, I am glad I have never been able to walk in heels!


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Wow. I never realized what the bound feet looked like and I winced when I realized the foot was folded over. Yikes! Then I saw the Oprah picture and realized we still impose something similar upon ourselves in the name of beauty! Lucky for me, I never had to wear heels for work and never did tolerate them for long...now at least, I have feet to carry me into old age gracefully!

I am finally reaping the benefit of not ever being a style icon...lol


CrisSp profile image

CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

Interesting read! I'm a Flight Attendant and I love heels. Got to caution myself after reading your Hub and seeing the yucky photos!


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

Oh ouch :( I'm glad I don't wear heels, 5'11" with a hubby that's a tad shorter then me helps with that! Very interesting read! Voted up and shared :)


Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 4 years ago from Northeastern United States

I love the look but the pain is not worth it. Not only do feet hurt, but it changes the weight distribution on the rest of the carriage. Hips, knees, lots of things will hurt after a while. I love my SNEAKERS! LOL


Talullah profile image

Talullah 4 years ago from SW France

I wear heels at times but not that high! I remember reading about foot-binding in China, and I'm so glad it's not longer the custom there. How awful if must have been for little girls to go through that, and their feet must have been in permanent pain all through their lives.

Interesting hub!


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Thanks for stopping by!


LauraGT profile image

LauraGT 4 years ago from MA

I call them "instruments of torture." Luckily, I've always have a foot problem that keeps me from wearing them. For special occasions, I take a lot of ibuprofin and put on 2 inches, but otherwise, it's flats for me!


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

You are so right Laura- they are instruments of torture, I never wear them.


Opulent1 profile image

Opulent1 4 years ago

Can we say Owwwww! I like fashion yet I use common sense with it especially heels! Thanks for that informative article! Now following!


belleart profile image

belleart 4 years ago from Ireland

Holy crap! That's terrifying. I never usually wear heels, I prefer flats...much more comfortable! The measures those people took for beauty is crazy but is it that different to plastic surgery that happens now?

Its extremely painful, has many downfalls and costs a bomb...I'd rank that somewhere similar to the Chinese women that did that to their feet.


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

opulent, yes it's a bit scary- I have to admit to wearing heels on ocassoin, but only at events I can sit down!!


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

belleart, the chinese foot binding is very sad especially as it was done to young girls without their consent. Thanks for stopping by.


innerspin profile image

innerspin 4 years ago from uk

The huge platform shoes in fashion now make me cringe, seeing girls struggle to walk along. Just how is that meant to look attractive? Interesting hub, thanks.


Lovelovemeloveme profile image

Lovelovemeloveme 4 years ago from Cindee's Land

I read about that. It's horrible. The princesses and queens of ancient chinas would have to be carried everywhere AND they would sleep with their husbands with their shoes on. lol Probably because their feet are deformed and hideous.


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Innerspin, so true, I watch these poor young wome in town teetering about in heels barely able to walk, not attractive at all!


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

loveme, yes Ia gree, hideous, and often extremely maloderous with necrotising tissue.


editsvcs profile image

editsvcs 4 years ago

I used to love wearing three inch heels daily until one day I noticed my big toe was starting to turn slightly inwards - the beginning of bunions. And, oh, the pictures you have are truly not for the squeamish! Thankfully I stopped, things straightened out with some coaxing, and heels are now an occasional wear.


Felicia Carrillo profile image

Felicia Carrillo 4 years ago from New Mexico

OMG! Are those chinese feet real?? wow, to think i loved heels! Now i'm not to sure!


Rusti Mccollum profile image

Rusti Mccollum 4 years ago from Lake Oswego, Oregon

I love my heels, they aren't real high,but these pics make me think twice. I now have neuropathy nerve damage. Its a very painful condition, I know I didn't what pain was until this happened,we are just now getting thespian under control. Victoria became feet don't surprise me she's always dressed up and in very high heels. Some of those feet are just frightening.I know the pain I'm in I can only imagine the pain they must be in. Great hub!


carladominique profile image

carladominique 4 years ago from Philippines

This one is scary. That's why I'm having second thoughts of buying high heeled shoes. A high heeled sandal will be better maybe.


Kathryn L Hill profile image

Kathryn L Hill 4 years ago from LA

My question is who are they trying to impress? I think men just wonder why these women risk their lives and limbs to wear those really high heeled and hideous shoes! I see women wearing them at the grocery store, at the juice shop, even at the aquatic center...where I , thankfully, work in my bare feet! It is so bad for their lower backs, as well! Thank You so much for adressing this disturbing fashion trend.


Mico 4 years ago

Very interesting read. http://www.micoequipment.com


lannm profile image

lannm 4 years ago from Out here somewhere

This was very interesting and kept my attention... Nice work..


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

editsvcs, that must have given you a shock, good to hear you managed to get your foot straight again- well done!

felicia- very offputting isn't it, and really disturbing parallels between what Western women do to their feet and chinese foot binding.


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

rusti- that sounds very painful. It's often the shape of the front of the shoe that seems to do damage as well as the heels. Thanks for stopping by.


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

carladominique, nice to see you, yes perhaps sandals would be wbetter.

Kathryn, I agree, those who are impressed are not worth impressing! I agree with your thoughts on lower back health too.

lannm, thanks for your kind comments and for visiting.


breathe2travel profile image

breathe2travel 4 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

I once was a lover of heels. That love transitioned to a love of comfort and ease of mobility! Having children helped the transition. :)

Great hub. Pics are powerful.

Voting up & useful.


Lovelovemeloveme profile image

Lovelovemeloveme 4 years ago from Cindee's Land

Oh, and btw. Most of the girls of ancient China who did this...died young. it's very painful and kills blood circulation and creates blood clots = heart attackes = death.

The price of beauty eh... lol


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

breathe2travel, like you I saw the light before I did any damage. I love my flats now!!


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Loveme- Wow I didn't know that about blood clots- truly horrifying. :O


Wr1t3r profile image

Wr1t3r 4 years ago from Oregon

Crazy. I know they aren't good for you, but I never realized just how horrible heels can be for you. thought I probably won't give up my 4" shiny red heels, since I don't wear them very often. Now I will wear them even less.


Silver Q profile image

Silver Q 4 years ago

Wow! The things we will do for beauty! Very interesting hub and the pictures add strength to the words. Thank you for writing such an informative article!


Ruchi Urvashi profile image

Ruchi Urvashi 4 years ago from Singapore

I don't like wearing high heels. Reading your article open my eyes further about the health issues involved. Great read.


iguidenetwork profile image

iguidenetwork 4 years ago from Austin, TX

thanks for this really great and very informative article. Health is more important than beauty and fashion


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Wr1t3r , shiny red heels are so appealing aren't they! I am sure a little wear now and again won't do much damage to your feet!

Silver Q Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your visit.


FullOfLoveSites profile image

FullOfLoveSites 4 years ago from United States

Fantastic and eye-opening hub, I should say. Great writing all around!


Karine Gordineer profile image

Karine Gordineer 4 years ago from Upstate New York

Great eye opening read. I was aware of the damage from high heels but I'm sure many are not. Thanks for bringing light to this overlooked issue. If you're going to wear heels certainly try not to spend as much time in them. I have to confess to wearing them but balance it out by spending more time in sneakers, hiking boots and my bear feet.


FreezeFrame34 profile image

FreezeFrame34 4 years ago from Charleston SC

Very interesting hub. I am petite and when I was younger, I would wear heels everywhere. (The bigger the heel, the better!) Stilettos, platforms, anything that gave me height! My prom shoes were eight inches! I can't even try them on and walk around the store now! I totally overdid it and I'm paying the price! Thanks!


Kathryn L Hill profile image

Kathryn L Hill 4 years ago from LA

Well, Maybe they don't wear these types of shoes where you are... but where I live they do. You are lucky if you don't have to witness women killing themselves wearing these shoe fashions which probably originated in China... or Paris. I wonder where.

And what's wrong with a few commas here and there? jease,,,oh,,,, mease,,,,,!


dianetrotter profile image

dianetrotter 4 years ago from Fontana

Thank God my knees went out on me in my 20s. My doctor told me to forget heels!

Bad knees are preferable to some of these feet!


eguide 4 years ago

Why is everyone talking about shoes? I think these people are shoe crazy...

No need to respond; just giving out some divs ya know...


Dina Blaszczak profile image

Dina Blaszczak 4 years ago from Poland

Hope your hub will open eyes to many high-heels-adicted-women. These photos are really scary, I heard tha high heels can damadge feet, but I never realised how much. Voted up and useful.


Tracy Mason profile image

Tracy Mason 4 years ago from Ayrshire

Wow! What an interesting read. My mum and younger sister had awful feet and needed operations on their bunions and crooked toes all because of wearing high heels. It is great that you are highlighting the damage these shoes can do. Voted up!


tigresosal 4 years ago

very interesting hub. I was aware of the the Chinese foot binding process from the readings on Chinese culture. Feel very sad to see the pictures of the impact of high heels on the feet of modern women. I am glad that my wife does not wear those things. An excellent educational hub.


DeviousOne profile image

DeviousOne 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Very informative. People should buy proper shoes in my opinion. Regardless of the pair of shoes, comfort and health is always important. Voted up.


dianetrotter profile image

dianetrotter 4 years ago from Fontana

I have to remind my students that the stilts are not safe on risers. I call them Hoe-rina shoes.


healingsword profile image

healingsword 4 years ago from California

Excellent Hub, Silver Fish--the comparison between Western high heels and Chinese foot binding is valid! Thank you for speaking the truth.


GreYGhost profile image

GreYGhost 4 years ago from central florida

I spent 55 on a pair of jessica simpson heels for my wife that were originally 135$ . A day later she let me know that standing in them for an hour was horrible pain.ty jessica your shoesare overpriced and suck to stand in


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

FullOfLoveSites - thanks for your kind words!


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Karine Gordineer Yes I think this is an overlooked issue, and one that doesn't catch up with us fpr a few years, but by then the damage is done.


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Thanks for reading. I am sorry your feet have been damaged by these shoes, it needs more awareness.


GiblinGirl profile image

GiblinGirl 4 years ago from New Jersey

Yikes - this certainly sheds some light on the dangers of high heeled shoes. I have to say it was a little disturbing to read and look at the pictures, but it's definitely an important subject.


Phyllis Warren profile image

Phyllis Warren 4 years ago from Arizona

Hmmm, they wear these high heels to look sexy. But the feet they have afterwards are ANYTHING but sexy.


Nyamache profile image

Nyamache 4 years ago from Kenya

Why should a woman wear high heeled shoes knowing these effects! Those who are not aware of how high heeled shoes can damage their feet will find this hub useful. The Chinese foot binding is upsetting.


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Thanks everyone for your comments.


Anjo Bacarisas II profile image

Anjo Bacarisas II 4 years ago from Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

that was very painful.. now everyone who read this knows the effect, be careful and wear heels occasionally for more safety! thanks to this hub, very helpful :)


Sarai79 4 years ago

I love to wear high heals; however, only to go out dancing, parties and out to dinner. I didn't know that bunions are caused from wearing heals "I'm happy I learned from this hub." :)


Kathryn L Hill profile image

Kathryn L Hill 4 years ago from LA

Those "how cool" shoes are really N O T! ( they are really ugly.)


carladominique profile image

carladominique 4 years ago from Philippines

Just a question, I heard something like it's not advisable to always have flats? I mean, slightly heeled shoes or sandals have a therapeutic effect?


dianetrotter profile image

dianetrotter 4 years ago from Fontana

Some men wore platforms back in the late 70s. That lasted a New York minute. Women should be so smart.


TheKatsMeow profile image

TheKatsMeow 4 years ago from Canada

I am not squeamish but had a hard time looking at the pictures! High heels are horrible for feet, I am glad I only wear them for special occasions!


babyluve profile image

babyluve 4 years ago

babyluvecarree@yahoo.ie


JeremyLewis profile image

JeremyLewis 4 years ago from Akron OH, USA

Eye opening.. Thank you. Great hub.


Tersco profile image

Tersco 4 years ago from Ohio/Florida

I consider myself lucky that all my years of wearing high heels didn't result in injury! I was always known to wear 4"-5" high heels (mainly pumps or slingbacks) to work along with another co-worker. I found them very easy to walk in and love the way they look however as I've gotten older I'm much more aware of the damage that can be done. Now, they're for special occasions only and only when I'm not going to be doing a lot of walking. Thanks for an insightful article!


Bettyoverstreet10 profile image

Bettyoverstreet10 3 years ago from Vacaville, Ca.

The things we do to make ourselves look good! However, lots of women I see in heels look rediculous as thougth they are hanging on for dear life to keep from falling. I believe in comfort that is also pretty. A wedge suits me fine!


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 3 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Thanks Betty, I consider myself lucky to never have mastered walking in heels!!


ScottMemphAnderso profile image

ScottMemphAnderso 3 years ago from Memphis , TN

Wow, that was an impressively informative post. You set the bar pretty high. I liked it alot, and where did you find all those great pictures?


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 3 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Thanks Scott, I am glad you found it interesting.


sihl shgl profile image

sihl shgl 3 years ago

Thanks to alert


curiouskitty79 profile image

curiouskitty79 3 years ago from United States

Those bunions and the bound feet look like absolute torture! How can they stand that. Are bunions only formed from very high damaging heels, does anyone know? Because I love wearing heels and I'm very picky about them. So when I when I buy a pair, if they hurt my feet after just a few hours, I'll return them. So is there a difference between the damaged caused to the feet by how fitting and comfortable the shoe is versus one that is obviously going to hurt at every step you take?


CRe8tiVeLiFe profile image

CRe8tiVeLiFe 3 years ago from Somewhere over the rainbow ;-)

I can't even think about worrying about the damage shoes like these would to to my feet. I'd be too busy worrying about my ankle rolling over instead. ;-) Definitely not for the clumsy people of the world like me! Great read though! Thanks!


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 3 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Hi Curious kitty. As I understand it the damage to the foot is done by both the forward pressure cause by the elevation of the heel, and the shape of the front of the shoe. I would guess that high shoes with a more generous toe box would cause a little less damage than the same heel with winkle picker toes. I think pain is an indication of damage too.


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 3 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Cre8tivelife- I am the same. After a lifetime in flats seeing me walk in heels is comedic. Certainly doesn't give me a glamorous edge! Thanks for reading.


newusedcarssacram profile image

newusedcarssacram 3 years ago from Sacramento, CA, U.S.A

So many women are wearing really high heels now days. It is true that all these heels look really good, but they come with a serious cost. A regular use of high heels can severely damage toes. Thanks for sharing all about it along with the images. I have heard about the Chinese foot binding habit before, but it is too painful to read. Thank you for your Hub on this topic, much appreciated.


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 3 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Thanks newusedcarssacram I think they look nice too- but not something I could ever wear. THanks for reading.


sparkleyfinger profile image

sparkleyfinger 3 years ago from Glasgow

I love shoes, but I am glad that I can't walk in stilettos!!! c'mon the flatties!!!!!


celeste inscribed profile image

celeste inscribed 3 years ago

Even if I didn't read the article, the images are horrifying! I walk bare foot most days and would slip my shoes off under my desk. Anyone who has a problem with it will receive a copy of your article from me. Thank you for a wonderful and informative hub. Voted interesting and up.


day4all profile image

day4all 3 years ago from South United States

Great photos and article,it hurt to look at them. Now I wear shoes with 1" heels.


Amy Rowe profile image

Amy Rowe 3 years ago

Time to out my louboutins away :(


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 3 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Sparkleyfinger, not being able to walk in the is an advantage in my book! I bet you have healthy feet!


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 3 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Celeste, thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your comments.


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 3 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

day4all, thanks for reading- sorry if have put you off your heels!


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 3 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

Amy I am sure your louboutins are beautiful at least they will last longer in the closet! Maybe you can still wear them for high days and holidays?


Indian Chef profile image

Indian Chef 3 years ago from New Delhi India

Very informative hub about how fashion can play with your health. I do not really understand why even tall girls would wear the heals. I really liked the xrays you showed and history of Chinese girls having deformed toes because of the fashin.


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 3 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland Author

THanks Indian Chef


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

Owwwww. It looks painful. Those poor Chinese ladies. My 40 something year old feet really do appreciate tennis shoes.


Saunter 21 months ago

Pain infirmity torture subjugation to a helpless gait hideous . Whom are hi heeled women trying to please what man is worthwhile if he finds. Pain infirmity torture and subjugation appealing. Oh wait I know look in your mind . Is the man appealing who finds pain infirmity torture and subjugation to a helpless hideous gait is this man safe to be around.? Well ask yourself. And a society that glamorized pain infirmity torture and subjugation is it a glamorize thing ? Are you sure? Is it good?


Kathy Tobacco profile image

Kathy Tobacco 20 months ago from Fayetteville, Georgia

I have worn high heels everyday for the past 4 decades and my feet are perfect, not one bunion, corn or even callus. I don't know what theses women's feet are jacked up but high heels don't tell the whole story. Buying high quality shoes helps and never buy a shoe that doesn't fit and that you can't walk in gracefully. If the heels aren't clicking then don't bother. A few years ago I injured my ankle climbing a fence (in a sports shoe) to help someone who had been in a car accident. Now wearing heels is difficult for me and hurts my ankle. If that didn't happen I know I would still be wearing them. Also I am tall (5'9") and to the woman who can't understand why tall women wear heels I would say I don't know why short women wear them. We can all tell you are still short. And walking in high heels gracefully is an art. It isn't all about men wanting to subjugate and maim women. I loved wearing heels and my husband just wishes I would spend less on shoes. I wore heels because they made me feel beautiful. If I can ever get my ankle healed from the fall I will wear them again.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working