Highly Sexist High Heels


This print advertisement by Deichmann points out that taller men are more likely to be given promotions and higher salaries, but completely ignores the fact that men already “hold the better jobs, get higher wages, and have more opportunity for success than [women]” (de Beauvoir 35). Using statistics about men to sell a product designed for and targeted to women has many interesting gender implications. By stating the relationship between height and money/promotions, the advertisement acknowledges that discrimination based on superficial factors such as height exists. Intending to equate the added height provided by high heels to a career advantage, the ad instead evokes the “fundamental asymmetry and hierarchy between the two groups, or roles, or sexes, or genders” (Delphy 59). What about discrimination in the workplace that is far more widespread and overt than inequity based on height, that based on gender? The captions glaze over the fact men and women are entirely unequal. This is problematic when the women targeted by the advertisement believe that heels will help them get ahead, or “GO GET THEM!” (Deichmann advertisement), when in reality they are disadvantaged from the start.

The product itself evokes gender issues – high heels are associated with femininity and sex appeal. Heels are worn so commonly, but are actually terribly unhealthy (Huffington Post). Why do women still wear them, despite the pain and long-term health consequences? One obvious reason is that they make women more visually appealing to men. Women “appear essentially to the male as a sexual being” (de Beauvoir 33). By encouraging women to wear heels to work, the advertisement serves as an example of the sexual objectification of women. It puts pressure on women to look good for the benefit of others when they only need to do their job well, revealing our society’s values.

Found the advertisement here: http://blog.lilacfashion.com/they-want-us-to-keep-up-with-men/

de Beauvoir, Simone. “The Second Sex: Introduction.” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. Ed. Carole R. McCann and Seung-Kyung Kim. New York: Routledge, 2003. 32-40. Print.

Delphy, Christine. “Rethinking Sex and Gender.” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. Ed. Carole R. McCann and Seung-Kyung Kim. New York: Routledge, 2003. 57-67. Print.

High Heels Infographic: What Pumps Are Actually Doing To Your Feet (INFOGRAPHIC).” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 27 June 2013. Web. 12 Sept. 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/27/high-heels-infographic_n_3512091.html&gt;.


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