A new high heels study out of France’s Université de Bretagne-Sud finds that men are more likely to lend a helping hand to a woman who’s wearing high heels rather than flats.
“Women’s shoe heel size exerts a powerful effect on men’s behavior,” says Nicolas Guéguen, the study’s author.
Guéguen found that men were more likely to answer survey questions from women on the street if those women were wearing pumps. Similarly, he found that if a woman in heels dropped a glove, a man was more likely to pick it up for her.
To Chloe Angyal, who wrote a piece on the high heels study:
… high heels change the way you walk, the way you stand, and the way your clothes fit your body. As a culture, we have decided that the alterations heels produce in how women carry themselves are desirable, a decision we’ve stuck to for over 50 years. In recent years, the trend pendulum in high heels has swung toward atmospherically high, with platforms and hyper-narrow stiletto heels giving way, recently, to 1990s-nostalgia in the form of chunkier heels. These are, in the grand scheme of things, relatively minor variations; our cultural penchant for high heels is entrenched, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
Guéguen says more research must be done on the topic to get more specifics, but he sees his results as further proof that men focus primarily on physical attributes when it comes to interacting with women.
We all know there a negatives to wearing high heels: it’s hurts your feet, can cause orthopedic damage, and makes it easier for you to fall. They’re also hard to run in if you’re being chased. However, Angyal sees the situation as much more complex than that: “…the subject area goes to core questions of power: how we gain it, how we wield it, how we lose it. It also raises fascinating questions about power, attraction, and gender, and like this study, it raises more questions than it answers — a good sign of a subject area that merits further exploration.”