A New York Times article published over the weekend suggested that women might be saying au revoir to high heels as the definitive symbol of material — and traditional – femininity (rivaled by maybe only lipstick).
A woman named Florie Hutchinson, an arts publicist in Palo Alto, California, has submitted a proposal to the Unicode Consortium’s emoji subcommittee recommending that they add a ballet flat in addition to the high heel, the only footwear emoji for women. Hutchinson, mother of three daughters, was inspired to submit the proposal when she noticed that typing “shoe” into her phone generated the red high-heel emoji, and she thought about the effect of gender stereotypes on children who are exposed to technology at young ages.
“My daughters are already being confronted by these gender-stereotypical norms, totally subconsciously,” Hutchinson said, “while all of us are having this very vocal conversation about gender biases.”
Our collective style consciousness right now has been drifting towards luxury athleticism (aka streetwear) and, in general, increased comfort. I would say that it’s, in fact, become somewhat rare to see women in heels, particularly in New York where you’re much more likely to see women in Adidas. Danskos, Crocs, and Birkenstocks, once shoes worn by restaurant waitstaff, nurses, and your aunt who lives in Sedona, have had high-fashion makeovers by Prada, Givenchy, Céline, and more.
Conversely, the popularity of Cardi B and those red bottoms signify that the vampy heel may not be disappearing completely anytime soon. They can be a signifier of wealth and “making it,” and as Cardi’s stylist pointed out, are a “status symbol that the masses can relate to.”
Valerie Steele, the director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, told the New York Times, “High heels are the number-one sartorial symbol of erotic femininity, and that’s not changing anytime soon.”