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What did the men of Stylist REALLY think about walking in heels? The story behind this week's viral video

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They say you should never judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes.

Here at Stylist magazine, we decided to put that theory to the test following last week's news that a woman was sent home from work without pay for refusing to wear high heels. 

By standing up to this draconian rule, Nicola Thorp - the woman in question - shed light on the fact that, in the UK, it is still legal to make women wear heels to work. Thorp's petition condemning the law has now reached 139,285 signatures on Change.org.

When Thorp, 27, asked the company for whom she was working if the men were also required to wear heels, she was laughed at.

To highlight the absurd sexist law, the Stylist video team decided to do exactly that – ask men to wear heels to work for a day.

The resulting video went instantly viral, with 6.7million views at the time of writing, 128,171 Facebook shares and 9,000 comments.

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Dan gets ready for action

In the video, we see the long-suffering men of Shortlist Media attempting to survive a normal day in the office in stilettos, from running for their morning bus, attempting to negotiate cobble stones and grass, carrying cups of tea down the stairs and attending meetings.

The result is hilarious, from the moment the men are handed the shoes, unsure as how to even put them on (“I don’t actually know what’s left and right”) to them walking down stairs (“Oh my God that’s so hard”) and - eventually - questioning the whole experiment (“Why did I say yes to this?!”).  

Across social media, men and women alike were thrilled to see the tables turned, with Lauren Hughes commenting on Facebook: “This is great, proves a fantastic point and well done to the guys for putting their hands up and seeing how painful it can be.”

Others opened up about how they themselves had been forced to wear heels to work, how they thought heels were ‘ridiculous’: Lekia Lée said: "Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Stylist Magazine for doing this. It is something I have always imagined asking men to do. Heels are ridiculous!" 

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Tom learning to walk

And some men gained new found respect for women in heels, with Tim Glanton commenting: “I know the patriarchy has pulled off some pretty astonishing bullshit over the last couple of millennia, but how the hell did we manage to make high heel shoes a thing? Mind blowing. Then you realise that women go to work, effectively hobbled, and still manage to kick ass. Respect ladies.”

Some beady-eyed viewers noticed that a couple of the men had kept their socks on during the experiment, with Gina Liliou saying: "They are wearing thick socks, not fair!" (it is cheating... right?)

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Lee can't quite stand up

But other than just having a laugh for the sake of entertainment, we decided to ask the men what they learned from their day in heels. Here's what they had to say:

Sam Diss, senior writer

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“I thought it would be easy, to be honest. I thought I’d nail it. But seeing those heels up close made me quite frightened – I genuinely don’t know how a human foot would get in there, let alone anywhere even approaching comfortably. I couldn’t even tell them left from right. After having worn them all day, my calves were killing me, I was sweating with effort, the balls of my feet felt on fire, and my toes were crumpled. Afterwards, I’ve never been more pleased to put on a pair of old trainers in my life.

I guess I learned that women i) deserve utmost respect for not going mad and killing everyone for making them wear that shit, and ii) internalised misogyny is lame and everywhere. And the fact that a lot of blokes immediately leap to “WELL WE HAVE TO WEAR A SUIT AND TIE AND THAT” in response – almost always without being asked their opinion - is quite embarrassing. Sure, they’re also uncomfortable, but fucking hell, we have literally every other benefit in the working world. A tie is really no biggie in the grand scheme of things.”

Dan Adeyemi, creative technologist 

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“My day wearing heels was interesting. I found them extremely uncomfortable - I think that’s what I found most surprising, the discomfort. 

I think it’s awful that women could be forced to wear heels at work. It’s not like being forced to wear a suit or a tie, it’s something that could actually be detrimental to your posture/physique if worn for long periods of time. Saying that, it’s all about choice really. If women want to wear heels then they should do that. My main issue is being forced to do anything… 

I certainly never want to wear heels again.”

Tom Wheatley, head of broadcast 

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"Before the day I actually assumed that wearing heels would be easy. But my first thought after being handed them was “how am I going to get these on?” – I ended up kneeling on the floor because I was too worried to stand up and attempt it.

My second fear was falling over whilst wearing them. I do a lot of running and I was walking along thinking “Don’t trip over, don’t trip over. You’ve got a race this weekend.” Which is a not something I’ve ever had in the front of my mind when heading  to a meeting before.

The idea that women would have to wear them seems tantamount to being made to wear snowboard boots at work – both are about as painful and as difficult to get on. When I’m in a meeting with someone wearing high heels now I’m probably going to be distracted by just feeling sorry for them."

Lee Seymour, broadcast manager 

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"Although I didn't find them that hard to walk in, I did manage to spill coffee down myself when I lost my balance a little.

I was mostly surprised by how painful they were. My little toe was absolutely crushed by the end of the day. Now when I see women wearing heels I wonder if they're finding it really painful, too. 

Heels can look great and it's up to each woman if they want to wear them but the idea that anyone should be made to wear them is absolutely ridiculous."

Watch the full video below.

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