Women are still expected to wear high heels at work in 2019, and WTF?

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Hollie Richardson
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UK law still doesn’t ban employers from requiring their female staff to wear high heels, but a new petition proves that this still isn’t okay. 

Stylist recently challenged a group of men to spend a day walking in high heels. But it wasn’t just for pure entertainment value: it was primarily made in response to the absurdity of how women are still expected to wear heels at work.

In 2016, Nicola Thorp was sent home from her job as a receptionist for refusing to wear high heels while working. She then started a petition campaigning to make it unlawful for employers to insist on high heels, which achieved sufficient signatures to require a parliamentary debate.

Although the government published new guidance on dress codes and dress discrimination in the office, it didn’t explicitly ban employers from making high heels a requirement. Instead, they advised: “It is best to avoid gender specific prescriptive requirements, for example the requirement to wear high heels.”

Watch: Men wear high heels for a day

Now, a fresh petition proves that this is an ongoing issue which still needs to be addresses properly.

Over 19,000 people have signed campaigner Yumi Ishikawa’s petition, calling for Japan to end dress codes that require women to wear high heels in the workplace. It has since gone viral with over 30,000 retweets and shares. The campaign has been labelled the #KuToo movement, referencing #MeToo with the Japanese words for shoes “kutsu” and pain “kutsuu”.

Ishikawa set up the petition after she tweeted her frustration over being asked to wear high heels while working her job at a funeral parlour. Similarly to the UK, Japan has no law banning sexist work dress codes.

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Speaking at a press conference, Ishikawa said: “This is a problem that many women believed was a personal issue because (wearing high heels) is generally seen as good etiquette.”

She then explained that an official of Japan’s Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry told her it was the first time the ministry had received “this many voices” demanding a ban on dress codes that force women to wear high heels.

“But we were also repeatedly told how difficult enacting a law to counter gender harassment and discrimination can be,” she added.

The campaign has garnered a lot of much-needed attention around the globe, with one supporter writing: “#KuToo!!!!!! I have ankle problems and cannot wear any type of heels or I will fall. I’m 5’0” and I love my height. Why should anyone be forced to wear such an uncomfortable contraption? #HeelsAreOptional.”

“#KuToo Let working women in Japan wear flats for crying out loud!!!” added another. 

“Good luck with your campaign against mandatory wearing crippling heels at work. They should go! No question. #KuToo,” wrote a third. 

How many more women around the world will have to tirelessly campaign to see change, when all we really want to do is go to work feeling comfortable and doing a good job of things?

Images: Getty


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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

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