At first glance, I was eager to read “Robin Givhan Sees Liberation in Katie Couric’s Heels (and Miniskirts).” Couric is a fellow journalist and I admire Givhan’s writing. Once I got into it, though, the Jezebel post −about a photo shoot Couric did for the March issue of Harper’s Bazaar− was irritatingly familiar, another rant about high heels and what they “say” about the women who wear them, blah, blah, blah.
For the shoot, Couric wears booties and Gucci platforms, and Givhan argues that it takes “pure grit” to “walk…in a pair of heels that make those who’d be suffering vertigo blanch.”
“Maybe ‘pure grit’ is a synonym for masochism,” the post’s author, Irin Carmon, retorts. “And while I see Givhan’s point that heels impress, allowing you to potentially tower over opponents, they also hint at a sort of inexorable demand on professional women to be all things at once− driven and hardworking, but also, ever so subtly, someone you’d want to fuck. Or that you think men might want to.”
To which I say… Oh, give me a break. You’re reading way too much into a pair of pumps.
Heels make the wearer −every wearer− look longer and leaner, and that’s what makes them appealing to so many women. Suggesting professionals who wear heels to the office do so to appear simultaneously industrious and desirable is insulting to those of us who use our brains, not our sex appeal, to get ahead in the workplace.
“Feminist writers have consistently argued that a woman’s attempt to cultivate her appearance makes her a dupe of fashion, the plaything of men, and thus a collaborator in her own oppression…,” says Linda Scott, associate professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois, in her book Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism.
In other words, many people believe the term “feminist fashionista” is an oxymoron. I am not one of those people.
I am also not a dupe, a plaything, or a collaborator in my own oppression because I wear what I want to wear. (Choice Feminism, anyone?)
And with that…the only fashion advice I will ever dispense here: Wear what makes you happy. And look appropriate for the occasion at hand. The rest (conveying a particular message, whether people like what you’re wearing, etc.) is just icing on the cake.
Photo: Harper’s Bazaar
*Originally published 2/12/2010