You Must Be High If You Wanna Wear Heels!

High heels cause such damage to a person’s body, it is completely nonsensical to wear them for any occasion. Each person has the right to do whatever they want to their own body – but I would like to challenge our view on high heels. Stilettos, Wedges, and Pumps all share one thing in common – they damage your body.

For this reason, I personally do not find them attractive – and in fact – find them quite the opposite.

Heels are only worn for the cosmetic appeal, and because of society’s patriarchal impositions on women and their own assumptions about beauty and sexual selection. They really serve no actual function.

People in all sorts of cultures do ridiculous things to their bodies in order to appear beautiful. They cut chunks of their skin out, file their teeth into fangs, and they elongate their necks to the point where they look more like giraffes.

I have heard martial arts instructors suggest using them in a self-defense context, citing them as useful trauma-causing tools. I question whether or not this is actually the case. Surely almost ANYTHING can be used as a weapon, but by the same token why not carry a banana with you everywhere and stick the pointy end into an attacker?

Let’s look at the 2 kinds of violence a person is likely to face – social and asocial – and examine if high heels really can be useful.


When does someone put on heels? When they are going out on the town, or out for a nice dinner, or out to a special event.

If social violence is to occur, it is going to be very difficult to flee the situation while wearing heels, so the heels will likely come off.
However, if there is social violence occurring, there is usually alcohol involved (after all – where are we wearing heels?… places that serve alcohol). Violence and alcohol share a first cousin, and that cousin is broken glass. You rarely have one without the other in settings where alcohol is served. If you cut your foot open on broken glass, especially in a public area – you risk blood loss and infection – as well as giving yourself a disadvantage toward the end of protecting yourself.

“Yeah, but you can take off your heels and use them to stab attackers in the eyes”, or other such arguments are ludicrous. Even if there is no broken glass or other rough terrain, it would take you an exceptional amount of time to remove your heels and to use them with enough force and accuracy to do any significant damage. You could have a far better effect (and far quicker) with even just an open hand. The time you would take to remove your shoes to use them as a weapon is longer than the time it would take to already be severely injured by your attacker.

They can be used to dig into shins and feet, but your stability would be far too compromised to really be optimally mobile (as you would want to be for the duration of a personal attack).


What if you are attacked asocially? This would be a possibility if you are on a date, walking to your car after a long day at the office, waiting for a taxi to go to your best friend’s birthday….or a million other possible scenarios. Typically you are alone.

In an asocial setting, you very rarely see the violence coming. The attack is likely an ambush. Heels will hinder you in many of the ways described above. The difference here is that you have even less time to deploy them as you are already under attack. Again, you could probably do far more damage and better your chances of escape using your bare hands.

Of course, if your shoe was already in your hand for some reason, then you could use it – but the odds against this being the case seem astronomical.


Some people argue that women are not going to let go of wearing these types of shoes, and because of this they craft entire classes and programs around performing self-defense in heels. While I can see their point, this attitude perpetuates an illogical meme, rather than challenge the currently held norm.

I wore high heels once. I volunteered with the White Ribbon Campaign – an organization that works toward the goal of ending violence against women and girls. We conducted a “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” fundraiser, where participants walked a mile in high heels.

A great cause indeed. During the stiletto and pump marathon, women chuckled and guffawed at the men hunkering around like their knee caps were inverted. You could almost hear the collective “Now you know what it I have to go through.”

But did anyone stop to ask, “Why the hell do I wear these stupid things anyway?” They are worn because women think they are pretty, and make them look good. And men perpetuate this idea, to the detriment of women’s health.

What a shame…that a woman would think that she HAS TO go through that torment just to look appealing.

Transgendered men that try to emulate women also put themselves through hell to look like women, and also force themselves into the little hobbling devices.

To train women realistically in heels is a liability. I would imagine that if you jostled a woman around in a manner similar to what she would experience during REAL violence (and not cardio karate playtime with friends), you would have enough broken and sprained ankles on your hands to fill an entire armada of hospital beds.

Violence is difficult enough to navigate without crippling your chances. I mean, why not fight blindfolded, too? After all, blindfolds make you look sexy and classy.


In summation, heels of any sort are horrible for your body, and are not so great for functional use in self-defense contexts.

Flat-bottomed shoes are where it’s at. They can be sexy, stylish, functional, and comfortable with components that actually aid your posture and stability.

We really should be making conscious choices for functionality in fashion.

High heels should be nothing more than a history lesson.

T.J. Kennedy

Hybrid Fighting Method

* high heel image above courtesy of

4 Responses to “You Must Be High If You Wanna Wear Heels!”

  1. This is an insightful article that repeats lessons many women have learned. In addition, I see women attempt to walk in these harmful shoes and it throws their body off balance and looks silly,

  2. Valerie C. [via Combative Corner’s Facebook]

    I find this article insulting. It is absurd that all of a sudden, in 2012, men have a beef with something that women feel beautfiul in, heels in many offices for example, are required to wear for an interview in an office, etc….shall we all wear men’s steel toe work boots or orthopedic shoes and men’s suits. Shall we all dress the same in flats & runners & jogging pants all the time? My comeback: men who go on and on about women’s RIGHT to feminity are jealous and neanderthal to expect women to dress like men all the time. For example: I went to an opera with my sweetheart recently wearing heels, that’s my right and privilege. I’m an honours grad in Social Services so you are out of line, you are disempowering women. We KNOW already the price to pay for wearing heels, I read an article like this in 1984. So, i say BACK OFF. Tell your speech to your own girl or even better, try telling Nicole Scherzinger of PCD what to wear. LOL. High heels and dressing sexy and make-up are part of a woman’s EMPOWERMENT. The same men that have a beef online with high heels are the first to drool over dancers, the first to drool over a sexy girl, so…back off. I find men are becoming increasingly jealous of make-up, beauty secrets, etc. So as far as I’m concerned, the article is discriminatory by gender in nature.

    • Valerie… thank you very much for commenting. I’m not speaking for the group, but due to the fact that this is an honest opinion piece of one man (T.J.Kennedy), we can’t (or shouldn’t) come down too hard. This topic has been on debate for a long time, but I (Michael Joyce) don’t agree that that T.J. was off-the-mark. As a massage therapist & movement coach, I’d had “a beef” with them as well. On the other side of the fence, I also have a beef with steel-toed shoes, or any shoes that hender or are unsupportive to the human frame. To not have a beef would be to not have an opinion… and everyone has those.

      Also, I’d like to add that high heels (scientifically proven to produce irregular stress & problems with the hips and low back), although they continue to be popular with women, are not extremely popular by men. Yes, in fantasy sort-of situations, high-heels accentuate the legs through a deception in length and (due to the increased demand/curve on the back) will accentuate the chest – thus causing a man’s attention to be drawn to the female. However, it is the female’s form, not the footwear that draws the eyes. Women can surely do what that want, and what they feel makes them beautiful, but guys are drawn more to true beauty over fashion and to a man that actually cares about women- why would he support something that would harm someone else? I think this is all T.J. was trying to get at. Retort?

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