A receptionist was fired this week for refusing to wear high heels—we aren't rid of this nonsense yetby Jessica Abrahams / May 12, 2016 / Leave a comment
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The news that emerged this week of a receptionist being fired after she protested that she could not run between meeting rooms all day in high heels—while her male colleagues were able to do the same shift in comfortable flats—is a reminder of the way in which women are expected to live with discomfort and impracticality in a way that men are not.
Women’s clothing, far more than men’s, is focused on how it makes us look rather than how practical it is to wear. As the weather warms up, shops are now full of a new season of clothing, and it’s the same as ever: transparent work shirts that have to be worn with a second top underneath; clothes that have to be taped into place to avoid embarrassment; and shoes that make your feet ache after the first hour. The reason women take so long in shop changing rooms is because we’re not just checking whether the clothes fit us—we’re running all sorts of experiments on them: stretching our legs to see if we could feasibly run for the bus in this pair of trousers; standing directly under the light to see if this dress suddenly transforms into a see-through nightmare; and bending forward in a new top to see if we could pick something up without exposing ourselves.
My favourite example: the case of the disappearing pocket. It is a source of constant annoyance to me that, as mobile phones have become ever bigger in size, the pockets on women’s clothes have gradually shrunk, forcing us to find new and inventive ways to carry our phones—in our bras; up our sleeves; even, once, stuffed into my sock—anywhere except the place that was specifically designed for such a task. My Samsung Galaxy no longer fits into the pockets on my trousers or my coat. Meanwhile, I watch with envy as my boyfriend fills his pockets up like Mary Poppins’ handbag—water bottles, umbrellas,…